I have loved camping out in Isaiah this week. It truly is the Romans of the Old Testament!
The flavour of Christianity is joy. The angel announcing Christ’s birth in Luke 2:10 tells of bringing “good news of great joy.” That’s important because life stinks, especially if for example you…
- Are a person of colour in America (and indeed here)
- Lost your job during the lockdown
- Are watching the business you have been building for decades has dried up
- Are grieving a loved one who died alone
- Are still feeling the shame and consequences of past mistakes
Jesus is the fulfillment of this breathtaking prophecy in Isaiah 61. He brings the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.
Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote “In a world where everything has gone so sadly astray, we should be standing out as men and women apart, people characterised by a fundamental joy and certainty in spite of adversity.” The should is a can because of the anointing of the Spirit, Isaiah and Jesus invite us to drink in.
Anointing brings liberation v1-3
Jesus got the greatest anointing to bring good news to the poor, the in trouble, the in bondge and the broken-hearted. Who doesn’t fall into one of those categories?
As Ray Ortlund wrote in “Isaiah, God saves sinners”
We live in an age of despair. But it’s a smiling despair, softened by consumer convenience, driving through for a ‘happy meal’ along the way. Into our age Jesus says, “I came to bear your guilt despair far away and to replace it with joy inexpressible and filled with glory.” He does it single-handedly. He has the Spirit. He has the Word. That’s all he needs to remake the whole world, beginning with you and me.
How does it happen? – it happens through preaching and proclaiming. We must demonstrate the good news with social action and signs and wonders, but we must speak out the good news with words. The Apostle Paul tells is in Romans 10 that Faith comes by hearing.
The impact is that believers get the great exchange, here expressed as a beautiful headress, the oil of gladness, a garment or praise AND being oaks of righteousness. The gospel builds strong Christians with deep roots who display God’s glory. He’s done something amazing in us!
Priestly people v4-7
In the old covenant very few people actually got to be priests (who mediate God to other people), even though the call on the nation of Israel is to be a kingdom of priests. Isaiah prophecies that we will be priests of the Lord v6. Every one of us is a priest. We have been set apart and anointed to point others to Jesus. Your shame is taken away, replaced by a double portion of grace and mercy. Your dishonour is taken away, replaced by rejoicing. You have been given everlasting joy!
An everlasting covenant v8-9
Jesus commits himself to us – promising justice. Not just a legal sorting out, but life and society becoming the way it should be. He hates the robbery and wrong of today. God’s kingdom and righteousness is coming in greater and greater measure and will last forever.
Robes of righteousness v10-11
Jesus clothes us with garments of salvation and robes of righteousness. Your filthy rags have been taken away and replaced with robes. It’s the great exchange I mentioned earlier and that the Apostle Paul explains in 2 Cor 5:21. Jesus takes our sin and shame and replaces it with His righteousness. He “imputes” righteousness to us. The language in these verses is the God’s delight and joy in doing that. Isaiah sees the Messiah enjoying saving us! Hallelujah! He’s been doing it for 2,000 years and he’s only just begun. Through Jesus God is pouring out such an outpouring of joy that the nations will be in awe.
An editorial in The Independent asked whether the eerie coronavirus slowdown was forcing us to ask “is this it?” The author’s answer was that the lockown was forcing people to confront the bigger questions and for him (and me) the answer is the Christian faith. Janet and I are running two (albeit small!) online Alphas at the minute and watching and delighting in the good news penetrating hearts and minds. We went for a quick run after last night’s “Who is Jesus?” session and I commented that if all I mostly did during the week was develop leaders and running Alpha courses, I’d be happy.
Is bingeing Netflix, alcohol, and tweeting angrily all there is to it? No. The anointing of the Spirit takes us into great depths of delight, wonder, joy and liberation from the mess of the broken world. Ask Him to fill you afresh today and live in that same anointing.