The Life, Times And Message Of Isaiah The Prophet Feb/Mar 1974
The Mission of the Servant of the Lord And Israel’s Glorious Destiny
Isaiah Chapter 61
The spirit of the LORD God is upon me,
For the LORD has anointed me
To bring good tidings to the humble,
He sent me to bind up the broken-hearted;
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And to open the prison to them who are bound.
To proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor,
And a day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort all who mourn;
To appoint deliverance to the mourners of Zion,
And to give to them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
A garment of praise instead of a failing spirit,
And they shall be called the oaks of righteousness”,
The planting of the LORD for His glory.
4 And they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former desolations,
And restore the ruined cities
That were wasted for many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of aliens shall tend your farms and your vineyards.
6 But you shall be called, “the priests of the LORD”,
And they will speak of you as the ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of the nations
And revel in their splendor.
7 Instead of shame, you will receive a double share [of honor] And for humiliation, they will rejoice with their portion
And so in their land shall they possess double,
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
8 Because I the LORD love justice
I hate robbery with iniquity,
And I will recompense them faithfully
And will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 And their offspring shall be renowned among the nations,
And their posterity among the peoples,
All they who will see them shall recognize them,
That they are the seed whom God has blessed.
10 I will rejoice exceedingly in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God,
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
And covered me with the robe of righteousness,
Like a bridegroom puts on a priestly diadem,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth her growth,
And as a garden causes its plantings to spring forth
So shall the LORD Jehovah cause righteousness and praise
To spring forth before all the nations.
I The spirit of the LORD God is upon me for the LORD has anointed me
Again the question arises who is the speaker of these and the following words? Jewish commentators apply these words to the prophet himself. But no prophet ever spoke of himself in this manner. These can only be the words spoken by the servant of the LORD, previously mentioned in chapters 42:1, 50:4, 5. The mission described in verses 1-3 is of such a sweeping nature that only God Himself is able to perform it, using the servant as His agent The mission of the Anointed One is further described in detail:
To bring good tidings to the humble
The anointed servant of God is to bring good tidings to the humble, a term which usually describes God’s faithful remnant. The good tidings is that their enslavement is about to end.
He sent me to bind up the broken-hearted
This means to bring comfort and healing to those who suffer for righteousness’ sake.
To proclaim liberty to captives
This is an immediate reference to the captives of Israeli but in a larger sense, it points to the deliverance from the bondage of sin.
And to open the prison to them who are bound
This line complements the former, enlarging upon the fact that besides being captives in bondage, some of them were also confined in prison.
2 To proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor
Shnath-ratson la-Jehovah—the year of the LORD’S favor—is that glorious time when God shall turn His face in mercy toward His people (see 60:10).
And a day of vengeance of our God
In contrast to the year of God’s favor toward His remnant, this will also be the day of reckoning for the ungodly.
To comfort all who mourn
Those who mourn for righteousness will be comforted through the presence and the work of the Servant, (see Mt. 5:4).
3 To appoint deliverance to the mourners of Zion
And to give to them a garland instead of ashes
To appoint and to give are synonymous expressions; the first is general, the second more specific. The word “deliverance” is not in the original text, but is implied.
In the Hebrew text there is a play on words: pe-ar—a garland; aipher— ashes. Those who wore the ashes of mourning shall obtain a garland of joy.The following two lines are supplementary and express the same thought.’
And they shall be called “the oaks of righteousness”
A term which conveys a similar meaning as “the pillars of righteousness”.
The planting of the LORD for His glory
The line is similar in sense to chapter 60:21.
4-7 The ruins of the Holy Land will be rebuilt
4 And they will rebuild the ancient ruins
“They” refers to the children of Israel who will return and rebuild their ruined cities.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks
A similar thought is expressed in 60:10, indicating that the converted Gentiles out of love for the LORD and for His people will work in harmony with the children of Israel as farmers and vinedressers and in the rebuilding of the land.
6 But you shall be called, “the priests of the LORD” . . . “the ministers of our God”
In Exodus 19:6, the children of Israel were called to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” In appreciation of the material help and service of the converted Gentiles the redeemed Jews will minister to them as “the priests of the LORD.” The expression, “our God,” points significantly to the sharing of a common faith, and the worship of the same God. The term, “meshorthei”—ministers—.means servants who perform higher functions. The prophet sees Israel as the God-appointed minister to the nations of the world.
You will feed on the wealth of the nations and revel in their splendor
The word, translated “revel” (boast in KJV), literally means “to take in exchange”. The thought here is that Zion—Israel—will share her spiritual wealth with the nations, and in exchange will participate in everything which is great and noble among the nations. We have translated “kavod”—usually translated “glory” as “splendor”. It comes from a root which means heavy or weighty. It refers to all that which is truly meaningful and glorious.
7 Instead of shame, you will receive a double share [of honor]
At first glance the Hebrew text sounds incomplete, but the meaning of it is clear. For their shame and humiliation which their oppressors inflicted on her, she will now receive a double portion of joy in her own land.
8 Because I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity
Robbery with “iniquity” instead of the Massoretic “olah”—burnt offering. We read the same consonants as “avlah”—injustice or iniquity, which makes better sense, following the Septuagint, the Targum and several Hebrew manuscripts which read this word in the same way. God is just and hates all injustice. Israel will be recompensed faithfully for the wrong done to her.
9 And their offering shall be renowned among the nations
Redeemed and restored Israel and her posterity shall be acknowledged the nations as God’s people, whom He has blessed and distinguished in a singular way.
10 I will rejoice exceedingly in the LORD.
These words and the following lines are a brief hymn of praise, which the prophet puts into the mouth of the redeemed.
Like a bridegroom puts on a priestly diadem … a bride . . . her jewels
The prophet compares Israel adorned with the garments of salvation to a bride and bridegroom in their festive wedding attire. “The priestly diadem’ refers to the Biblical custom according to which the bride put on a special wedding turban and adorned herself in her jewelry. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., this ancient custom became defunct in sign of mourning.
11 For as the earth brings forth her growth . . .a garden … its plantings
God’s promises to Israel are as sure as the laws of nature, just as the seed planted in the soil will under favorable conditions bring forth new growth and plant life. The thought is similar to Is. 55:10.
So shall the LORD Jehovah cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations
Even as the earth brings forth her growth in due season so also shall the LORD cause righteousness and glory to sprout forth before all nations. The LORD Jehovah” is a most emphatic use of God’s name.
(To be continued)