The Messiah in Isaiah (Part 7): Isaiah 61
Isaiah’s Messiah (part 3): Isaiah 61
Isaiah 61:1–11 - The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 61:2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God . . .
1) We must believe the Message of Messiah to have gospel liberty. The Messiah announces both blessing and judgment (61:1-3). Jesus was “anointed” (Messiah/Christ) as a prophet-king in His baptism in fulfillment of this text which is the basis for His first message in His hometown synagogue in Nazareth (Lk. 4:21). He warned of judgment(s) but also brought the good news of salvation through faith, healing to the broken, and the freedom of forgiveness, deliverance and life eternal. This transforms His followers as illustrated in four poetic images (61:3). a) They have a crown rather than the ashes of mourning. b) They have a soothing oil on their face instead of humiliation. c) They are dressed in festal attire. d) They become oak trees of faithfulness.
2) We must rejoice in the Message to the Nations which gives joy to those inside and outside of Israel (61:4-7). The result of the rebuilding (v4) is that all Israel will be like “priests” and “ministers” whereas “strangers” and “foreigners” (Gentiles) will come into the boundaries of Zion and rejoice. Though Israel will receive a firstborn’s “double portion,” this will produce joy in all the nations. “Righteousness and praise [will] spring up before all the nations” (v11).
3) We must remember the Message to the Remnant of Israel which gives a covenant promise for Gentile salvation(61:8-11). Those who rebuild and raise up (v4) Isaiah refers to elsewhere as the Remnant of Israel. “Only a remnant within [Israel] will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness” (10:22, cf 46:3). These believers in the Anointed are “the offspring whom the LORD has blessed” (61:9). This group is contrasted with those Israelites who commit “robbery in the burnt offering” (v8), such as Jews rejecting Jesus in Nazareth who tried to kill Him (Lk. 4:28-29). But those who receive Christ are blessed “offspring” “known among the nations” (v9). Why? Because they take the gospel to the nations (Please note Jesus’s Gentile theme in His Lk. 4/Is. 61 sermon). The Apostles, particularly, Paul understood this kind of prophetic word to apply to them. “For so the Lord has commanded us [Paul/Barnabas], ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH” (Acts 13:47). Gentile salvation results from this Remnant’s “everlasting covenant” (cf Is. 42:6).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more