The prophet Isaiah is considered to be the greatest of Old Testament prophets and his purpose was to call the nation of Judah back to God. He told of a future Messiah who would bring salvation but he also had the difficult task of warning people of God’s judgement if they did not turn from their lives of sin. While the first half of the book of Isaiah deals with the message of punishment, the second brings a message of hope, comfort, and forgiveness as they look for the coming Messiah.
Isaiah 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
While you may think this is just Old Testament writing meant for another nation in time past, I’d like for us to look at Luke 4 where Jesus is in Nazareth speaking on the Sabbath and reads from Isaiah’s scroll: “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” When He had rolled the scroll back up, He states in verse 21 ”This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
I want to encourage you today that your sorrow can be tuned into joy, your grief and mourning can be exchanged for gladness, and the weight of despair can become a garment of praise! Jesus Christ fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah and this did not end at Calvary — it was the beginning. His resurrection is our hope, life, forgiveness, and healing! He is our everything and God’s promises are still fulfilled by bringing us peace, joy, love, and victory!
We have the opportunity to see promises fulfilled in our lives today if we just believe and trust in Him. God has not left us at the mercy of our enemies, but when we don’t trust and obey through His Son, we lack the power to overcome and then sorrow and heaviness become our covering. Be encouraged, Jesus Christ is still the answer for joy and peace and brings good news to all who believe. It’s time to trade your ashes for beauty, mourning for joy, and sorrow for praise. Don’t spend another day without the hope and peace of Jesus Christ and the comfort He offers!
I pray, “Lord, deliver me from the cloud of gloom that seems to hover over me. I want Your garment of praise to cover me and the oil of gladness to flow through me. Thank You for bringing freedom to every captive, good news to the poor, and comfort to all who mourn. Continue to heal, forgive, and bless us with Your favor. In Jesus’ name I ask, amen.”
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.