Mess to Sort Out
Mighty and Gracious God, the more I learn about You, the more I can only give You praise and thanks!
Read ISAIAH 61:1-11
 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.  Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.  And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.  Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.  “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them.  Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”  I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat do you learn about the Lord in these verses?
These words refer back, in v. 2, to the glorious “Year of the Lord’s Favor” or “Jubilee Year” described in Leviticus 25. The idea is that the muddled dealings and exchanges of human interaction are bound to lead to injustice and suffering for those at the margins of life. According to God’s plan, therefore, every 50 years there should be a leveling, a redemption for those individuals and families in unreasonable debt. Isaiah was passionate about social justice. Here he brings us a multifaceted vision of how the poor can be enriched and empowered. It is wonderful poetry, but also a practical outline of how the lowliest souls can be progressively lifted up as they are blessed by God.
Isaiah is a prophet, one who can know and speak the mind of God. He also looks centuries ahead to the time when Jesus himself will come to fulfill the promise of the Jubilee Year. Sadly, we have no evidence that the Israelites kept up the practice. Like many twenty-first century global citizens, they could probably see it was a good idea in theory. Only in Jesus do we find one who cannot only read the words (Luke 4) but live them out fully.
Pray that God will show you and all his Church how this passage is to be lived out today. Then, do your part.
Gracious God, enlarge my vision for the poor and those on life’s margins. I know how deeply You care for them.
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