The Book Ends

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In my estimation Isaiah 61 is one of the most beautiful portions of
the Old Testament. It is so strongly prophetic of the earth ministry
of Jesus, from beginning to end.

It begins with a statement of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon
the messenger of Good News, healing, comfort and liberation. It offers
an exchange of joy for sorrow through faith. It closes with a reminder
that one must accept freely the offer of the garments of salvation and
the robe of righteousness. One must come to the wedding. (Revelation
19:6-9)

Jesus in an early address in his home town of Nazareth made use of the
early verses in describing his mission as Messiah:

Luke 4:

18The 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,

19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Then at the close of His ministry He is being questioned by the
religious leaders as to the authority for His speaking before the
people. He refers to a glorious wedding, and the invitation of a
Father figure, a King, the many who opted out for shallow reasons, and
the beggarly few who quickly responded to the call.

The parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22) referred to in the
preceding post seems to echo the words of Isaiah:

10.I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my
God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath
covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh
himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her
jewels.

Jesus is responding to the inquisition of the Pharisees and Sadducees
as a lamb being poked and prodded in examination before the holy
sacrifice. He highlights the tragic consequences of refusing the
wedding invitation upon its exact terms. He sees Jewish religion doing
that very thing. His woes in Matthew 23 speak to the hypocrisy of
religion by way of form. His prophecy in chapter 24 speaks to the
disastrous fall of Jerusalem for not having recognized her day of
visitation and invitation.

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2 thoughts on “The Book Ends

  1. I love the beginning of Isaiah 60:
    “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
    See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
    but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
    Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
    “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
    All assemble and come to you;
    your sons come from afar,
    and your daughters are carried on the hip.
    Then you will look and be radiant,
    your heart will throb and swell with joy;”

    Especially in contrast to Isaiah 59, which begins:
    “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.
    But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
    your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear.
    For your hands are stained with blood,
    your fingers with guilt.
    Your lips have spoken falsely,
    and your tongue mutters wicked things.
    No one calls for justice;
    no one pleads a case with integrity.
    They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
    they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
    They hatch the eggs of vipers
    and spin a spider’s web.”

  2. So often Isaiah shows us the “sticktuitiveness” of our God to His covenent, even when Israel is again behaving like Jacob. This is no licence to sin, but rather a reproach that no matter how many times we falter, He remains constant and devoted. Only through His Spirit do we have access to such constancy (Romans 8).

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