Today: [Isaiah 61] Locating Yourself in the Word. In Isaiah 60 we see the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 echoed by the prophet 100’s of years before Jesus came on the scene. We know that Jesus studied the scripture and can glean understanding that as He read the word it was not dead letter but living destiny to Him that He set out to fulfill. The apostle Paul likewise looked at the scripture this way and even in 1 Kings there was a king named in the scripture 340 years before his birth who also found himself in the scripture and set out to fulfill his destined purpose. What about you? Can you find yourself in the scripture? Is there any validity to appropriating scripture for yourself as Jesus, Josiah and Paul did?
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[Isa 61:1-11 KJV] 1 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. 4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien [shall be] your plowmen and your vinedressers. 6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: [men] shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. 7 For your shame [ye shall have] double; and [for] confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. 8 For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they [are] the seed [which] the LORD hath blessed. 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. 11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
One of the beautiful things we see in studying the Old Testament is the perspective by which Jesus, as a young man must have read it. Verse 1 of our chapter today is quoted almost word for word by Jesus in the gospel of Luke:
[Luk 4:18-19 KJV] 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.
This tells us that when Jesus studied the scripture, He saw them as very personal and dynamic instruction and assignment in His own life. This is not a viewpoint exclusive to our Lord. In the epistle of James we are exhorted by the apostle to see the scriptures much as Jesus must have – as a mirror of our own lives and destiny:
[Jas 1:22-23 NKJV] 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
When James says “be a doer” he is not advocating a performance based, religiously constricted approach to Christian living. He is saying to us as Jesus – this word we read, when we read it as Jesus surely read it, is a reflection of our own destiny, purpose and assignment. This is exactly how the apostle Paul read in Isaiah as well as the book of Acts recounts to us. Paul was dealing with intense opposition from the Jews to His preaching. His mind went back to the account of how Isaiah lamented the seeming failure of his own mission and the promise of God that though the Jews rejected Isaiah’s message – that Isaiah would be a light to the Gentiles. Upon reading this, Paul declares that HE is the personal fulfillment of God’s promise to Isaiah 100’s of years before:
[Act 13:46-47 NKJV] 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
In other words, Paul looked in this ancient passage written by Isaiah and as Jesus did in this chapter as well – Paul declared “this is me Isaiah is talking about (in Isaiah 49:6) and as a result Paul stepped out and became the architect of Christianity as we know it and the most influential human being in history other than Jesus Himself. This is the greatness that God has called each and every one of us to walk in. There is one more radical example:
In 1 Kings early after the establishment of the northern kingdom there was an unnamed prophet – a precursor to Elijah who came out and prophesied against the altar at Bethel. In his prophecy, he names a king that was to come on the scene who would destroy the pagan altars and establish righteousness in the nation of Israel:
[1Ki 13:2 NKJV] 2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ”
This prophecy by an unknown prophet is one of the most remarkable prophetic words in all the scripture. In exactly 340 years there was a king set on the throne by the name of Josiah as a very young lad of only 8 years old. During the early years of his rule, he commanded the temple that was in disrepair to be set in order again. During that time there was book of the law uncovered and the king commanded it to be read in his hearing:
[2Ch 34:15, 18-19 KJV] 15 And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. … 18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
When this was read to Josiah he heard then the prophecy that had been declared 340 years earlier and he set out to do exactly what was commanded! Josiah FOUND himself in the narrative of the scripture (In 1 Kings 13:2) and stepped out to fulfille exactly what he saw, looking into the mirror of God’s word. Paul FOUND himself in the narrative of God’s word (in Isaiah 49:6) and stepped out and fulfilled the mandate of heaven to become the “great light” to the Gentiles that God had promised Isaiah. Jesus likewise according to Luke 2:40 “grew in wisdom” and became strong in spirit – seeing Himself in the narrative of the scripture by interpreting in ways that any theologian would scoff at today but nonetheless as Jesus saw HIMSELF we are bidden by James to look into the mirror of the word and SEE OURSELVES and go out in obedience to fulfill the mandate of heaven to bring the gospel to all the world.
When we read then Isaiah speaking in reference to himself in Isaiah 60 we know that he is actually speaking in the person of Jesus Himself who was yet to come on the scene as the Jewish messiah and the savior of the world. Something was rising up in the words of Isaiah that drew upon the personification of Christ from before the foundation of the world, breaking forth in time and happenstance through the declarations of a man with a fire in his bones that could not be shut up. Those words of Isaiah, quoted by Jesus are still finding their fulfillment in the lives of believers today who are looking into the mirror of God’s word and seeing themselves, and their mandate and their assignment. When James said the word was a mirror – He was not speaking only of certain scriptures but the WHOLE counsel of God. Therefore Isaiah 60 and Luke 4:18-19 constitute the heart of the prophet Isaiah, the declaration of Jesus, and the mandate on our lives as well for we likewise are called to:
1. Preach the gospel to the poor.
2. Bring healing to the broken hearted.
3. Preach deliverance to the captives.
4. Recovering of sight to the blind.
5. Set at liberty those that are bruised.
6. Preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
How can we have the audacity to apply such lofty statements to ourselves as appropriated by Jesus? Because as 1 John 4:17 tells us “…as He is so are we in this world …” and John 14:12 because Jesus HAS gone to the Father – the works that He did on the earth SHALL WE DO and GREATER works according to His promise!
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