Come to Me – Day 18
Beauty for ashes
The Good News of Deliverance
Chapter 61 is part of the second major section of Isaiah that deals less with Judah’s immediate plight than with its future deliverance from Babylonian exile and ultimate glory. In the previous chapters, Isaiah talked a lot about the need to turn away from sin. Now, in the final chapters of this book, he gives depictions of deliverance, including the Remnant’s release from oppression, redemption by the Lord, preservation by the Holy Spirit, and the eternal glorification of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 61 chapter reveals that the Messiah, who ministered salvation at his first coming, will minister comfort for redeemed Israel at his second coming. Jesus read and applied Isaiah 61:1-2 to his own ministry when he preached in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). These verses in Isaiah were fulfilled in Jesus Christ; he came to heal and to help, he comforted and healed the sick and hurting, and convicted the self-righteous.
In ancient Israelite custom, people mourned by sprinkling ashes, dust or dirt upon themselves and donning a garment of black sackcloth. The tearing of sackcloth was a universal sign among the Hebrews, signifying grief and distress. Oil meant the opposite – anointing oil was a sign of joy and celebration. This is what Isaiah evokes when he talks about oil in this chapter.
God changes our ashes into the oil of gladness. Through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, we who repent are transformed and made righteous by the power of the atonement. It does not simply change what happens to us when we die. It is a transformation that God does with us in conversion, sanctification and in our daily lives. He takes what is worthless and makes it a crown.