For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

61:1. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”

The Speaker here is clearly the Lord Jesus Christ, for He applied these words to Himself as recorded in Lk 4:18-19, the healing miracles performed during His earthly ministry foreshadowing what will be in the Millennium.

“... the meek” are those who are humble, and submissive to His will. Faith in Him as Savior brings heart-healing, and deliverance from the bondage to Satan into which all men have been brought by Adam’s disobedience, the “prison” being man’s natural propensity to sin. The new birth produces a new sinless nature in the believer, so that his imprisonment to the lusts of the flesh is broken, being exchanged for the warfare between the old nature and the new, he now being empowered to resist the evil impulses of the flesh, and to manifest instead the righteousness of his new spiritual nature.

The RSV translates “prison” as “eyes” indicating that the reference may be to the freedom enjoyed by those whose spiritual eyes are opened revealing their need of Christ as Savior, and their accepting Him as such.

61:2. “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;”

“... the acceptable year of the Lord” was the year of jubilee, which is itself a picture of this present age of grace that began with the Lord’s incarnation, and that will end with the rapture of the Church, when “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” 1 Cor 15:52, living believers will be translated to heaven together with their resurrected fellows of past ages. The seven-year Tribulation era will follow, and be ended by the Lord’s return to establish His glorious millennial kingdom.

“... the vengeance of our God” reminds us that great as is God’s love it does not extend to the pardoning of sin apart from repentant confession, and exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The unrepentant will suffer His wrath eternally, first in Hell, and eternally in the Lake of Fire, hence the imperative of heeding His warning, “For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor 6:2, and again, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,” Pr 27:1.

Those here promised deliverance and comfort were they who languished as prisoners in Babylon, but the assurance of emancipation embraces every believer of every age, as it is written, “For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Ps 30:5. See also comments on Isa 54:7.

61:3. “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 (oaks) of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

An outward expression of mourning was to put ashes on one’s head, to wear sackcloth, to refrain from using fragrant oil on the head or face, and to weep and wail loudly, all of these things being symbolic of Israel’s sorrow as she languished in captivity in Babylon. But Jehovah, her mighty Deliverer, was about to break her yoke, and bring her back to her own land rejoicing, that deliverance leading her to glorify Him as her disobedience had dishonored Him. But the picture is typological as well as literal, for her misery in Babylon pictures the spiritual state of the unconverted, while her emancipation portrays the happy state of those who experience liberation from Satan’s bondage by confessing themselves sinners and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

The “trees” here are specifically oaks, which are synonymous with stability and longevity, the portrait being of the believer’s eternal life and security in Christ.

61:4. “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.”

This rebuilding will occur in the Millennium, but it reminds us that similar spiritual rebuilding goes on in the life of every obedient believer, see 1 Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house ....” and 2 Peter 3:18 “but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ....”

61:5. “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the aliens shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.”

The picture continues to be of Israel’s millennial glory and national supremacy, when the Gentiles will stand ready to serve her.

61:6. “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.”

In that coming day there will be no idolatry: the worship of Jehovah will be universal, and will be presented through the Levitical priests, who will be enriched by the portions of the offerings which God has appointed for them, see e.g., Lev 2:3, “And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons ....”

61:7. “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.”

For the measure of shame and contempt that had been theirs in Babylon, God would give them a double portion of honor and joy, the complete fulfillment of that promise occurring in the Millennium. And so is it also with believers of this present age: anything we may have to suffer here for His sake will be recompensed with a corresponding double portion of glory, joy and peace when we reign with Him, see 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him ....”

61:8. “For I the Lord love judgment (justice), I hate robbery for burnt-offering: and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.”

Calvary is the irrefutable evidence of this truth. God pardons every believer on a perfectly just basis. He doesn’t just “sweep our sins under the rug.” It is written, “The soul that sinneth it shall die,” Ezek 18:20, and that sentence was executed against the Lord Jesus Christ when He took our guilty place at Calvary, and died in our guilty stead. God dealt with Him there as though He, His sinless Son, had committed those sins. It is little wonder therefore, that the Lord’s anticipation of Calvary caused His sweat to become like great drops of blood, see Lk 22:44, and impelled His desolate cry, “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” Mt 47:26.

“... I hate robbery for burnt offering,” is ambiguous, and has been differently interpreted, e.g., “This is probably not a reference to stealing in regards to sacrifices, but rather the unjust robbery imposed on the children of Israel during their captivity,” LBC; “Hating, as I do, the rapine, combined with iniquity, perpetrated on my people by their enemies,” JFB.

“.... an everlasting covenant” is the assurance that the believer’s blessing will be eternal in heaven, as will be also the torment of the unbeliever in the lake of fire.

61:9. “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.”

The description here is of Israel’s millennial blessing, the AAT rendering of the verse being, “Their sons shall be known among the nations, their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them as a race that the Lord has blessed.”

Israel’s future glory will be surpassed only by that of the Church.

61:10. “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.”

While the sentiments expressed here may be those of Isaiah himself it is more likely that they anticipate the rejoicing of millennial Israel; and certainly they apply in equal measure also to those who comprise the Church, for we have been clothed “with the garments of salvation” and “with the robe of righteousness,” the cost of those garments being not silver or gold, but the precious blood of Christ, as it is written, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Pe 1:18-19. The joy that ought to accompany salvation is declared in the fact that the garments of salvation are likened to those of a bridegroom and bride on their wedding day, and as enjoined by Paul in Php 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice,” see also 1 Pe 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

61:11. “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.”

This is the direct antithesis of conditions in the world today where fleeting joy gives place to sorrow and sighing because righteousness is trampled underfoot and sin reigns; but the tidal wave of evil is about to crest in the coming Great Tribulation, and will be followed by the peace and blessedness of the Millennium, which will in turn give place to God’s eternal day, see Rev 7:17, “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead the unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” and Rev 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, write: for these words are true and faithful.”


[Isaiah 62]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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