I love God’s Word! It is alive and powerful! The Bible says that it is able to divide the soul and the spirit, and that it discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart! ( Hebrews 4:12) Wow! That is something to think about!
I believe that there is something to be treasured in every single word and phrase of the Bible. But there are some parts of it that are especially precious to me because they have spoken with immediacy to the need of the moment, and to the deepest needs of my soul. Isaiah 61 is one of those special chapters to me. Especially verse 3.
“To appoint (assign) unto those that mourn in Zion, to give 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.”
Life in this fallen world will leave you with plenty to mourn over; to experience a spirit of heaviness. In the Old Testament, when there was cause for grief, a person would tear his garments and throw ashes upon his head. Ashes upon the head was a sign of great sorrow. That is why it is the custom of some churches to put ashes on their foreheads on “Ash Wednesday” as a sign of repentence, or being sorrowful for one’s sins. Woven and sewn by hand, clothes were a valuable commodity. Ripping your precious garment was a sign of deep grief
It should interest us to know that these are the words that Jesus read in the synagogue to signify the beginning of His ministry. He said these words were fulfilled that day. (Read Isaiah 61 again to see what Jesus came to do for us.) He came to give us beauty for our ashes; oil of joy; and new garments.
The Hebrew word here for beauty is “pe-hayr:” an embellishment, ie) fancy head dress, as worn by the brides of ancient Israel. He is speaking here of His Bride! He is giving us a bridal garment; the anointing of His Holy Spirit for the joy of belonging to Him; and brand new garments, white and clean, as we sing our song of praise to Him.
This is the great exchange! Our sin and grief, for joy unspeakable as the Bride of the Redeemer. Our filthy rags, for a robe of righteousness. Our cry of mourning for a song of praise.
Think of it! As we sorrow and mourn over our sins, He lifts us up, washes us clean, dresses us in our wedding garments, and puts a new song in our hearts! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Let’s Pray: Father of mercy and grace, we thank You that You did not leave us dying in our sins, but You came to buy us back to yourself. Help us to become trees of righteousness, planted in Your Kingdom. help us to value what You have provided for us in this great exchange, that You might be glorified! In Jesus’ name,