The Glory of the Servant and His City

Isaiah 61 - 62

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the passage from Isaiah's prophecy which Jesus of Nazareth spoke from at the beginning of his Messianic ministry.

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[End of prayer] Direct us now as we look at the 61st and the 62nd chapters. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Message] Tonight we are looking at Isaiah chapter 61 and chapter 62. So, will you turn in your Old Testament to these two chapters and will you listen as I read Isaiah chapter 61.

“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, To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn, 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.

“And they shall build the wastes of old, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

“And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

“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.

“For your shame ye shall have double, and that means double good, 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 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.

“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.

“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. (Now, I do not see many bridegrooms decked with ornaments in our days, but apparently, they did then.)

“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.”

The subject for tonight and I have changed the subject slightly from the program, is the “Glory of the Servant and His City.” In Isaiah chapter 61 and chapter 62, we have the entire history of Israel from the first to the second coming. Now I have read the opening verses of chapter 61, which are verses that referred to our Lord and his first coming, but if you will just listen as I read the last two verses of chapter 62, you will discover that these verses have to do with the second coming.

“Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world: “Say ye to the daughter of Zion, `Behold, Thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with Him, and His work before Him.’ And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and Thou shalt be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken.”

So, it is the story as Isaiah has put it of ashes to beauty, of mourning to the oil of joy, and heaviness to the garment of praise, poor Israel, all of the things that she must undergo until the day of her consolation are things of judgment and unhappiness, mourning, ashes, heaviness, and down through the centuries, she still experiences them. Israel is now 21 years of age. In May of 1948, the 14th day, Israel became a nation. She had reached fair majority. She is 21. But she is still suffering because she has not turned to her messiah, Jesus Christ. And what we have is the continuation of a long series of sufferings that had begun in the old testament, reach their climax, reach their significant point in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus and now are being seen in their dispersion to the four corners of the earth whereby God shall bring them to the place where they are ready to return to the one who has loved them and given himself for them.

This passage is further interesting to us not because it is a picture of Israel from the first coming to the second coming, but also because it is was used by our Lord to explain his Messianic ministry. And I would like for you to turn with me to the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke and when you listen as I read just a few verses, in which our Lord turns to this very passage, Isaiah 61 and reads the passage in the synagogue at Nazareth. Remember Jesus has just been baptized, the Holy Spirit has come upon Him and the voice from heaven has said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And after the baptism and the temptation, our Lord returned to Galilee. He had been inaugurated into his Messianic ministry by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Him. Remember the term Messiah means anointed one. And so when the Holy Spirit came upon Him, he was anointed, not anointed with oil as the prophets and the priests and the kings of the Old Testament were anointed, oil is figurative, oil is typical. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit who came upon Him at his baptism. Then he entered into his Messianic office when he was baptized. Now he is entering into the ministry of the Messiah. He enters into the synagogue in Nazareth and we read in verse 16, “And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.

Now, I want to say just a little something here about the custom of the synagogue. The services in the synagogue are very interesting. There first of all was an opening invitation to prayer to which the congregation responded, and among the things that they said was the great Shema Yisrael. Hear O Israel the Lord our God is one Lord which was very much like their apostles tree. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, they confess the unity of God. This is still one reason why the Jews have difficulty in accepting Christianity, because it seems to them to go contrary to their great faith in the unity of God, to believe in a trinity suggests to many of them a doctrine of three Gods rather than one. It has often been said that all you have to know in order to refuse Christianity is to know that three is not the same as one.

Well, they do not believe in the trinity, they accept the unity of God and so in the opening invitation to prayer, they confess the Shema. Then the second part of the service was composed of eulogies or benedictions and a delegate of the congregation chosen for the purpose by the ruler of the synagogue, the ruler by the way was not the equivalent of our modern preacher, he was the equivalent of our modern business manager. He was responsible for the conduct of the services, for the care of the synagogue, and things like that, but he himself was not the preacher. And so a delegate of the congregation chosen by the ruler of the synagogue repeated certain of the 18 benedictions and the congregation responded with an Amen at the close of the prayer.

Then thirdly there came the reading of the law of Moses and the attendant brought a copy of the law from the ark and at least 7 persons were called upon to read, each reading no less than three verses. The Pentateuch was divided into a number of sections and sections from the law were read. Following the reading of the law, a section from the prophets was read and usually in the reading of these passages from the bible, the Law and the Prophets, an interpreter stood by at least in our Lord’s day and later to interpret the Hebrew which was not understood by many into the Aramaic which many of the Jews did speak and so after the reading, the meturganim, or the interpreter would translate what had been read into Aramaic just as if I should read some verses from Greek and someone standing by should translate them for you.

Then after the reading of the prophets, a discourse followed. If there were persons there who were capable, there was no limit of the ministry of the word to one person. And by the way that is why in the early church there was no limit to the number of people who can participate in the church service. We of course changed the apostolic practice and now in our churches, ordinarily one man ministers the word and you call him the pastor. Now that man not only is the minister of the word in many of our churches now, but he is also the effective administrator of the church. He is like the president of a corporation.

Now, I do not have to tell you, I hope that such is not found in the New Testament at all. You cannot find it anywhere. I would challenge any one of you to try to find that in the New Testament. It is not there. All you have to do to know what the New Testament sets forth is to read passages like Acts chapter 13, 1 Corinthians chapter 14, I Thessalonians chapter 5 and many other passages to know that when the early church came together, there was free participation by those who were qualified, i.e., men who had spiritual gift. And so the early church took this over from the synagogue just as they took over the office of elder from the synagogue. No reference in the New Testament is made to the appointment of elders. It was done in accordance with the practice of Israel.

And so Paul appointed elders because they knew elders in Judaism and consequently when they had their church meetings, they were conducted in similar way. There was freedom for the ministry of the word and so if there were persons capable of expounding the scriptures when they had been read, then they were invited to speak. You remember that when Paul came to Antioch in Pisidian and when the reading of the word had taken place, we read in Acts chapter 13 and after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue set unto Paul and his company and said “Ye men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, speak up, say ye” and so when the synagogue met Paul and the others were free to express their word of God to them, because that was the way the synagogue carried on its ministry and it was the way the early church carried on its ministry too. And finally, after the speaker has discoursed following the reading of the prophets, the service was concluded by a priest giving the Aaronic benediction of Numbers chapter 6.

So there were prayers, a confession of the Shema, the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the exposition of the Scripture, and then the Aaronic benediction. Now we read here that Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read, they stood when they read. Apparently the attendant came to our Lord, handed him a copy of the Prophets and he stood up to read. We read and there was delivered unto Him the book of the Prophet Esaias and when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, and that of course is the exact place we are looking at tonight. So he opened the chapter 61. And then we read, he found the place where it was written,

“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, to preach the acceptable year of the LORD, and he closed the book and gave it again unto the minister (and that is the attendant, the hazzan, and sat down). And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.”

Now we of course stand up to teach, and sit down when we are through. They stood up to read and then sat down to teach. I have never known of but one man who sat down to teach the word and that was William R. Newell. And he used to sit down on the platform and teach the word. Now the reason that he sat down on the platform and taught the word however was because he had arthritis and he couldn’t stand up. And he is the only man that I know of who would stand to read and sit down to teach. We do the opposite.

But Jesus sat down and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened upon him because now he was going to teach and he was recognized as being qualified to teach and he began to say unto them,

“This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ear.”

In other words, Isaiah 61 verses 1 and part of 2, for he stopped at “to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, this Scripture is fulfilled today. Now he was entering into his Messianic ministry. That should give us a clue that Isaiah chapter 61, verse 1 and at least part of verse 2, has to do with the ministry of the Messiah. In chapter 60, the City’s glory had been set forth and now Messiah’s ministry, which prepares the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem for kingdom blessing is described. So the servant is going to speak of his mission.

You remember that at one or two times during our series in Isaiah, I have made reference to the Ethiopian eunuch’s question to Philip when the evangelist drew near his chariot. Remember that when he drew near, he heard the eunuch reading Isaiah chapter 53. And remember, that he asked him did he understand what he read? He said, “‘No, how can I except some man should teach me?’ And he invited Philip up into his chariot, but he asked him a question. Of whom speaketh the prophet this, of himself, that is of Isaiah, or of some other man?”

Now if you read the commentaries on Isaiah 61, you will discover that that is the precise question that they are still asking. The most modern commentary on Isaiah 61 will say, now we have to discuss the question of who is the prophet speaking and many of the modern commentators, in fact the great majority of them say that the prophet is speaking of himself, that when we read the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, it is Isaiah speaking of himself. It is very striking to me that the same question that the eunuch asked Philip is a question that men ask today. Of whom speaketh the prophet this of himself or of some other man.

And I want to tell you that I think, without question, that this text has to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses are of the Messiah, and I want to say that the reason that I am saying that these verses are of the Messiah is not because Jesus in Luke chapter 4 said that they referred to Him. That is what he did say. It would be possible for these texts to be of Isaiah the Prophet and of our Lord if our Lord was taking them typically.

For remember, all of the priests of the Old Testament illustrate the great priest Jesus Christ. All of the theocratic kings of the Old Testament, not only David, Solomon and others, all in the Davidic clan are illustrations, adumbrations overshadowings of the greater king of David who shall come in the future. They are typical kings. He is the “typical king.” They are typical priests. He is the “typical priest.” All of the prophets of the old Testament in the function of their office are typical of the Prophet. Now if our Lord said that it had to do with Him, he might say it had to do with him typically. Isaiah was speaking of himself, but Isaiah’s words find their ultimate fulfillment in me. He could refer that to himself even though in the Old Testament it referred to Isaiah.

But there are other reasons for believing that this is not a typical prophecy, but a direct Messianic prophecy. For example, Isaiah never in all of his prophecy speaks of himself as a prophet at such length as we find here. He refers to himself in the sixth chapter for example of the book, he refers to himself as being called by God to his ministry but never does he speak of himself as a prophet at such length anywhere else. Furthermore, all of the things that he says of himself, whoever this is speaking, all of the things that he says of himself are found in other passages in Isaiah to refer to the servant of Jehovah or our Lord Jesus.

For example, take your Bibles and turn back to chapter 42 and remember we have studied the Servant of Jehovah passages, these are prophetic passages about an individual called the Servant of Jehovah who is to do the will of God and bring blessing to Jews and gentiles. Notice Isaiah chapter 42 and verse 1, the prophet speaks, “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; and so here we are told that the Spirit of the Lord has been put upon the servant of Jehovah. And the servant of Jehovah is Jesus Christ.

In chapter 61, we read, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me”. So the same thing that is affirmed of the Servant of Jehovah in chapter 42 is affirmed of this individual in chapter 61. The spirit is upon him.

Furthermore, we also read in chapter 48, verse 16 that he has been sent. And here we read that the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted.

We read in chapter 50 and verse 4 that he has given “The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak, A word in season to him that is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.”

And here we read of the way in which he is sent to give comfort to those that mourn, to those that are in heaviness, to those that are in bitterness.

In chapter 49 and verse 9, we read concerning the servant of Jehovah

That Thou may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ To them that are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ Notice that Thou may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth.’ Now here in chapter 61, verse 1, we read of this person that he has to proclaim liberty to the captives. And the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

Now, I won’t look at this any more. We would waste too much time, but I think it should be obvious what I am trying to say. It is this: The things that are said of this individual in Isaiah chapter 61 are things that are said of the servant of Jehovah and we have already seen that the servant of Jehovah in Isaiah is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who is going to come, who is going to suffer, who is going to die, who is going to be raised from the dead and who is going to give blessing to Israel and to the gentiles and bring in the kingdom of God. So, when we read in Isaiah chapter 61, the Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, that me does not refer to Isaiah the Prophet, it refers to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore when Jesus stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth, opened his scroll to this passage and read it and said, “This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your years,” if you had a been a Jew sitting in the synagogue and you had rushed up to him afterwards and if you had said, “Rabbi, rabbi do you mean to say that you are the one of whom Isaiah is speaking or do you mean to say that in this act in which you have engaged, we have something that is similar to that, typical.” And our Lord would have replied, “I am not taking that prophecy typically, I am taking that prophecy as a direct Messianic prophecy of Me.” That is what he would have said, I believe.

Now then, let us look at it. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, he was inaugurated into his Messianic office when the Spirit came upon him at the baptism. Now he speaks as one who has the spirit and he has to carry out his ministry now in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is stated in the New Testament that Jesus performed his ministry in the power of the Spirit. And all of his messianic work was done in that power. What is his Messianic ministry? That the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.

He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted. I wish that I could devote, really, I am serious about this. You often hear me say this, I wish we could two hours on this. I am not really kidding. I really believed, almost always when I say that, I really believe that we would not exhaust these verses or sections by taking an hour or two. And I fully believe with all of my heart that all of these qualities are worthy of entire sermons. The Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; You know, I am going to tell you something. I do not think that that is a reference to the preaching of the gospel simply.

You see this is what I would like to do. I would like to be able to say, now listen, you cannot leave this room until 12 o’clock. The doors are locked. There is no way out. And then I would like to go back to the Old Testament and I would like to turn to a passage in Leviticus, chapter 25 in which Moses speaks about the year of Jubilee. And I would like to point out all of the details of that year. Some of the things are these, may as well tell you now. The Jews had a law given by God which was designed from its beginning to its end to reflect spiritual principles. It was designed to be a giant picture of the ministry of our Lord, his person and his work.

Now, in the Jubilee law, these things were true. Let’s suppose, for example, that certain disastrous events happened in my family and it became necessary for me to sell my land which had been given to me by God. Let’s suppose that I had illness and expenses and I found it necessary to sell my land to you. Now that price was regulated in accordance with the fact that at the end of a fifty year period of time all debts were cancelled and all land was given back to the one who originally owned it. You can never lose your land in Israel beyond that 50-year period. If there are only 5 years until the year of Jubilee, obviously you wouldn’t give me much for the use of my land for only 5 years as you would if there were 45 years to the year of Jubilee. You would have it for 45 years. So the year of Jubilee came to pass every 50 years. The debts were cancelled, land was paid back, and furthermore, instead of different work in that 50th year. God said I am going to you enough produce from your land in the 49th year, so that you can live in the 49th year, the 50th year and then in the 51st year, the first year of the new 50 years, you are going to have to plant and I am going to give you so much in that last year that you can rest for a while. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to live through one of those Jubilees?

So, the Jubilee was announced with a blowing of the trumpet and furthermore, after the trumpet was blown and these lands were returned, the land was given rest and by the way that happened on the Day of Atonement. That was the day that the trumpets blew. Now you see, I am getting very involved here, but it has to be. Israel had a series of feasts, Passover, first fruits, etc., and these priests represented an entire redemptive cycle. The Day of Atonement in Israel’s cycle of feasts was designed to represent ultimately the coming of the Messiah to the earth. It is very striking that the year of Jubilee was announced on the day of atonement, because the Jubilee law came to be a law that expressed typically the messianic kingdom for you see the land was rested, liberty was given to those who were in bondage, those who had lost their property, got their property back, it was a time of freedom, it was a time of joy, it was a time of the enjoyment of ancient possessions and it happened as the beginning of the day of atonement.

Now this expression, he has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, that preaching good tidings unto the meek, is a reference in Isaiah to the blowing of the trumpet on the day of Jubilee. Isn’t that interesting? You thought this was day of the preaching of the gospel that Christ died for your sins and that he was buried and that he rose again. Of course that is the good tidings today. But Isaiah is using that day of Jubilee as a background and his language is designed to show that the Messianic ministry is the issue in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He says he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted. Now that is a wonderful text. There are no greater wounds than wounds of the heart. It is bad to have a broken limb and it is bad to have bruised flesh, but a fractured heart. What a terrible thing that is. It is the most pitiable distress that a person can possibly have, a broken heart. Each was such, sit by wells of sorrow, having forgotten the palm trees of Elim for the better waters of Mara. But he heals the broken hearted. He heals from the sense of guilt. He heals when we have the sense of rejection. He heals when there comes affliction and bereavement. And if any one has known what it is to lose someone who is dear to them, then perhaps you have some understanding of what it is to know that Jesus Christ is able to bind up the broken hearted. And I think the key to his binding up of the broken hearted is the doctrine of the resurrection.

Wonderful to know my brother shall rise again, as Martha said. It is wonderful to know that those loved ones who we have known and who we have loved and whom the Lord has desired to take to himself are with him and shall experience the resurrection and so shall we and so shall we be rejoined to them as well as to the Lord. Jesus is the only person who is able to bind up the broken hearted. It is very difficult when you have lost someone for anyone to comfort you. It is very difficult to accept also the words of our Lord, I will, that the one whom Thou hast given to me be with me where I am. We too often want to say, I will that the one whom Thou hast then given be with me where I am. But God often says, “I wish him to be with the Lord where he is.” While our Lord is able to bind up the broken hearted and if you have ever gone to him for comfort, then you know what this is.

I think it is so interesting here to read that, “He has anointed me, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted.” Daniel somewhere speaks about the Lord has sent his angel to deliver, but here we read that it is the Lord himself. It is a personal service. You know this great physician still makes house calls. He is quite a bit different from the physicians of today. I saw a little cartoon the other day of some fellow who went into the hospital and was talking to the girl at the counter in the hospital and he was told the doctor does not make hospital calls anymore. But here is one who makes personal calls. He has sent me and it is wonderful to know that it is our Lord himself who ministers to us and he has been sent to bind up the broken hearted.

Now notice, to proclaim liberty to the captives. What does that mean? While we were talking about the year of Jubilee were we not? Do you know that this precise expression “liberty, to proclaim liberty” is the precise expression that is found in Leviticus chapter 25 “when the trumpet blows and the goods of all of the Israelites is restored to them.” To proclaim liberty to the captives is to pronounce that the year of Jubilee has come and the ante-type of the year of Jubilee is the Messianic kingdom of our Lord Jesus.

Isn’t it striking too that when Jesus comes again to establish his kingdom on the earth, we read that there is going to be the blowing of a trumpet in Matthew chapter 24? All of these things find their fulfillment in the New Testament reality. I told my wife the other day, in fact yesterday. I was going over some of these things again and you know often when I get to my desk and have my Hebrew Bible and this bible and my books surround me and I begin to study all of these words and clauses and phrases, I sometimes get so frustrated because I don’t have but just while I have had a little over 50 years to devote to the – I haven’t even had 50 years to devote to the word of God, I have been living a little over 50 years. I have had 25 years to devote to the study of the bible and I need a 125. And I don’t think I am going to make it.

But the word of God is full of so much and Mary always says, well, maybe you will get to study it in heaven. And I hope so. I don’t think she was doubting that I was going to be in heaven. But you know it is so tremendous, the study of the word of God. And this book is so wonderful, I wish that I could just communicate to you exactly what has been communicated to me by the Spirit for you would have no question whatsoever about its inspiration. But the thing is it would take me an hour to explain all of just these little things that you discover to proclaim liberty to the captive. One great year of Jubilee except magnified to one thousand is the kingdom of our Lord upon the earth, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Now our Lord was in the synagogue at Nazareth, surprisingly he closed the book at that point. Now you don’t read the Bible this way. You read onto the end of a sentence don’t you? You don’t stop in the middle of the sentence “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And even in the Hebrew text, you should finish. And the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all that mourn, but he did not read that. He sat down right at this point and he said, this day has this Scripture been fulfilled in your year.” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me to do this preaching, he has pulled me to come and announce to you, well what did Jesus preach? Repent for the kingdom is at hand. The year of Jubilee has come. The king is here. The kingdom is here. Now is the time to enter into the blessings of the promised kingdom. He stopped right in the middle of the word.

Well, you know of course why he stopped. The next clause is in the day of vengeance of our God. The day of vengeance is the time of the Second Advent of our Lord, when he executes judgment upon the earth. As a matter of fact, there are now 1900 years between the year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God. That comma represents at this point about 1900 years. Our Lord was asking for a decision on the part of Israel. The King is here. What will you do? That is one of the most striking instances of the fact that in the bible we must learn to distinguish the passages that have to do with the first coming of our Lord and the passages that have to do with the second coming.

It also is one of the beautiful illustrations of the fact that in the Old Testament, this period of time between the first coming and the second coming is never clearly delineated, because it depends upon Israel’s unbelief. It has stretched out to 1900 years because Israel has persisted in unbelief. The one thing that has hindered the fulfillment of this program from the earthly standpoint is Israel’s unbelief. From the divine standpoint, he is working out all of his purposes concerning the church, but from the earthly standpoint, the one thing that hinders Israel from entering into all of these blessings is Israel’s unbelief. So Jesus stopped in the middle of the verse.

He had given an emancipation proclamation that was greater than Lincoln’s. Did you notice too the difference between the year and the day to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance? Vengeance is a short term actually, it takes place very rapidly. But, the year, the acceptable year of the Lord is an expression that is designed figuratively to express the entire kingdom period.

Well, we must just give you a kind of outline of the remainder here, he says in verse 2 at the end, to comfort all that mourns, all who take the failure of Zion to heart are they who mourn, to comfort all that mourn, 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.

Now I like that expression, trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. Isn’t it wonderful to realize that even though Israel is in unbelief and down through these years has failed to respond to our Lord, the time is coming when they shall, when they shall enter into all of their blessings and then they shall be known as the planting of the Lord. In other words, in Israel’s salvation, we shall have the same stress upon the divine sovereignty of God, his distinguishing grace, he has chosen Israel among the nations and men shall glorify God as they see what he has done in Israel. From the beginning to the end of the bible, there is this great stress on the grace of God.

Do you remember Christian in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress? Do you remember the heavy sighs that he hears, the tears that fell from his eyes, the wretched way in which he fell, that burden that seemed to press down upon him so heavily? And he spoke about the fact that the city in which he dwelt was going to be burnt? And then he was undone by reason of this great burden that fell upon him and finally, he stood before the cross and he looked at the cross and suddenly the bands that bound his burden cracked and the burden fell off at the shoulders and rolled down the hill and it rolled into a sepulcher and he saw the burden no more.

And Bunyan says that when he saw it, he gave three leaps for joy and he sang out blessed cross, blessed sepulcher, blessed rather be the man that there would put the shame for me. He came to an understanding of grace. And so Israel shall come to an understanding of this and throughout the whole of the world men shall say Israel is the planting of the Lord and they shall glorify God in it.

Now in the remainder of chapter 61, the servant speaks of the effects of his coming. The servant exalts in the salvation that God provides and he speaks by the way as if he has saved. Notice verse 10, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, I do not think that the servant had to be saved, he stands as the representative of the people.”

He is the ideal Israelite and consequently, he experiences for them the blessing of God. In the 62nd chapter, he speaks of his zeal for Zion’s glory, he speaks of the futurian statement of the nation and he appeals for constant prayer, he says in verse 6, “I have set watchmen up on Thy walls, O Jerusalem; which shall never hold their peace day or night. He that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence.” He speaks of Zion’s reign and he appeals to the nation to come home at the end of the chapter, because he is going to come home. Well, time is up, I am sorry that we do not have time to deal with all of these verses. But we have to respect that clock. Let’s bow in prayer.

[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for this great passage on the servant of Jehovah and we thank Thee that our great messiah is one who is able to bind up the broken hearted, who is able to give liberty to the captives, and we thank Thee for the hope that we have and we thank Thee for the hope that Israel has and we pray that we may learn to lean upon our great messiah who has saved us and who longs to save his people Israel that his purposes may be accomplished. Go with us as we part.

For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Posted in: Isaiah