If you have never read Isaiah 61, please stop and read that chapter. It is incredible!
Isaiah 61 is a prophecy that pointed to the coming Messiah, and all of the things that were going to happen when the Messiah came. Repeatedly in Isaiah 61, we read that instead of getting “X” (what we truly deserve), we are going to receive “Y” (some measure of complete mercy and favor from the Lord) when the Messiah comes. Here are some examples to illustrate what I am talking about:
1. Instead of ashes, we receive a crown of beauty (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)
2. Instead of mourning, we receive the oil of joy (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)
3. Instead of despair, we receive a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)
4. Instead of shame, we receive a double portion (Isaiah 61:7 NIV)
5. Instead of disgrace, we receive a joyful inheritance (Isaiah 61:7 NIV)
Every single day, people ask me in passing, “How are you?” The common response is, “I’m great,” or “I’m fine.” I have recently come across several Christians who like to put a little twist on this common American greeting and respond with, “I’m better than I deserve!” What an incredibly true statement within the context of Isaiah 61!
What we truly deserve from God is to be cut off. We deserve a crown of ashes, mourning, despair, shame and disgrace. However, our God does not think like we think, and He does not see us the way that we see ourselves. He does not choose to look at us and see our sins. He doesn’t treat us according to the punishments that our sins should warrant. Instead, He chooses to look at us and see our value. He sees all the potential still in us to live exactly as He created us to live. So, instead of getting those things we think we deserve, He provides beauty, joy, praise and favor. He provides an inheritance greater than anything we can imagine!
Our God is so good!
I know that sounds cliché and simple. Sometimes, I think that as followers of Christ, we miss the power in that simple statement. Our God is good! He longs to reach out and show His presence in real and tangible ways. He longs to help the blind see, to bind up the broken-hearted, to set captives free, and to proclaim good news to the poor (Luke 4:18 NIV). If you don’t believe that then just turn to the gospels and read about all of the things that Jesus spent a good portion of His time doing; healing the sick, proclaiming the good news, and bringing hope to people who were down and out.
In reference to receiving healing and tangible blessings from God, I once heard someone say, “But my God doesn’t owe me that.” That person was absolutely right! Our God does not owe us any heavenly or earthly blessings. However, our God did not owe us salvation either. Yet, the Bible says that He came and offered us that free gift when we LEAST deserved it (Romans 5:8 NIV).
Of course our God does not owe us physical healing. Of course He does not owe us provision. God doesn’t even owe us breath in our lungs. However, as the life of Jesus clearly indicates, He longs to present us these gifts anyway. Jesus still healed the sick, even when they were sinners (John 5:5-14). He still multiplied fish and loaves to feed people who would later walk away from Him when His teachings became too much to handle (John 6).
He still raised people from the dead and put breath back in their lungs (John 11).
I am not saying that this grace gives us license to do whatever we want! God’s relentless grace was meant to be a beckoning call to repentance. The Bible says that it is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4 KJV). Receiving His undeniable goodness when we are in a place of rebellion to His will makes us drop to our knees in awe of God. It drives us to finally give up fighting for our own will, and to trust Him enough to grab a hold of His.
This reminds me of when Jesus went fishing with Peter for the first time. When Jesus tells Peter where to drop the nets and Peter halls in a massive catch, Peter falls to his knees and says, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8 NIV)! God’s goodness results in trust. Trust results in our submission to His will for our lives. This will for our lives results in an ever-strengthening relationship. Then, as we grow in relationship with Him and begin to do life His way, He can shower even greater heavenly blessings on our lives!
As I read Isaiah 61, I see a God so good that He created a master plan for me. A plan for me to receive every heavenly blessing that I could NEVER possibly earn or deserve.
I see a God proclaiming the plan for His relentless favor to be poured out on humanity, even though humanity did not deserve it.
Credit to: Brian Maisch