The Word Made Fresh
1The spirit of the LORD is upon me and has anointed me
to bring good news to the oppressed
to heal the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners.
2The spirit is upon me to announce the year of the LORD’s favor,
and our God’s day of vengeance;
to comfort those who mourn in Zion
3and provide for them – to give them a crown of flowers, not ashes;
to give them joy instead of grief
and cover them with praise instead of a weak spirit.
They will stand as oaks of righteousness
planted by the LORD, showing God’s glory.
4They shall restore the ancient ruins and remove the devastations.
They shall repair the cities that were ruined,
devastated through many generations.
5Strangers shall feed your flocks.
Foreigners shall farm your fields and trim your vineyards.
6You shall be known as servants of our God.
You shall embrace the wealth of the nations
and find glory in their riches.
7Your shame was severe, and you were dishonored and therefore,
you shall receive double what you have lost,
and you shall have everlasting joy.
8I, the LORD, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrong offerings.
I will be faithful and give them what they deserve
and make an eternal agreement with them.
9Their children shall be renowned among the nations,
and among all the people.
Everyone who sees them will understand
that they have been blessed by the LORD.
10And I will have deep joy in the LORD,
and rejoice in my God with everything I have,
for God has covered me with salvation.
I am clothed in righteousness, as a bridegroom wears garlands,
and as a bride is adorned with jewels.
11As the ground brings forth its produce
and as the garden springs up with what has been sown,
just so the LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all the nations.
1-4: The book marches on now toward its happy conclusion, an observation which is a bit surprising given all that has gone before. But, other than a brief excursion into Edom’s fate, the prophet Isaiah will be content to draw all the strings together into the ultimate glad outcome of God’s often terrible acts. You will recognize the opening words as the scripture Jesus boldly read to the congregation at Nazareth as he was beginning his public ministry. They nearly lynched him for proclaiming himself to be the fulfillment of the prophecy (Luke 4: 16-30). Isaiah, of course, intended these verses as a word of comfort, assuring the remnant in Jerusalem that God has great plans for them.
5-9: Not only will their suffering be ended, but they will become the spiritual center honored by all the nations.
10-11: Notice the change from third to first person singular. The prophet himself rejoices that God has allowed him to be the bearer of God’s plans for God’s people.
God will allow our suffering to be a way of cleansing us from unwarranted self-esteem. When things are going badly, be patient. God is with us in every circumstance of life.