Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 11: Friday
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares Yahweh.
Friday’s Bible reading is Isaiah 56–61. As I wrote several weeks ago, they are in what Dr. Gleason Archer calls the ‘volume of comfort.’ which began in chapter 40.1 He writes that in the entire book:
“Isaiah sets forth the doctrine of Christ is such full detail that he has rightly been described as the “evangelical prophet.” Deeper Christological insights are to be found in his work than anywhere else in the Old Testament.”2
Alec Motyer titles the remaining chapters in Isaiah, Isaiah 55–66, The Book of the Conqueror,3 and says, “Yahweh’s final action — the coming salvation — the revelation of the Anointed Conqueror (Isaiah 59:14–63:6) . . . constitutes the heart of Isaiah 56-66.”4
“There is still one great achievement of the Servant’s saving work which has to be put into effect: his taking of the strong as his spoil (53:12), the consummation of his victory over all his foes. This work of conquest will be performed by the anointed Conqueror whom we meet in 59:14–63:6…5 For this the Lord’s people are called to wait in obedience and righteous living (56:1).”6
The summer I became a Christian, in my wanderings through the Bible I found in Isaiah 59 words that astonished me because they described exactly how I was feeling in my search to know God. I was groping and stumbling in a search along a wall. I was a sadly moaning dove hoping for justice and salvation, but finding both far from me.
Isaiah not only described the symptoms of my unknown illness, he diagnosed it: my sin had separated me from God. I hadn’t committed a crime and I’d tried to be good, but I could think of many things I had done that were wrong. I knew I had sinned. I still didn’t know how to get past my sin to God, but the words were a relief to read. Within Isaiah’s imagery I clearly saw myself.
Against this backdrop in Isaiah 59, the Redeemer comes.
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares Yahweh.
“Like the Servant, the coming Conqueror is revealed in four special passages, starting in 59:20 and cluminating in the spine-tingling climax of 63:1–6…7
“Against the background of all that is wrong with his people (59:1–13) Yahweh now undertakes for them, himself donning the garments of salvation and also of vengeance, for he purposes to deal finally, too, with all who oppose him. The section 59:14–19 is an introduction to this, and sets the background for the revelation of the covenant-maker (59:20–21), the one anointed to comfort and exact vengeance (61:1–3). It is, in fact, this Anointed One who in the event is robed in the garments of salvation (61:10–62:7), and who, alone, performs the work of salvation and vengeance (63:1–6).”8
Isaiah 61:1–2a contains verses that the Lord Jesus himself read aloud in the synagogue at Nazareth when His ministry was just beginning. Luke records what happened:
BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
Today every group and business, small or large, finds it necessary to define its mission statement. Here in Isaiah the mission of the Messiah was given: God foretold this and Jesus fulfilled this in His years of ministry.
Motyer writes that Isaiah 61:1–62:12:
“comprises the second and third poems about the Anointed One (61:1–3; 61:10–62:7). Each is followed by verses of comment and application (61:4–9; 62:8–12). Like in the second Servant song (49:1–6), the Anointed One (61:1) has a double task—good tidings and vengeance. As in the third Sevant song (50:4–9), the Anointed One speaks with his own voice and tells how he is joyfully committed and equipped for the work of salvation.”9
This is Motyer’s translation of Isaiah 61:10–11:10
my soul will exult my God,
for he has dressed me in garments of salvation,
in a robe of righteousness he wraps me,
like a bridegroom puts on his priestly head-dress,
and like a bride pins on her jewels.
For like the earth produces its sprouts,
and like a garden sprouts with what is sown in it,
so the Sovereign Yahweh will make righteousness sprout,
and praise, in front of all the nations.
“‘Salvation’ (v. 10) is the actual work of rescue and deliverance; ‘righteousness’ (vv. 10–11) is the spirit in which it was carried out, the motive which prompted it, and the way in which it conformed to all the requirements of the holy God…
“How blithely we read that ‘for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross…’ (Heb. 12:2), and many have been o say that the ‘joy’ in question was the crown that awaited him. Very likely so, but Isaiah says it was the joy of saving us. We think of the intended humiliation and actual pain of the crown of thorns, but to the Lord Jesus it was a bridegroom’s priestly head-dress (61:10). We picture the bedraggled and bloodstained seamless robe that he wore to Calvary, but to him it was a wedding garment! His Calvary-joy was wedding-day joy…Just as ‘we may not know, we cannot tell what pains he had to bear’, neither can we enter into that joy, but we can be awed by it; our hearts can be moved and our tears flow. This is how much we mean to him. His wedding garments were ‘salvation’ and ‘righteousness’, says Isaiah (61:10). In the Bible, clothing speaks of capacity and commitment. When the Lord showed himself to Joshua as an armed man (Josh. 5:13), it was to display his warrior might and his commitment to win the Lord’s wars. Jesus was dressed in ‘salvation’ because he alone has power to save (Acts 4:12), and because he is personally committed to the work of saving us (John 18:11; Heb. 10:7, 9). He wore the robe of righteousness, first, because he is the perfectly righteous Jesus who knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), did no sin (1 Pet. 2:22), and in whom there was no sin (1 John 3:5). Only the sinless can bear the sins of others. Secondly, he was committed to doing the righteousness—the righteous will—of God, to ‘fulfil all righteousness’ (Matt. 3:15). And thirdly, the salvation he has accomplised is itself a righteous work: the whole law of God is totally satisfied in the price paid, the penalty accepted and endured. Righteousness without salvation would mean our eternal condemnation; salvation without righteousness would not be acceptable to the inviolable holiness of God. Jesus is all-perfect, all-sufficient — all-loving.”11
Jesus said He fulfilled Isaiah 61. Do you know Him? In My Witness I tell how I became a Christian. Read the Gospels, and learn of Jesus and the Good News He came to proclaim.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Jesus Unrolls the Book in the Synagogue: James Tissot. Public Domain.
1,2Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Moody Press, Chicago IL: 1966, 1974) 327, 326.
3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11Alec Motyer, Isaiah By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Scotland, U.K.: 2011) 274; 286; 272; 6; 6; 286; 294; 295–296; 296, 298
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter
” Placed like this, we are called to obedience (56:1) while we await the coming of the Conqueror, the final showdown with the hostile powers (63:1–6) and the New Heaven and New Earth (65:17). 272