Learning from Isaiah 61-66
61:1-11 - ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me... to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (1-2). Jesus has fulfilled these words (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus has come, ‘proclaiming the Good News of God’. He tells us that ‘the time has come’. This is the time of opportunity, the time for making our response to Jesus Christ. He calls for our response - ‘Repent and believe the Good News!’. He calls us to make our response now - ‘now is the acceptable time... now is the day of salvation’ (Mark 1:14-15; 2 Corinthians 6:2). There will come a time when the time of opportunity comes to an end. When Christ returns ‘with power and great glory’, it will be ‘the Day of vengeance of our God’. We do not know when Christ will return. Get ‘ready’ for His Return. Put your ‘faith’ in Him (2; Matthew 24:30,36,44; 25:13; Luke 18:8).
62:1-12 - God has given us ‘a new Name’. It is ‘the Name which is above every name’, the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (2; Philippians 2:9-11). Christ loves us. He has given Himself for us. He calls us His ‘Bride’ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2,9). Through faith in Christ, we have become ‘the Holy People’. Through Him, we are ‘the Redeemed of the Lord’. We have been ‘Sought After’ by the Lord. In Him, we are ‘the City No Longer Deserted’ (12; 1 Peter 2:9-9-10; 1:18-19; Luke 19:10; John 14:18). ‘There is a Name I love to hear... It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free. It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea... Jesus, the Name I love so well, the Name I love to hear!... O how I love the Saviour’s Name, the sweetest Name on earth!’ (Mission Praise, 672).
63:1-19 - The Lord our God is ‘mighty to save’. He has shown His ‘steadfast love’ to us. He has become our ‘Saviour’. ‘In His love’, He has ‘redeemed’ us (1,7-9). We read here about the power of God - He is ‘mighty to save’ - and the love of God - ‘In His love’, He has ‘redeemed’ us. What love the Lord has for us - ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...’ (John 3:16)! What power there is in the Gospel of love - ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16)! What a ‘Saviour’ we have - Our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him’ (Hebrews 7:25)! Think of Jesus Christ. Think of His love, His power, His salvation. Thank Him for all He has done for you - ‘Alleluia! What a Saviour!’ (Church Hymnary, 380)
64:1-65:12 - We confess our sins to God - ‘We sinned... All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. We look to God for forgiveness - ‘Do not remember our sins for ever’ (64:5-6,9). We know that God hears and answers our prayer. Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to our prayer. He has ‘come down’ from heaven to earth. ‘The Son of the Most High’ has been ‘born’ into our world. Jesus Christ is God’s way of saying ‘Here am I! Here am I!’. He is ‘God with us’ (64:1; 65:1; Luke 1:32,35; Matthew 1:23). ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’. Let us ‘confess our sins’. ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’ - Let us come to God with faith, believing that He ‘will forgive our sins’. (1 John 1:7,9). Let us rejoice in Jesus, our Saviour!
65:13-66:4 - What a contrast there is between those who belong to Christ - ‘My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts’ - and those who have refused to come to Christ for salvation - ‘You will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit’ (14)! God is preparing a great future ‘for those who love Him’ - ‘I will create a new heaven and a new earth’. He is calling us away from our sins - ‘Past things will not be remembered. They will not come to mind’. He is calling us to His ‘holy mountain’. How can we enter into our full enjoyment of God’s eternal salvation? God’s Word tells us: ‘I will pay attention to those who are humble and sorry for their sins and who tremble at My Word’ (65:17,25; 66:2; 1 Corinthians 2:9). Make sure that you belong to Christ. Put your faith in Him (John 3:18,36).
66:5-24 - ‘Hear the Word of the Lord’. How are we to listen to God’s Word? We are to ‘tremble at His Word’. We are to ‘drink deeply with delight’ (5,10-11). There is to be the fear of the Lord. There is to be joy in the Lord. These are not opposites. They belong together - ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling... Rejoice in the Lord’ (Philippians 2:12; 3:1). We hear God’s warning, and we ‘tremble’. To those who ‘sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth’, God says this: ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:26,31). We hear God’s promise, and we ‘rejoice’: ‘The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27). Let us ‘hear the Word of the Lord’ - the warning as well as the promise!