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Lowell Brueckner

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The Messiah and the People


56. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 61 and 62

Chapter 61

This chapter contains clear Messianic prophecy that Christ Himself brought to the attention of His hometown people in Nazareth. It was His custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath and Luke 4:17 states that they gave Him the book of Isaiah to read. He found the portion that is before us, read from it, and then made the dramatic statement: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk.4:21).

 Verse 1 declares that He is the Messiah, the Christ, meaning the anointed of the Father: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” The first thing that I would like to point out is that the ministry of Christ was a work of the trinity from beginning to end. At His baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Him like a dove and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17). Concerning His resurrection, Jesus said: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn.2:19). He was raised from the dead “according to the Spirit of holiness” (Ro.1:4). The Father “God raised him from the dead” (Ac.13:30).

Topping the list of deeds that outline His ministry is to preach good news. It is incredibly good tidings and the world has never heard or offered its equal. Before its message, all the earth’s population is poverty-stricken, destined to death and hell. Candidates to receive the gospel are those, who recognize their spiritual condition and therefore gladly pay attention.

Akin to the spiritually poor are the brokenhearted, victims of deceit and empty promises that have not been kept. Christ will speak of real truth with everlasting value that not only comforts, but heals. To the multitudes bound in chains of sin, He provides escape and freedom from its prison. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn.8:32,34,36). These are evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit upon Christ.

“The year of the Lord’s favor…” With this phrase, Jesus ended His reading from the book of Isaiah, rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant and sat down. Everyone present in the synagogue, well-versed in this Messianic prophecy, continued looking intently at Him. Why? It is my view that they were simply wondering why He had stopped in the middle of a sentence. The answer is that it was at this point that the prophecy concerning his first coming terminated. From there on, Isaiah was pointing to His second coming. The comma that separates the two-part prediction in the same verse, represents some two thousand years!

The year mentioned here refers to the symbolic year of Jubilee, which was celebrated every fifty years, when slaves were freed, debts were erased, and property was restored to the original owners. Restoration and freedom mark the gospel era, when the Lord’s grace or favor is offered to the world. During the Age of Grace, the poor will say, “I am rich” and the weak will say, “I am strong”, as salvation is restored to as many as believe among the human race. 

“The day of vengeance of our God” will occur, when Christ returns to earth, as Paul states, “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Th.1:7,8). The apostle began his statement by assuring that in that day, God would “grant relief to you who are afflicted,” or, as Isaiah promised, He would “comfort all who mourn” (v.2).

The Holy Spirit-anointed, poetic language describes the joy of Zion at the onset of the Millennium. There will be an ornamental headdress, worn in times of joy, instead of casting ashes over the head; the perfumed oil of festive events will replace mourning; sackcloth will be discarded and the brightly-colored garments of gratitude will be put on. The evident “planting of the Lord” will bring Him glory, as He produces men, John the Baptist-style, solidly established in righteousness, compared to oak trees, rather than “a reed shaken by the wind” (Lk.7:24 and v.3).

Imagine taking a tourist excursion of Israel during the time of Christ’s reign. The ruins of the Tribulation will be rebuilt, along with the historic sites of Israelite history (v.4). The Jewish spirit will be restored after centuries of reproach and persecution. The nations will serve Israel as shepherds, farmers and vinedressers (v.5), so that the Jews can dedicate themselves to becoming a nation of intercessory priests, standing between the gentile nations and their Messiah, teaching the ways of God and the principles of the kingdom (v.6).  

They will receive a double portion of blessing. Their wars will have ended, their iniquity will be pardoned and the Lord will speak to them in loving tenderness, whereas previously, “she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Is.40:2). Instead of shame and dishonor, they will have a joyful lot in life and the joy will endure into eternity (v.7).

Christ takes His place to fulfill the covenant that God gave to David. He promised that David’s descendant would rule His people eternally and He is faithful and righteous in bringing it to pass. Not a thought can ever be entertained that the lover of justice and the hater of robbery and wrong, should ever fail to keep His word (v.8). He will bless the members of David’s race and they will be respected as nobility around the globe. To be born a Jew will mean to be blessed of God, which will be the greatest privilege on earth (v.9).

Isaiah demonstrates to us its meaning, when God brings salvation by grace into His people. It is the same glorious work that is done in every individual who believes in Christ: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Faith brings him into the joy of salvation provided by the Lord without human works of righteousness. Because it is a divine, glorious work, “I will greatly rejoice… my soul shall exult in my God.” He is clothed by God, “as a bridegroom… like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (v.10).

Surer than the law of nature that causes a planted garden to sprout, so surely will that, which God plants in the heart, spring up in the sight of all the nations. The seed is covered by soil, while life begins unseen, but the law of nature, God’s faithful nature, demands that a visible sprout will appear: “So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations” (v.11).

Chapter 62

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch” (v.1). Isaiah sets the example for his people and for the church in praying for the future of Jerusalem and specifically for Mount Zion. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come”, teaching his disciples to await the Millennium and to love Jerusalem. The Psalmist instructed, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you!” (Ps.122:6)

According to His humanity, Christ was a Jew by race. The Christian today should love the Jew and desire the time of his bright future bliss. He is the hope of a positive state on this earth. “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory…” Jerusalem will be the model city for the world, ruled in righteousness and burning as a torch before the eyes of all the kings of the nations. Its greatness will be fashioned by the Lord and He will name it according to its characteristics. It will revel in a new glory that has never been seen or experienced in world history. “You shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give” (v.2).

Zion royal beauty will call attention to its Founder and Architect, who will now sit upon the throne of David. Zion is kept and governed by His hand and is the crowning glory of His kingdom (v.3). Its future is sure and faultless; its old names, which are part of the flaws of its past, are forever cast aside. It was termed Forsaken and the nation was called Desolate.

The new name, describing its new relationship with the Lord will be My Delight Is in Her (Good King Hezekiah’s wife, Hephzi-bah) and the surrounding nation will be named Married (Beulah), well-tended and fruitful. The names reflect the pleasure that the Lord takes in her, because He will join Himself to her as a Husband (v.4). This will be their relationship in the Millennium.

Zion’s citizens happily possess their land, from which they were separated for centuries. They will be joined as one with the city and the land in love and loyalty. “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (v.5). The inhabitant, the city and God rejoice together in wonderful communion.

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In Isaiah, watchmen are typical of prayer warriors (see chapter 21:6-11). Jesus commanded, “Watch and pray.” As this chapter began, so now it continues with a plea to intercede for Jerusalem. Intercessors are placed upon the wall, so that they can see what is coming from the outside and advise those who are inside. People who pray are people who can see and preach to their fellows: “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth” (v.6,7).

This call to prayer is specifically for Jerusalem and it is even more actual than in Isaiah’s day. We are living in a time, when the church should join with the Jew in a cry to God to move powerfully to bring the reign of Christ to the earth. With the call, there is something to be learned about prayer in general, which is consistent with the doctrine of Jesus: “He told them a parable to the effect they ought always to pray and not lose heart… Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk.18:1,7). The prayer meeting must be restored and we should expect nothing from the Lord until it is. If we are looking for a scriptural basis for 24-hour prayer chains, these two, one by Isaiah and one by Jesus, would be good ones.  

“The Lord has sworn by His right hand and by his mighty arm.” Lying men might have to swear, but the God of Truth never needs to swear, for every word that comes from His lips is absolute truth. He swears for the sake of His people: “So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Heb.6:18). The Lord promises with an oath that foreigners will never again enter Israel and eat their grain or drink their wine (v.8). Those who have worked the land will eat and drink their own products and give God praise for them in the courts of His sanctuary (v.9). Their daily activities will become holy, along with their specific spiritual practices.

The highways will be prepared to the gates of Jerusalem. God will inspire the motivation in the hearts of His people to build and to come: “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people…” Signs mark the way; a standard is raised: “Lift up a signal over the peoples.” (v.10). He is calling His ancient people from the ends of the earth “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him” (v.11). Jesus Himself said these words in Revelation 22:7 and 12, referring to His Second Coming and the Rapture of the Church. His cry goes out to the Jew first, the Daughter of Zion, and also to the Greek (also Is.40:10).

“And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken.” All these are proper names, the “new name” promised in verse 2. The Holy One of Israel will have a Holy People, through His redemptive power. They will be part of a city that people in the Millennium will long to see, a city to which God will restore fortune and beauty, far beyond what it has ever had, fully recompensing it for its former abandonment (v.12).

I believe God is already working in the hearts of the Jew, impassioning him with a desire to inhabit Zion, and they have returned and continue to return to the Promised Land. Just so, He is creating a deep and passionate hunger in the heart of the Gentile to prepare for the upcoming moving of the Holy Spirit in the earth.


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