Tuesday, February 23, 2010
ISAIAH 61:1-4 Out of the Ashes
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
Thoughts: Jesus clearly saw these verses in Isaiah as fulfilled in him as he came to heal and to help. He comforted and healed the sick and hurting and convicted the self-righteous. God changes our ashes into the oil of gladness. The picture above is the Phoenix coming out of the ashes. Christians adopted this story as the story of the resurrection. It is not just Christ's resurrection, but our own that this symbolizes. It is not just what happens to us after we die, but what God does with us- in conversion, in sanctification, in daily life. He takes what is worthless and makes it a crown. When Yellowstone caught fire in 1988 and almost 800,000 acres burned (36% of the park), it looked hopeless to ever come back. But the ashes served as natural fertilizer and the park is now greener and healthier than ever. Sickness can be the furnace that purifies us as gold (helping us to see what is important), but also provides fertilizer to our spiritual growth.
Prayer: Lord, you are our comfort and our help. Turn our mourning into dancing. Make a crown of beauty out of the ashes of sorrow.