Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“ To bestow on [us] 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 splendour.” (Isaiah 61:3)

As we peruse the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, we observe that a number of prophecies alluding to the coming of the Messiah were made by some privileged Old Testament prophets. All of these prophets in different ways spoke of a coming event that would bring on stage the Messiah, sent by God. His role would be to pick up the broken pieces, knit together the fabric of a renewed purpose for humankind. The Messiah would be assigned the task of remedying an unfortunate situation that was triggered by disobedience in the Garden of Eden.

Indeed God had charged His creation – Adam and Eve -- who were a replica of His image and likeness, with a simple and straightforward instruction not to eat of the fruit of the tree that was planted in the middle of the Garden, where He had put them. 

The Messiah would come to restore the broken relationship between God and Man that Satan – the fallen angel -- through ruse (disguised as a serpent) had fractured. He had deceived Adam and Eve to disregard the only instruction God had given them.

How would this happen?

The Messiah would come through the lineage of a king, an heir of King David, making Him royalty and conferring on Him a sovereign status. “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign in David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish it.” (Isaiah 9:7)   

This prophecy became a reality in the New Testament some 800 years after the prophet Isaiah declared it. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33) In the Gospel of the apostle John, it is wrapped up thusly; “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only. Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14)

--He came to repair broken hearts

The prophet Isaiah portrays in this prophecy how the Messiah would come to repair broken hearts. “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 the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of God’s favour ... to comfort all who mourn.” (Isaiah 61:1-2) The psalmist assures us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) “The Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Our Lord Jesus used these same words to say to His Jewish audience in the synagogue in Nazareth that this prophecy alluded to Him. “With the eyes of the congregation fastened on Him, He said to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ ” (Luke 4:21b)

--The Burden-Bearer

This world is fraught with myriad problems because the prince of this world, Lucifer, is actively ‘roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it,” ‘looking for someone to devour.’ Stop carrying your load all by yourself, the Messiah has conquered the devil, so you have no reason to fear.  If you are burdened by a lot of unnecessary baggage, the word for you is, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22) 

The Lord Jesus is the answer; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. And I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

--He came to set captives free

“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”(John 8:32) A good many of us have been held bound by ignorance, having been raised in traditions with no spiritual grounding, espousing and being influenced by all ‘winds of doctrine.’ They only succeed in blinding us from the truth and keeping us bound. Our Lord Jesus declared to all who care to listen “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him.” (John 14:6)

Our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, came to redeem humanity and to reconcile us to the Father. For when our ancestors sinned that relationship was broken. To restore this relationship God sent His Son, born of a Virgin, that whoever believes in Him may be saved and have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)