The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim 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,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
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.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations. ~ Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
To maintain healthy relationships, whether it be with people or God, communication must take place. As someone who studied counselling for four years I have found this to be especially true in all relationships. One of the major road blocks of communication is when one or both people forget to listen to the actual meaning behind the words being communicated*. It is incredibly easy to ‘half listen’ when someone is talking to you, as there are many distractions in the world today. Take for instance, my husband Josh. In our first month of marriage I said to him “I love you,” to which he responded, “No problem.” Josh heard me speak, however he did not grasp the meaning behind the words I said because he was distracted by a piece of technology. Something small like this has led to many laughs, however the consequences of misunderstanding due to a lack of active listening in a bigger scenario can cause tremendous damage in interpersonal relationships. Active listening is a skill used to help draw meaning out of the words being spoken and it helps to guard against distorted listening*.
Despite my training, I sometimes neglect to actively listen to those around me because this skill requires hard work, focus, and discipline when seeking to grasp meaning. While this difficulty is present in interpersonal communication, the same difficulty applies when we are seeking to understand what God says to us in His Word. When we read Isaiah 61, are we actively seeking the meaning behind the text?
These words written by Isaiah contains a message about all of the righteous gifts promised to us that will change the way we behave, which will ultimately bring glory to God. We see the words about the covenant and the salvation that God is promising. There is also an indication about righteousness and praise that will sprout throughout the nation. What covenant is coming? What will salvation look like? Why will there be righteousness and praise in the nation? Jesus aids us in finding the answer to these questions when He quotes Isaiah in Luke 4:17-21, expressing how this prophecy has been fulfilled by His coming! Jesus’ quotation of this passage in Luke illuminates the fact that Isaiah was in fact prophesying about Jesus.
There is so much significance in this passage because of the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We hear that there will be transformation in this world, good news will be brought to the poor, Christ will bind broken hearts and He will set the captives free—just to name a few things listed in Isaiah’s writing. This prophecy regarding the birth of our Saviour demonstrates the changes that can occur in the nation of Israel, and also in the lives of all of those who live out the righteousness of God by faith in Christ*. In other words, salvation will be brought to all those who believe! Hallelujah!
Through actively reading and listening to Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I was able to uncover a deeper meaning behind the words that I was otherwise tempted to gloss over. Taking time to actively listen to, and therefore, to understand the text,
requires an effort that fosters a more vibrant understanding of Christ, thus enhancing my relationship with God. Jesus teaches us in Luke 4 that this prophecy is regarding Himself, the Son of God the saviour of the world. In this season of Advent are you actively listening to the words Isaiah shares? Are you seeking to understand the meaning behind His words?
- Egan, G. & Schroeder, W., (2009)
The Skilled Helper A Problem-Management and Opportunity Development Approach to Helping, First Canadian ed, Toronto, ON: Nelson Education LTD.
- Oswalt, J. N., (2003) The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Katrina Wilhelm first moved to Vancouver in August of 2015 from Ontario, in order for her husband Josh to pursue a master’s degree at Regent College. She has since fallen in love with this city and Redemption Church. She is passionate about all things food and nature, along with a special love for homemade French-Canadian cuisine and creation care. These passions most likely stem from her multicultural background; she is proud to consider herself French-Canadian, Italian, and Aboriginal. In her constant state of uncertainty about what she wants to be when she grows up, Katrina is content and enjoying her work as a nanny of three energetic girls in the Kitsilano neighbourhood.