In the first half of his book of prophecy, Isaiah pronounced judgment against the Israelites who had turned against God, turned to idols, and taken up the sins of the wicked cultures around them. But in the second half, the prophet proclaimed a message of hope: if they would turn to the Lord, He would forgive them and bless them again. Here in chapter 61, Isaiah uses several beautiful images of salvation to paint a picture of what it could be like for his people if they were to truly repent and get right with God.
We must understand this prophecy on two levels: the immediate application to the nation of Israel in Isaiah’s time, and the far-reaching application to every person of every nation whom the Messiah would come to save. In the 8th Century B.C. God was extending grace to the Israelites. Seven hundred years later Jesus Christ stood in His hometown synagogue, read this chapter from the scroll of Isaiah, and announced, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (see Luke 4:16-21). Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah who fulfilled the prophecy! I do not know if Isaiah knew he was talking about the Messiah. But I do know that the promised salvation of this chapter is mine to claim in Christ (pardon all the exclamation points, but I get pretty excited thinking about this!):
Verse 1 — Jesus brought the good news of salvation to my bankrupt soul! He came into my life and healed my sin-broken heart! He released me from the domination of Satan that enslaved me! He set me free from the prison of sin!
Verse 3 — Jesus changed my gloominess to gladness! He gave me a reason to rejoice! He exchanged the bad news for good news! He replaced the ugliness of my past for a beautiful life with Him!
Verse 6 — Jesus invites me to join Him in His work of redemption! He gives me a ministry to perform and opportunities to serve others!
Verse 10 — Jesus removed the filthy rags of my sin and my shabby attempt to cover my guilt, and wrapped me up in His robe of righteousness!