Isaiah 61 Clothed With The Garments Of Salvation.
The beginning lines of this chapter were of course quoted by Jesus at the inauguration of his advent ministry (vv. 1-2a Cf. Lk. 4:18-19). This was the anointing which Jesus received as a Trinitarian act (Cf. 42:7; Ps. 45:7; Mt. 3:17; Jn. 1:32, 3:34). The good news was indeed preached to the poor, the brokenhearted healed, liberty proclaimed to the captives, and the prison was opened for those bound. These are all symbols of the full redemption which has come via the Messiah (Cf. 57:18; Ps. 147:3; Jer. 31:13; Mt. 5:1-12; 11:5; Lk. 7:22). “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins”(Acts 10:43). It is important to remember that he quoted this at beginning of his ministry.
It would not be until he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, to assume the Messianic reign of the kingdom of God, that what follows his quotation in the synagogue would then take place – namely, “the day of vengeance of our God” (v. 2b Cf. Mal. 4). This is ultimately what occurred with the destruction of the temple and its services in 70 AD – a judgment on apostasy, but also an end of the old with the inauguration of the new (Cf. II Th. 1:7). This vengeance is part of the dual action of this period in salvation-history – the proclamation of the acceptable year of the LORD of the covenant (v. 2a). ‘The acceptable year of the LORD’ has a clear place in the covenant, and in particular, ‘the Day of Atonement’ (Lev. 25:9).
However, ‘The day of vengeance’ also has a clear history within the covenant relationship, as the judgment of the curses for rebellion, the other side of the coin, so to speak. Recompense would come “for the cause of Zion,” Isaiah’s remnant, while simultaneously being vengeance upon the apostate nation (34:8). “For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come” (63:4). This is but one of many examples that the biblical theology of the latter part of Isaiah is the same as the earlier –that there is one author alone. As time went on, the apostate leadership of Israel, would soon come to realize that the vengeance spoken of was directed at them, even as the redeemed remnant would also include the Gentiles.
So, there is a remnant of Zion who mourn, but in a great reversal will be comforted and consoled, and given “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (vv. 2c-3). This reiterates 60:21, where the branch is planted, or the work of His hands, so that they “shall all be righteous,” inherit the land, and thus glorify the LORD. The sackcloth of mourning for one’s sin, is subject to a great exchange, so that because of forgiveness his people shall be clothed with gladness (Cf. Pss. 11:7; 30:11). Only these members of the covenant are the ones who bear fruit (Cf. Jer. 17:7-8).
Who can deny that this found and continues to find, fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, by his own declaration no less. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (Jn. 15:8 Cf. 8:31). This passage, and many others like it, support the learned product of the Westminster Divines in that first question and answer of the Catechisms. “Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man? Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever” (WLC). It is this remnant who would rebuild, raise up, and repair (v. 4). Restoration of the whole earth would come via covenant (49:8). In this sense they would indeed bear the name of the Servant of the LORD.
“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (58:12). We must all understand that the forgiveness is not an end in itself, rather we are redeemed that we might rebuild a truly just society. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt’” (Ezek. 36:33). Not to take away from the literal rebuilding, it can hardly be denied that the LORD had a much larger plan in view. The day of restoration began with Christ’s advent, Peter making the point in his quote from Amos (Acts 15:16-18).
We must note that Luke in his account does not say ‘land’, but rather with the dawn of the new covenant the land becomes the whole earth (Cf. Amos 9:11-15; Eph. 2:12). This restoration of the whole of creation, will include strangers and foreigners – the Gentile nations of the earth (v. 5 Cf. 60:5, 11). There would be a new culture, including a new agriculture. All the riches shall come into the new people of God, the remnant from all nations who “shall be named the priests of the LORD,” all shall be called “the servants of our God” (v. 6 Cf. Ex. 19:6; I Pet. 2:9). Shame will be exchanged with double honour – confusion with a rejoicing in the portion of providence. “Everlasting joy shall be theirs” (v. 7).
Blessing is double the loss (Cf. 40:2). Such is what comes to the “prisoners of hope…because of the blood of your covenant” (Zech. 9:11-12). This new covenant is described by Isaiah as “an everlasting covenant” (v. 8 Cf. 55:3; Gen. 17:7; Ps. 105:10; Jer. 32:40). It includes truth, justice, and contra robbery in matters religious (Cf. 1:10-20). Jew and Gentile would be blessed, including their descendants, and their children’s children (v. 9 Cf. 65:23). There will be joy and rejoicing at being clothed with the garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness, and decked with ornaments and jewels (v. 10 Cf. Ps. 132:9, 16; Hab. 3:18), the people themselves (Cf. 49:18; Rev. 21:2)! This righteousness is completely due to the LORD’s own planting (v. 11 Cf. 60:18; 62:7; Pss. 72:3; 85:11;).