A DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTER ISAIAH 61:1-11: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn” (v1-2)

Can you see here what makes up a person’s character whereby it is said by their fruits we shall know them! Your mission on earth, what the Lord God created you to accomplish for humanity on earth spells out your character and the time His Majesty Lord Jesus Christ is manifesting the year of His favour unto His people is on the other hand the same year He is rendering the day of vengeance of our God to those who deserves it and to comfort all who mourn. For instance if you take the case of Ndi Igbo and their brethren who committed atrocity in their act of selling their brethren into slavery and received their recompense in the consequences of the Biafra civil war which raged and now they are in bondage which started since the end of the civil war and are currently being besieged by their enemies including saboteur children who oppress and deprive them of their dues in a country that flows with milk and honey; as their time of visitation approaches the Lord sends them a person who acts a saviour and a deliverer to them when the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God clocks to comfort all who have been in mourning. This is how the principle runs and operates! As we have been reflecting on what I have always described as the psychology of Lord Jesus, and the attitudes which make it possible for the soul to thrive, to grow strong and vigorous, to do well, to prosper, we come to the second of Lord Jesus’ sayings in the beatitude which says: “4Blessed and enviably happy [with a [a]happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!” as seen in Matthew 5:4 which is exactly the same with what prophet Isaiah hinted and said that the Messiah Lord Jesus will do when He comes and now that He has come, He Himself expanciated by teaching the people, those who will hear how according to Isaiah He comforts all who mourn by telling them that mourners happiness are produced by their experience of God’s favours that comes to them through God’s matchless grace which He uses to save them from all their sin caused troubles and challenges of life by His being merciful unto them and telling them that this gracious blessed and merciful intervention to save will always make those around who witness His gracious intervention to envy them. Before we look at this in detail, it is important to note two things: first that there is a very definite order in these sayings of our Lord Jesus, and second, that we should not see these beatitude utterances of the Lord Jesus as a code of ethics, but understand that these qualities as spelt out by the Lord Jesus in the beatitudes are found in those who have a personal relationship with Christ. When you have a strong holy and righteous personal relationship with Christ, any time you are confronted by trials, temptations, life threatening troubles and challenges of complex and diverse type and kind; Lord Jesus by His Christ intervenes to save you by making ways of escape for you being merciful. This is why you must make sure that you always feed the Christ content in your soul with the food of the spirit so that it will keep growing and waxing strong. Always know that Worldliness and Sinfulness poisons your Christ content and either pacify, dwarf or kill it, so be at alert always and conduct the way you live your life carefully which is why the Lord Jesus gave us His teachings in the beatitude for our guide. Lord Jesus does not present these Beatitudes in a random manner: every one of those beatitudes of the Lord Jesus, I believe was carefully and prayerfully thought through and given a precise place in the spiritual sequence of the growth of every true child of God. Once we are able to see that entrance into the kingdom of God it is through the acknowledgment of our spiritual poverty and that the acceptance of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ is by His merciful graciousness then we are ready to go on and consider the next beatitude. Again, let me stress here that the Beatitudes are not a set of regulations that must be followed in order to become a Christian –the New Testament equivalent of the Ten Commandments, No! The simple truth is that for us to try to produce these qualities of life that the Lord’s Beatitudes recommends in our lives through our own efforts is no easier than trying to live up to the Ten Commandments in our unaided strength. Just like the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes cannot be lived and practiced by any individual if Christ doesn’t help or assist you. Dr Martyr Lloyd-Jones put it well when he said: ‘We are not told, live like this and you will become a Christian, but rather, become a Christian and you will live like this.’ First we learn to know the Person of Lord Jesus Christ. Then, as we know Lord Jesus deeply and intimately, we will find these beatitude qualities appearing in our lives as naturally as a flower open up to the sun. All it requires is sincerity, honesty in your belief.

  What Are We Doing Here? Isaiah 61:1-11; Luke 4:16-21:

In this chapter, I. We are sure to find the grace of Christ, published by Himself to a lost world in the everlasting gospel, under the type and figure of Isaiah’s province, which was to foretell the deliverance of the Jews out of Babylon as seen in v. 1-3. II. We think we find and figure the glories of the church of Christ in this Jewish deliverance, its spiritual glories, described under the type and figure of the Jews’ prosperity after their return out of their captivity 1. It is promised that the decays of the church shall be repaired as seen in v. 4. That those from without shall be made serviceable to the church as seen in v. 5. That the church shall be a royal priesthood, maintained by the riches of the Gentiles as seen in v. 6. That she the Church shall have honour and joy in lieu of all her shame and sorrow as seen in v. 7. That her affairs shall prosper as seen in v. 8. That prosperity shall enjoy these blessings as seen in v.9. That righteousness and salvation shall be the eternal matter of the church’s rejoicing and thanksgiving as seen in v. 10, v. 11. If the Jewish church was ever thus blessed in honour and joy in place of her shame and sorrow, in prosperity with her decays repaired and made serviceable to humanity, much more shall the Christian church be so, and all that belong to it as she undergoes the revival the Lord will soon bring. Verses 1-3, He that is the best expositor of scripture has no doubt given us the best exposition of these verses, even our Lord Jesus Himself, who read this in the synagogue at Nazareth (perhaps it was the lesson for the day) and applied it entirely to Himself, saying, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your eyes and ears as seen in Luke. 4:17-18; 21 “17And there was handed to Him [the roll of] the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened (unrolled) the book and found the place where it was written”, “18The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]”, Lu. 4:21 “21And He began to speak to them: Today this Scripture has been fulfilled [b]while you are present and hearing”; and the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth, in the opening of this text, were admired by all that heard them. As Isaiah was authorized and directed to proclaim liberty to the Jews in Babylon, so was Christ Jesus, God’s messenger, to publish a more joyful jubilee to a lost world. And here we are told, I. How He was fitted and qualified for this work: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me as seen in v. 1. The prophets had the Spirit of God moving them at times, both instructing them what to say and exciting them to say it. Christ had the Spirit always resting on Him without measure; but to the same intent that the prophets had, as a Spirit of counsel and a Spirit of courage as seen in Isaiah 11:1-4 which reads, “1And there shall come forth a Shoot out of the stock of Jesse [David’s father], and a Branch out of his roots shall grow and bear fruit. 2And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord—3And shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears; 4But with righteousness and justice shall He judge the poor and decide with fairness for the meek, the poor, and the downtrodden of the earth; and He shall smite the earth and the oppressor with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”. When He entered upon the execution of His prophetical office the Spirit, as a dove, descended upon Him as seen in Mt. 3:16 “16And when Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him”. This Spirit which was upon Him He communicated to those whom He sent to proclaim the same glad tidings, saying to them, when He gave them their commission, Receive you the Holy Ghost, thereby ratifying it. All of the above mission He did accomplish in Person by His physical ministry with the Jews of Israel and today He is still accomplishing the same by His Holy Spirit as it is seen happening in the midst of Ndi Igbo and all their brethren in the New Nation of Nigeria. II. How He was appointed and ordained to it: The Spirit of God is upon me, because the Lord God has anointed me. What service God called Him to; He furnished Him for; therefore He gave Him His Spirit, because He had by a sacred and solemn unction set Him apart to this great office, as kings and priests were of old destined to their offices by anointing. Unction means anointing someone with oil or ointment as a religious rite. Hence the Redeemer was called the Messiah, the Christ, because He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. He has sent Me; our Lord Jesus did not go unsent; He had a commission from Him that is the fountain of power; the Father sent Him and gave Him commandment. This is a great satisfaction to us, that, whatever Christ said, He had a warrant an authority from heaven for; His doctrine was not His, but His that sent Him. This is why we should not be hypocrites who claims what we are not; always be sure you are sent by the Lord Jesus to do whatever you are doing for humanity otherwise it will cease! III. What the work was to which He was appointed and ordained. 1. He was to be a preacher, was to execute the office of a prophet. So well pleased was He with the good-will God showed towards men through Him that He would Himself be the preacher of it, that an honour might thereby be put upon the ministry of the gospel and the faith of the saints might be confirmed and encouraged. He must preach good tidings (so gospel signified) to the meek, to the penitent, and humble, and poor in spirit; to them the tidings of a Redeemer will be indeed good tidings, pure gospel, faithful sayings, and worthy of all acceptation. The poor are commonly best disposed to receive the gospel as seen in Jam. 2:5 “5Listen, my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and in their position as believers and to inherit the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him?”, and it is likely to profit us when it is received with meekness, as it ought to be; to such Christ preached good tidings when He said, Blessed are the meek. Today Lord Jesus by His Holy Spirit seek those He has truly anointed to preach to His people the people of this generation of the second coming as He preached to the Jews and to His disciples. 2. He was to be a healer. He was sent to bind up the broken-hearted, as pained limbs are rolled to give them ease, as broken bones and bleeding wounds are bound up, that they may knit and close again. Those whose hearts are broken for sin, who are truly humbled under the sense of their sin guilt and dread fear of God’s wrath, are furnished in the gospel of Christ with that which will make them easy of their sin-guilt and silence their fears. Those only who have experienced the pains of a penitential contrition borne out of their sin-guiltiness may expect the pleasure of divine cordials and consolations-experienced by the mournful. Today as you hear Him by His Holy Spirit surrender to Him so that He can heal you but you have to acknowledge your sin-guiltiness with a penitent heart and express your fear of Him as Saviour and Judge because you know His wrath against sin will surely come, because He Lord Jesus is the only One who can ease your sin-guiltiness with His merciful forgiveness and thus silent your fears with His gracious interventions for your sake. 3. He was to be a deliverer. He was sent as a prophet to preach, as a priest to heal, and as a king to issue out proclamations and those of two kinds:— (a.) Proclamations of peace to His friends: He shall proclaim liberty to the captives (as Cyrus did to the Jews in captivity) and the opening of the prison to those that were bound. Whereas, by the guilt of sin, we are bound over to the justice of God, are His lawful captives, sold for sin till payment be made of that great debt, Christ lets us know that He has made satisfaction to divine justice for that debt, that His satisfaction is accepted, and if we will plead that in His Name, and depend or believe upon it, and make over or surrender ourselves and all we have to Him Jesus Christ, in a grateful sense of the kindness He has done us, we may by faith sue out our pardon and take the comfort of it; there is, and shall be, no condemnation to us. And whereas, by the dominion of sin in us, we are bound under the power of Satan, sold under sin, Christ lets us know that He has conquered Satan, has destroyed him that had the power of death and his works, and provided for us grace sufficient to enable us to shake off the yoke or grip of sin in our life and to loose ourselves from those bands off our neck. The Son is ready by His Spirit to make us free; and then we shall be free indeed, not only discharged from the miseries of captivity, but advanced to all the immunities and dignities of citizens. This is the gospel proclamation, and it is like the blowing of the jubilee-trumpet, which proclaimed the great year of release as seen in Lev. 25:9 “9Then you shall sound abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month [almost October]; on the Day of Atonement blow the trumpet in all your land”, Lev. 25:40 “40But as a hired servant and as a temporary resident he shall be with you; he shall serve you till the Year of Jubilee”, in allusion to which it is here called the acceptable year of the Lord, the time of our acceptance with God, which is the origin of our liberties; or it is called the year of the Lord because it publishes His free grace, to His own glory, and an acceptable year because it brings glad tidings to us, and what cannot but be very acceptable to those who know the capacities and necessities of their own souls. Do you see that the Lord God always gives a people under siege or bondage a deliverer and their deliverance always starts or begin at an appointed time-seventh month the equivalent of our October. (b.) Proclamations of war against His enemies. Christ proclaims the day of vengeance of our God, the vengeance He takes, [a.] On sin and Satan, death and hell, and all the powers of darkness, that were to be destroyed in order for our deliverances; all of these Christ triumphed over in His cross, having spoiled and weakened them, shamed them, and made a show of them openly or publicly, therein taking vengeance on them for all the injury they had done both to God and man as seen in Col. 2:15 “15[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]”. [b.] On those of the children of men that stand it out against those fair offers; in other words those who rejects the gospel. They shall not only be left, as they deserve, in their captivity, but be dealt with as enemies; we have the gospel summed up as seen in Mk. 16:16 “16He who believes [who adheres to and trusts in and relies on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] and is baptized will be saved [[a]from the penalty of eternal death]; but he who does not believe [who does not adhere to and trust in and rely on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] will be condemned”, where that part of it, He that believes shall be saved, proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord to those that will accept of it; but the other part, He that believes not shall be damned, proclaims the day of vengeance of our God, that vengeance which He will take on those that obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ as seen in 2 Th. 1:8 “8To deal out retribution (chastisement and vengeance) upon those who do not know or perceive or become acquainted with God, and [upon those] who ignore and refuse to obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Are you seeing how all of these are playing out? Something very spectacular is happening in the world, a thing that is going to reshape the world again just as it happened during the first advent but many people are not getting it right, to them it is a Nigeria national issue not knowing that it is bigger than a mere national issue. This was how it all began during the time of the Jews, Babylon and all its allies took the Jews captive in Babylon and prophet Isaiah foretold how a Messiah shall come to deliver them but did not tell them that the deliverance will assume a world-view and so it is today; Britain and the rest of the other world nations have held the people of the Lord God in bondage in Nigeria; in captivity even in the midst of plenty and the Lord God sent deliverers the second of which is currently working especially as it has intensified since the seventh month which is our October 2020 and when it climaxed, it will eventually shake the whole world and at its end the whole world will not be the same again but we shall all pray so that its duration will be shortened by the Lord God Almighty. Hence the song: ala anyi nile ga eme nkpotu, osimiri nile ga ada n’ubochi ahu Jesus Onye nwayi ga abia n’ike di ebube...ka umu mmadu dikwa njikere! Are we ready, are we truly making preparation to witness this great eventful occasion that is about to come upon the world? 4. He was to be a comforter, and so He is as preacher, healer, and deliverer; He is sent to comfort all who mourn, and who, in their mourning, seek to Him Lord Jesus Christ, and not to the world, for comfort. Christ not only provides comfort for them, and proclaims it, but He applies it to them; He does by His Spirit comforting them. There is enough in Him Christ to comfort all who mourn, whatever their sore or sorrow is; but this comfort is sure to those who mourn in Zion, who sorrow after a godly sort, according to God, for His residence is in Zion,—who mourn because of Zion’s calamities and desolations, and mingle their tears by a holy sympathy with those of all God’s suffering people all over the world, though they themselves are not in trouble or they are in; such tears God has a bottle for as seen in Ps. 56:8 “8You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle—are they not in Your book?”, such mourners He has comfort in store for. As blessings out of Zion are spiritual blessings, so mourners in Zion are holy mourners, such as carry their sorrows to the throne of grace (for in Zion was the mercy-seat) and pour them out as Hannah did before the Lord. To such as these Christ has appointed by His gospel, and will give by His Spirit as seen in v. 3, those consolations which will not only support them under their sorrows, but turn them into songs of praise. He will give them, (1.) The Beauty for ashes. Whereas they lay in ashes, as was usual in times of great mourning, they shall not only be raised out of their dust or ashes, but made to look pleasant. Note, The holy cheerfulness of Christians is their beauty and a great ornament to their profession. Here is an elegant paronomasia (a play on words or pun) in the original: He will give them pheer—beauty, for epher—ashes; He will turn their sorrow into joy as quickly and as easily as you can transpose a letter; for He speaks, and it is done. (2.) The Oil of joy, which make the face to shine, instead of mourning, which disfigures the countenance and makes it unlovely. This oil of joy the saints have from that oil of gladness with which Christ Himself was anointed above His fellows as seen in Heb. 1:9 “9You have loved righteousness [You have delighted in integrity, virtue, and uprightness in purpose, thought, and action] and You have hated lawlessness (injustice and iniquity). Therefore God, [even] Your God (Godhead), has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions. [Ps. 45:6, 7.]”. (3.) The Garments of praise, such beautiful garments as were worn by the Lord’s people on thanksgiving-days, instead of the spirit of heaviness, dimness, or contraction —open joys for secret mornings. The spirit of heaviness they keep to themselves (Zion’s mourners weep in secret); but the joy they are recompensed with they are clothed with as with a garment in the eye of others. Observe, Where God gives the oil of joy He gives the garment of praise. Those comforts which come from God dispose the heart to, and enlarge the heart in, thanksgivings to God. Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise and glory of. 5. He was to be a planter; for the church is God’s husbandry. Therefore He will do all this for His people, will cure their wounds, release them out of bondage, and comfort them in their sorrows, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that they may be such and be acknowledged to be such, that they may be ornaments to God’s vineyard and may be fruitful in the fruits of righteousness, as the branches of God’s planting as seen in Isaiah 60:21 “21Your people also shall all be [uncompromisingly and consistently] righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified”. Do you hear that, you as God’s child ought to be uncompromisingly and consistently righteous, are you? All that Christ does for us is to make us God’s people, and some way serviceable to Him as living trees, planted in the house of the Lord, and flourishing in the courts of our God; and all this that He the Lord God may be glorified —that we may be brought to glorify Him by a sincere devotion and an exemplary conversation (for herein is our Father glorified, that we bring forth much fruit ), that others also may take occasion from God’s favour or mercy shining on His people, and His grace shining in them, to praise Him, and that He may be forever glorified in His saints.

  Verses 4-9,

Verses 4-9, Promises are here made to the Jews now returned out of captivity, and settled again in their own land, which are to be extended to the people of the gospel church, and all believers, who through grace are delivered out of spiritual thraldom; for they are capable of being spiritually applied. Thraldom means state of being in slavery or bondage to another person. I. It is promised that their houses shall be rebuilt as seen in v. 4, that their cities shall be raised out of the ruins in which they had long lain, and be fitted up for their use again: They shall build the old wastes; the old wastes shall be built, the waste cities shall be repaired, the former desolations, even the desolations of many generations, which it was feared would never be repaired, shall be raised up. The setting up of Christianity in the world repaired the decays of natural religion and raised up those desolations both of piety and honesty which had been for many generations the reproach of mankind. An unsanctified soul is like a city that is broken down and has no walls, like a house in ruins; but by the power of Christ’s gospel and His grace the human soul is repaired, the soul is put in order again from its disorderliness due to sin, and fitted to be a habitation of the Lord God through His Spirit. And they shall do this, those that are released out of captivity; for we are brought out of the house of bondage that we may serve God, both in building up ourselves spirit, body and soul to His glory and in helping to build up His church on earth. Do you hear that God requires us to serve Him once He delivers us from bondage with a sanctified soul? II. Those that were so lately servants themselves, working for their oppressors and lying at their mercy, shall now have servants to do their work for them and be at their command, not of their brethren (they are all the Lord’s freemen), but of the strangers, and the sons of the alien, who shall keep their sheep, till their ground, and dress their gardens, the ancient employments of Abel, Cain, and Adam: Strangers shall feed your flocks as seen in v. 5. When, by the grace of God, we attain to a holy indifference or lack of interest as to all the affairs of this world, buying as though we possessed not —when, though our hands are employed about them, our hearts are not entangled with them, but reserved entire for God and His service—then the sons of the alien are our ploughmen and vine-dressers. III. They shall not only be released out of their captivity, but highly preferred and honourably employed as seen in v. 6: "6While the strangers are keeping your flocks, you shall be keeping the charge of the sanctuary; instead of being slaves to your task-masters, you shall be named the priests of the Lord, a high and holy calling.’’ Or “6But you shall be called the priests of the Lord; people will speak of you as the ministers of our God. You shall eat the wealth of the nations, and the glory [once that of your captors] shall be yours.” Do you now see why the whole world is convulsing with coveters trying to possess what does not belong to them? First the nations that know not God trying to take over and run a world that belongs to the Lord God Almighty and secondly this non-God fearing people are oppressively trying to take over God’s people’s land and resources subjecting the rightful God’s people into slavery and oppression. Thanks to the Lord God Almighty who sure knows how to right all wrongs and restore His people back to glory making a people who were once captors masters and ministers in place of their captors. Priests were princes’ peers, and in Hebrew were called by the same name. You shall be the ministers of our God, as the Levites were. Note, Those whom God sets at liberty He sets to work; He delivers them out of the hands of their enemies that they may serve Him as seen in Lu. 1:74 “74To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our foes, might serve Him fearlessly”, Lu. 1:75 “75In holiness (divine consecration) and righteousness [in accordance with the everlasting principles of right] within His presence all the days of our lives”; Ps. 116:16 “16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds”. But His service is perfect freedom, nay, it is the greatest honour. When God brought Israel out of Egypt He took them to be to Him a kingdom of priests as seen in Ex. 19:6 “6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation [consecrated, set apart to the worship of God]. These are the words you shall speak to the Israelites”. And the gospel church is a royal priesthood as seen in 1 Pt. 2:9 “9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own [a]purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. I hope that as we are reading and hearing these words of God that you are comparing and relating them to what is happening in our nation and even in the whole world today? All believers are made to our God kings and priests; and they ought to conduct themselves as such in their devotions and in their whole conversation, with holiness to the Lord written upon their foreheads, that men may call them the priests of the Lord. Notice the word...Who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light! IV. The wealth and honour of the Gentile converts shall redound to the benefit and credit of the church as seen in v. 6. The Gentiles shall be brought into the church. Those that were strangers shall become fellow-citizens with the saints; and with themselves they shall bring all they have, to be devoted to the glory of God and used in His service; and the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall have the advantage of it. It will be a great strengthening and quickening, as well as a comfort and encouragement, to all good Christians, to see the Gentiles serving the interests of God’s kingdom. They shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, not which they have themselves seized by violence, but which are fairly and honourably presented to them, as gifts brought to the altar, which the priests and their families lived comfortably upon. It is not said, "You shall hoard the riches of the Gentiles, and treasure them,’’ but, "You shall eat them;’’ for there is nothing better in riches than to use them and to do good with them. 1. They shall boast themselves in their glory. Whatever was the honour of the Gentiles converts before their conversion—their nobility, estates, learning, virtue, or places of trust and power—it shall all turn to the reputation of the church to which they have joined themselves; and whatever is their glory after their conversion—their holy zeal and strictness of conversation, their usefulness, their patient suffering, and all the displays of that blessed change which divine grace has made in them—shall be very much for the glory of God and therefore all good men shall glory in it. V. They shall have abundance of comfort and satisfaction in their own bosoms as seen in v. 7. The Jews no doubt were thus privileged after their return; they were in a new world, and now knew how to value their liberty and property, the pleasures of which were continually fresh and blooming. Much more do all those who rejoice whom Christ has brought into the glorious liberty of God’s children, especially when the privileges of their adoption shall be completed in the resurrection of the body. They shall rejoice in their portion; they shall not only have their own again, but (which is a further gift of God) they shall have the comfort of it, and a heart to rejoice in it as seen in Eccl. 3:13 “13And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God”. Though the houses of the returned Jews, as well as their temple, be much inferior to what they were before the captivity, yet they shall be well pleased with them and thankful for them. It is a portion in their land, their own land, the holy land, Immanuel’s land, and therefore they shall rejoice in it, having so lately known what it was to be a stranger in a strange land. Those that have God and heaven for their portion have reason to say that they have a worthy portion and to rejoice in it. 2. Everlasting joy shall be unto them, that is, a joyful state of their people, which shall last long, much longer than the captivity had lasted. Yet that figure of physical joy of the Jewish nation was so much allayed or put at rest, so often interrupted, and so soon brought to an end, makes it that for believers to have their true joy they we must look for the accomplishment of this divine promise in the spiritual joy which believers have in God and the eternal joy they hope for in heaven. 3. This shall be a double recompense to them, and more than double, for all the reproach and vexation they have lain under in the land of their captivity: "For your shame you shall have double honour, and in your land you shall possess double wealth, to what you lost; the blessing of God upon it, and the comfort you shall have in it, shall make an abundant reparation for all the damages and losses you have received. You shall be owned not only as God’s sons, but as His first-born as seen in Ex. 4:22 “22Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;”), and therefore entitled to a double portion.’’ As the miseries of their captivity were so great that in them they are said to have received double for all their sins as seen in Isaiah 40:2 “2Speak tenderly to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry to her that her time of service and her warfare are ended, that [her punishment is accepted and] her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received [punishment] from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins”, so the joys of their return shall be so great that in them they shall receive double for all their shame. The former is applicable to the fullness of Christ’s satisfaction, in which God received double for all our sins; the latter to the fullness of heaven’s joys, in which we shall receive more than double for all our services and sufferings. Job’s case illustrates this: when God turned again his captivity, He gave him twice as much as he had before. VI. God will be their faithful guide and a God in covenant with them as seen in v. 8: I will direct their work in truth. God by His providence will order their affairs for the best, according to the word of His truth. He will guide them in the ways of true prosperity, by the rules of true policy. He will by His grace direct the works of good people in the right way, the true way that leads to true happiness; He will direct them to be done in sincerity and then they are pleasing to Him. God desires truth in the inward parts; and, if we do our works in truth, He will make an everlasting covenant with us; for to those that walk before Him and are upright He will certainly be a God all-sufficient. Now, as a reason both of this and of the foregoing promise, that God will recompense to them double for their shame, those words come in, in the former part of the verse, I the Lord love judgment. He loves that judgment should be done among men, both between magistrates and subjects and between neighbour and neighbour, and therefore He hates all injustice; and, when wrongs are done to His people by their oppressors and persecutors, He is displeased with them, not only because they are done to His people, but because they are wrongs, and against the eternal rules of equity. If men do not do justice, He loves to do judgment Himself in giving redress to those that suffer wrong and punishing those that do wrong. God pleads His people’s injured cause, not only because He is jealous for them, but because He is jealous for justice. To illustrate this, it is added that He hates robbery for burnt-offering. He hates injustice even in His own people, who honour Him with what they have in their burnt-offerings, much more does He hate it when it is against His own people; if He hates robbery when it is for burnt-offerings to Himself, how much more when it is for burnt-offerings to idols, and when not only His people are robbed of their estates, but He is robbed of His offerings. It is a truth much to the honour of God that ritual services will never atone for the violation of moral precepts, nor will it justify any man’s robbery to say, "It was for burnt-offerings,’’ or Corban—It is a gift. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to do justly and love mercy better than thousands of rams; nay, that robbery is most of all hateful to God which is covered with this pretence, for it makes the righteous God to be the patron of unrighteousness. Some make this a reason of the rejection of the Jews upon the bringing in of the Gentiles as seen in v.6, because they were so corrupt in their morals, and, while they tithed mint and cummin, made nothing of judgment and mercy as seen in Mt. 23:23 “23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you give a tenth of your mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected and omitted the weightier (more important) matters of the Law—right and justice and mercy and fidelity. These you ought [particularly] to have done, without neglecting the others”, whereas God loves judgment and insists upon that, and He hates both robbery for burnt offerings and burnt-offerings for robbery too, as that of the Pharisees, who made long prayers that they might the more plausibly devour widows’ houses. Others read these words thus: I hate rapine by iniquity, that is, the spoil which the enemies of God’s people had unjustly made of them; God hated this, and therefore would reckon with them for it. VII. God will entail a blessing upon their posterity after them as seen in v. 9: Their seed (the children of those persons themselves that are now the blessed of the Lord, or their successors in profession, the church’s seed) shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation as seen in Ps. 22:30 “30Posterity shall serve Him; they shall tell of the Lord to the next generation”. 1. They shall signalize themselves and make their neighbours to take notice of them: They shall be known among the Gentiles, shall distinguish themselves by the gravity, seriousness, humility, and cheerfulness of their conversation, especially by that brotherly love by which all men shall know them to be Christ’s disciples. And, they thus distinguishing themselves, God shall dignify them, by making them the blessings of their age and instruments of His glory, and by giving them remarkable tokens of His favour, which shall make them eminent and gain them respect from all about them. Let the children of godly parents love in such a manner that they may be known to be such, that all who observe them may see in them the fruits of a good education, and an answer to the prayers that were put up for them; and then they may expect that God will make them known, by the fulfilling of that promise to them, that the generation of the upright shall be blessed. 2. God shall have the glory of this, for every one shall attribute it to the blessing of God; all that see them shall see so much of the grace of God in them, and His favour towards them, that they shall acknowledge them to be the seed which the Lord has blessed and doth bless, for it includes both. See what it is to be blessed of God. Whatever good appears in any it must be taken notice of as the fruit of God’s blessing and He must be glorified in it.

  Verses 10-11,

Verses 10-11, Some make this the song of joy and praise to be sung by the prophet in the name of Jerusalem, congratulating her on the happy change of her circumstances in the accomplishment of the foregoing promises; others make it to be spoken by Christ in the name of the New-Testament church triumphing in gospel grace. We may take in both, the former as a type of the latter. We are here taught to rejoice with holy joy, to God’s honour, 1. In the beginning of this good work, the clothing of the church with righteousness and salvation as seen in v. 10. Upon this account I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. Those that rejoice in God have cause to rejoice greatly, and we need not fear running into an extreme in the greatness of our joy when we make God the gladness of our joy. The first gospel song begins like this, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour as seen in Lu. 1:46 “46And Mary said, My soul magnifies and extols the Lord”, and in Lu. 1:47 “47And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. There is just matter for this joy, and all the reason in the world why it should terminate in God; for salvation and righteousness are wrought out and brought in, and the church is clothed with them. The salvation God wrought for the Jews, and that righteousness of His in which He appeared for them, and that reformation which appeared among them, made them look as glorious in the eyes of all wise men as if they had been clothed in robes of state or nuptial garments. Christ has clothed His church with an eternal salvation (and that is truly great) by clothing it with the righteousness both of justification and sanctification. The clean linen is the righteousness of saints as seen in Rev. 19:8 “8She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people)”. Observe how these tows are put together; those, and those only, shall be clothed with the garments of salvation hereafter that are covered with the robe of righteousness now: and those garments are rich and splendid clothing, like the priestly garments (for so the word signifies) with which the bridegroom decks himself. The brightness of the sun itself is compared to them as seen in Ps. 19:5 “5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; and it rejoices as a strong man to run his course”, He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, completely dressed. Such is the beauty of God’s grace in those that are clothed with the robe of righteousness, that by the righteousness of Christ are recommended to God’s favour and by the sanctification of the Spirit have God’s image renewed upon them; they are decked as a bride to be espoused to God, and taken into covenant with Him; they are decked as a priest to be employed for God, and taken into communion with Him. Do you see how these attributes and qualities that God requires from His people relate with one another? We have holiness and righteousness; and righteousness in turn divides into justification and sanctification all addressing the quality of body, spirit and soul that God wants to see in the life of His people. 2. In the progress and continuance of this good work as seen in v.11. It is not like a day of triumph, which is glorious for the present, but is soon over. No; the righteousness and salvation with which the church is clothed with durable clothing; so they are said to be as seen in Isaiah 23:18 “18But her gain and her hire [the profits of Tyre’s new prosperity] will be [b]dedicated to the Lord [eventually]; it will not be treasured or stored up, for her gain will be used for those who dwell in the presence of the Lord [the ministers], that they may eat sufficiently and have durable and stately clothing [suitable for those who minister at God’s altar]”. The church, when she is pleasing herself with the righteousness and salvation that Jesus Christ has clothed her with, rejoices to think that these inestimable blessings shall both spring for future ages and spread to distant regions. (1.) They shall spring forth for ages to come, as the fruits of the earth which are produced every year, from generation to generation. As the earth, even that which lies common, brings forth her bud, the tender grass at the return of the year, and as the garden enclosed causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth in their season, so duly, so constantly, so powerfully, and with such advantage to mankind will the Lord God cause righteousness and praise to spring forth, by virtue of the covenant of grace, as, in the former case, by virtue of the covenant of providence. See what the promised blessings are—righteousness and praise (for those that are clothed with righteousness show forth the praises of Him that clothed them); these shall spring forth under the influence of the dew of divine grace. Though it may sometimes be winter with the church, when those blessings seem to wither and do not appear, yet the root of them is fixed, a spring-time will come, when through the reviving beams of the approaching Sun of righteousness they shall flourish again. (2.) They shall spread far, and spring forth before all the nations; the great salvation shall be published and proclaimed to all the world and the ends of the earth shall see it. Let us now read Isaiah 61:1-11, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. 4And they shall rebuild the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former desolations and renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 5Aliens shall stand [ready] and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. 6But you shall be called the priests of the Lord; people will speak of you as the ministers of our God. You shall eat the wealth of the nations, and the glory [once that of your captors] shall be yours. 7Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs. 8For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong with violence or a burnt offering. And I will faithfully give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant or league with them. 9And their offspring shall be known among the nations and their descendants among the peoples. All who see them [in their prosperity] will recognize and acknowledge that they are the people whom the Lord has blessed. 10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11For as [surely as] the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring forth, so [surely] the Lord God will cause rightness and justice and praise to spring forth before all the nations [through the self-fulfilling power of His word].

  Introduction:

Do you see how prophet Isaiah presented this passage and it is as everlasting as its Author God is everlasting, applying to all ages and generations of God’s people with similar situations and circumstances irrespective of where they are in the face of the globe. Preaching of the Gospel is essential here as it is peculiar to the people’s situation and it has to be preached to the meek, the poor and the afflicted-which is why the Lord God qualified and is anointed and sent for to bind up and heal the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to captives and opening of prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favour] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort those who mourn. Now tell me, are the eyes of Nigerians not opened today to see how besieged, hopeless, and impoverished they are in a land, their land that flows with numberless resources making it very clear that we are in bondage. God raised up one to enlighten His people and that enlightenment has opened their eyes. Here we are, in church, at the beginning of another week, and at the near beginning of another year. What are we doing here? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why do you come to church every Sunday? Why do you sing the songs, or choose not to sing? Why do you put money in the offering plate, or choose not to? Why do you take the elements of communion when they are served, or not? What are you doing here? For those with us through our web site, why are you connected to our web site? Why do you tune in to a worship service sermon on web site while sitting in your room at home? I’ve asked myself these questions once in a while. Why do I stand up here on Sunday morning and preach a sermon week after week? Why do I come here to read verses of the Bible and pray for a group of people each week? What am I doing here? What are we doing here? Do we come to worship to make ourselves feel good, earn a few brownie points with God, and let others see that we are good, Christian people? Do we come to worship to praise God for some hours, listen to His Word and hope the minister has a decent sermon that makes me feel good, or one that is a bit challenging? Then, maybe, we can remember something of what he said if someone asks us on Tuesday what the sermon was about. Are we here so that we get some help to get by in the world, to survive another week? It’s a bit like a fuel stop; we’re here for a weekly fill-up. Or like a stop at our favourite coffee shop; we’re here for a bit of a jolt or a boost. So, about now you might be thinking: enough questions already. Maybe you are expecting me to give you the answer to all those questions. Or, at about this point in the sermon, you figure that this is where I’m going to tell you why you are here, or why you should be here, or what the “right answer” is to the questions. But that’s one thing I have figured out about why I am here. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m not here to tell you how to think. I’m here to help us look together at God’s longing for a world as it could/should be. I’m here to help us understand God’s intention for our lives and for our world. From what I read in the Bible, I am convinced that we do not come here, first of all, for our own benefit. One reason that we are gathered in worship is to be invited to honour/glorify God and we do that when we love and pursue the things God loves and pursues. Those things God loves and pursue include justice and gracious mercy. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son begotten. The gospel is the story of salvation, forgiveness, and a restored relationship with God. But this is not just for individuals; it’s not just about ‘God and me.’ God so loved the world. God’s desire is to restore and heal brokenness for all people, including the family in line at the Food Bank, the teen afraid to go to school because of bullies and covid-19, the trans-gender adult facing rejection. The gospel is about more than saving souls to get people to heaven. It’s about bringing God’s love and healing to a broken world. It’s also about justice and mercy. Are things justly carried out in the world today? Lord Jesus said this as He answered the question of why He was here on earth during His first sermon in His hometown of Nazareth. As an honoured guest at the synagogue worship on that particular Sabbath, He was invited to read from the scroll, the Bible. Whether it was the assigned passage for the day, or a passage He chose, we don’t know for sure. We know that He read the words of Isaiah 61, saying “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn”. Do you see that Lord Jesus told the people of His time why He is there! When He sat down, as was the custom for the rabbi when He would move from reading to teaching, Lord Jesus proclaimed this prophecy to be fulfilled. These words were a statement of why Lord Jesus was here. This is why I have to start with a question asking you all here seated if you have ever asked yourself why you are here in church. Lord Jesus was here to make things right in the world. Lord Jesus was here to challenge injustice for the poor, for prisoners to be set free, the blind and the oppressed to have enlightenment that will open their eyes to true knowledge and wisdom on how to set themselves free. Lord Jesus was here to live out or demonstrate God’s desire for things being just and right. God loves justice. God has a heart for justice. God is devoted to justice. And by justice, we’re not just talking about the stuff that happens in a court room, where a wrongdoer gets the punishment they deserve. The justice to which God is devoted is much bigger than court room justice. In Isaiah 61, we also hear the word “righteousness,” which is often used along with justice. This gives the idea that justice is right living, doing the right thing, going the right way. The picture we saw during Advent from Isaiah 11, and the picture in Isaiah 61 is a picture of shalom-peace, an overarching peace in creation and relationships. Today do we have peace in creation, do we have peace in relationship? The answer is No! So we see that why the Lord is here is the picture of restoring what is broken, of challenging that which does the breaking, of bringing healing to those who are hurt. Today in our nation, are we living right, are we doing things right? Lord Jesus, in quoting Isaiah 61, refers to “the year of the Lord’s favour.” This is often understood as referring to the Year of Jubilee, the 50th year, after 7 sabbath years. (Every 7 years was a sabbath, after the 7th sabbath or year 49, there was the Year of Jubilee, the 50th year.) This was a year of rest for the land, a year for forgiving debts, a year to freeing slaves, a year to restoring relationships. This is what Isaiah is talking about. The poor whose lives have for so long been filled with nothing but bad news get the gift of good news when Lord Jesus arrived the scene of humanity. Those long held captive in dungeons and prisons of all kinds get their promised freedom. Those who for years have spent so many days dampening handkerchiefs with their tears get comforted and pointed toward a day of smiles and laughter. Ashes on their body due to mourning get blown away to make way for the joy of glittering crowns on their head. The drab clothing of mourning get replaced with festive and colourful garments fit for a really great party. Drab means lacking brightness or interest or dull in appearance. People who for too long have felt like useless, and unsuccessful in their ventures who are dead sticks are promised that they will soon stand as tall and sturdy as the grandest oak tree due to successes and victories that will come at last when they do not expect it. This is more than just using the words of Isaiah 61 or Luke 4 to simply urge us to volunteer for a day, or to give more money to the budget or a particular cause, or to sign a petition. God’s call on us means combining His command to do justice and love mercy with a whole life of spiritual depth and integrity. This is more than spending an hour or so in a worship service once a week, and another hour in Bible study. God’s desire for justice is lived out beyond the walls of this building called church, in everything we do. Justice is not just some new action to get involved in once in a while. After all, we’re too busy to do one more thing. Where would we ever fit that into our busy schedule? In fact, justice is about aligning what we do already with the values of God’s rule, God’s intention for creation and relationships. Think about it this way: after we wake up in the morning, how many decisions do we make? We decide what clothes to wear, what food to eat, whether to make a coffee or buy one on the way to work or school, how to treat our friends, family, and strangers, what to pray for, where to invest our money in, and so on. Do you mingle or interwoven God’s justice with each one of these decisions? Biblical justice isn’t an action once a year, or something new for a new year. God’s justice is a lifestyle, an attitude. Everyday actions are infused with God’s revelation and intention for justice, with God’s desire for the world to be a place where all is just and right. We are called to live justly and rightly too. Hearing the words of Isaiah 61, and hearing them quoted by Lord Jesus as defining His purpose or mission for coming to earth which is His Church, and from Lord Jesus example we come to see that the reason we are here on earth and in church is much larger than to simply satisfy our needs and desires. It’s much more than trying to get more bodies or membership in our church pews. It’s much more than singing some songs and saying some prayers once a week. It’s about welcoming and embracing the stranger and the needy, not just so she will become a member of our church, but out of regard for who she is and her need for hospitality. It’s not about whether or not we sing enough of my favourite songs. It’s about considering how the marginalized in society is given a legitimate place. It’s about living and celebrating God’s work of renewal of creation and people’s life. It’s about understanding more of God’s vision for a world where we strive for making things right. What are we doing here as we celebrate divine communion? Do we come to the table to get a nourishment of our own faith, so we know that all is well between us and God? Do we come to the table, recognizing the body of Christ in the fellowship of believers? Do we come to the table, recognizing and remembering the story of broken bread and a cup as pointing to the sacrifice of Lord Jesus, so that all people can be restored in their relationship with God, not just for me? But for God so loved the world. When we come to the table, do we hunger and thirst for others to join us? For others to know the story of Lord Jesus? For others to know the healing-power of Lord Jesus relationship of grace? Does our participation at the table inspire us and send us out to live this forgiveness, this healing, this invitation to our neighbours and co-workers? The justice and right living of Isaiah 61, of Lord Jesus’ ministry, is not something limited to an hour on Sunday morning. It’s every day, all around us. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be looking at some specific areas of living God’s justice. We’ll look at our involvement in the structure of society, in our choices as consumers, in our generosity and relationships. Now ask yourself the question again, “What am I doing here?” How far-reaching is your answer, beyond yourself? Where does justice fit into your answer? Is justice in its right place in your answer? Ask yourself another question: What is going on in our community or in the world that makes you want to say, “Enough already. It’s not right.” Just as everybody is saying in our nation today enough is enough, things are not right! How does all that align with God’s desire for justice and right living? How can your time in worship encourage and inspire a life of just action? Does the sermon message inspire you to start doing things right and justly too? Will doing things right and justly begin with you? As you ask these questions; Let God’s Word and Spirit lead you to answers it rightly. To God be the glory! Amen.
Father Lord, I am so thankful to know from Your Word that the Christian life is not my responsibility, but my response to Your ability. Help me Lord Jesus by giving me Your ability to always respond rightly and adequately to all that a true Christian life requires. Please Lord live out Your life through me in my daily walk and my daily talk in all my relationship and in the society so that Your desire for justice and right living be realized. In Your name Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!