Saturday, November 19, 2005

Beauty for ashes: Is 61:2-3

“To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:2-3)
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Who are those who mourn in Zion? They are those who realize that, even though Israel was birthed with such potential, she fell way short of the glory that God had appointed to her. Israel was birthed by God and God blessed her with great promises. All that was required was that Israel abide by the covenant God established with her. Had they, Israel would have been the glory of the whole earth, yet they were unable to keep God’s commandments. Try as they might, they were unable, in their own strength, to keep the law of God and to fulfill their end of the covenant. In the end, Israel was sent into captivity and her land left to strangers. Instead of glory, she found humiliation. “Judah mourns and her gates languish; they sit on the ground in mourning, and the cry of Jerusalem has ascended.” (Jeremiah 14:2)

What about your own life? We each are born into this world full of potential and promise. We receive our life from God and we are formed in His image. As men and women, we have been created in His image; created to reflect His glory. Unfortunately, none of us ever live up to our full potential. Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We may try to encourage ourselves that at least we are better than some, but when compared to God, we fall far short. When faced with their own failures, some choose to simply ignore them, but for those who long to “be all they can be,” God has a plan. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want… I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good… Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:18-19, 21, 24-25) For all those who mourn over their sinfulness and their failure to live up to the glory of God, God has provided comfort, the hope of righteousness, and the power to become the person that God has made us to be.

Jesus did not come to simply release us of our sins, but to also release our hearts from mourning. When we come to Jesus we are immediately forgiven for our past, present, and future sins. Our forgiveness is instantaneous and complete, but the restoration of our soul takes time. We may not immediately be who we were meant to be, but neither are we who we used to be. While the process of sanctification is a process, we have hope and comfort in Jesus. We may not be perfect, but we will always be loved. The secret is to learn to draw near to God that we may receive of His comfort. Beating ourselves up over our sins is of no benefit. It is only by drawing close to Him and receiving His comfort that we will grow to become oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.

David Robison

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