Friday, September 23, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 25, 2016

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(GOD brings freedom, renewal, and blessings)
(Isaiah 61)

   In Isaiah 61, verses 1-2, we find the messianic prophecy that is read, in part, by JESUS, from the scroll in the synagogue at HIS hometown of Nazareth in Luke 4:18-19. After reading “the proclamation of the LORD’s favor”, however, JESUS rolled the scroll back up, and made no mention of “the day of vengeance of our LORD” (see Luke 4:17-21).
    This incident is very important as it is the first public announcement by JESUS, that HE is the long-awaited MESSIAH, WHO had been promised by the Old Testament prophets. This incident is also significant because it suggests two “comings”, or, two “advents” of CHRIST. The first advent of CHRIST would be “to offer salvation to all mankind”, and the second will be “to judge the righteous and the unrighteous”, and then to send the wicked into eternal damnation, and to “restore” the righteous into a position of honor.
    Also, when we take a closer look at this prophecy, we can see how it illustrates an unclear reference to time, as is the case with many prophecies that come from GOD. We now know, however, that the reference in verse 2 of the “time to save”, and the reference in this same verse of a “time to judge” are separated, quite literally, by thousands of years.
    This is a very typical occurrence when we try to interpret Old Testament prophecy, as they rarely leave us with any clear reference of a time link between two or more events. However, there is one thing that is crystal clear here in Isaiah 61:1, and that is, all three members of the TRINITY are mentioned, the SPIRIT, the LORD GOD, and the MESSIAH.
    In this verse, the MESSIAH is represented by the word “ME”. We know that the word “ME” is JESUS because HE tells us so HIMSELF in Luke 4:18-21 as HE read this passage from Isaiah to the people in the synagogue some 700 years later. When JESUS read this passage, HE stopped in the middle of the sentence (Isaiah 61:2), after the word “favor”. In doing so, JESUS is alluding to the fact that HIS work would be divided into two segments, or “advents”.
    In JESUS’ first advent, HE would fulfill only those things mentioned in Isaiah 61:1-2a. Then, in HIS “second coming”, HE will fulfill those things mentioned in Isaiah 61:2b-3. In HIS first advent HE was on a mission to “save”, and on HIS second advent HE will be on a mission to “judge” and “restore”.
    After GOD satisfies HIS anger against those who love wickedness, and who conspire against those who are seeking righteousness, HE will bring joy to all who formerly mourned because of their persecutions and oppressive treatment. These faithful followers of CHRIST will have their ashes of mourning replaced by joy, and they will praise GOD and forget about the despair that once dominated their existence. They will become like strong oak trees that are planted by the waters, and they will defer all glory to GOD in Heaven (v.3).
    In verses 4-9, when JESUS returns to establish HIS Millennial Kingdom, all of the ancient ruins of time gone by will be restored into viable, productive communities. Many Gentiles will be allowed to join GOD’s chosen people and become a viable part of the established kingdom of CHRIST, all working together and serving in whatever capacity that they are needed.
    As a “nation of priests” everyone will know the LORD and will have access to HIM. There won’t be anyone walking around in the kingdom of CHRIST, nor in Heaven, who doesn’t know GOD (v.6a). All will be fed from the fat of the land, which will be bountiful at all times. There will be no hunger, no shame, and no dishonor, and everyone will enjoy a “double portion” of prosperity and everlasting joy.
    The LORD loves “justice”, for it is one of the elements of HIS nature, and HE utterly despises robbery and wrongdoing. HE says in verse 8 that HE will faithfully reward the faithful for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them. Even the descendants of the righteous (those whom we have passed on a legacy of faith to) will be known and honored among all races of people on the earth. Everyone will recognize GOD’s people as people who are blessed (v.9).
    Isaiah himself was taken up with joy just to be able to pass on this prophecy to the masses of the good news he had received from GOD, and we see here in verse 10, he also takes this good news very personal, as he could hardly compose himself because of it. Here he says, “I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my GOD! For, HE has dressed me with the clothing of salvation, and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit, or a bride with her jewels” (NLT).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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