1: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2: To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3: To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
These words were first penned by the prophet Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah chapter 61; Some seven hundred years later we find the same words recorded by Luke in Luke Chapter 4:18 as spoken by the Lord. The significance that I’m pointing to is that in the case of Isaiah these words were prophetic; they were a forecast of a proclamation that would be made at some future date. As to those to whom Isaiah was addressing; they had no clue that the prophecy offered to them would be more than seven hundred years in coming. They were not unlike us; when we hear of a coming event we start looking for it to happen sometimes in the near future. But it is as it has always been; God works by His own schedule. For those who are impatient and given to discouragement because God doesn’t work on their schedule, take heart because everything that God has spoken will one day come to pass.
Verse 1 says that the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek. Certainly, Jesus did exactly that. Mankind had wrestled with the status of his salvation from the time of Adam. He had inherited death through the actions of Adam; he had assumed the responsibility of laboring by the sweat of his brow in order to acquire his daily bread; he had contracted sickness and death and all kinds of misery from which there was no escape. He had tried futilely to overcome the sin problem that sucked him down into the abyss of a dark and miserable hell that awaited him at the end of his life. Fear must have been his constant companion; Hopelessness and helplessness must have hung over him like an unyielding yoke from which there was no rest. Recognizing this allows me to understand the extent of the comfort that is offered by Jesus’ words found in Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Someone here today may have fallen onto difficult times. You may have even asked, “Where is God while things are going badly in my life?” But rest assured God has not taken His eyes off of you for one second. He not only knows but He deeply cares about what happens with you. Not only has He promised you a glorious eternal life, but He has given you, and will continue to give you great blessings . I don’t think that God plays games with us; but I do think that sometimes He allows things to happen to us so that we can measure just how strong our commitment is to Him. Have you ever considered that the reason that sometimes serious problems enter our lives is to see how much it takes for us to doubt God. It’s easy to feel like we have a strong commitment to God when everything is going good. But when someone that we love is seriously ill or even dying do we get a little angry with God?
Job was a man who had everything materially that a man could want. He had accumulated much in terms of material goods. I have no doubt that he had worked hard to get where he was. The Bible said that not only was he blessed, but he did not lose sight of what he owed God. But the devil showed up one day and told God that he could cause Job to cures Him to his face. The devils rationale was that Job loved the things that God had given him more than he loved God. So he proceeded to take away all the possessions that Job had. He took away his possessions; then he took away his children; he took away his health and he caused his friends to accuse him of misdeeds that brought these things about that had happened to him. He did all these things to Job and gave everybody the impression that it was Gods doing. Jobs wife had even given up on God love for Job. In Job chapter 2: 9: Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. By this time how many of us would have become enraged with God and given Him a piece of our mind. I have no doubt that by now we would have proclaimed vociferously how unfair it was for God to not shield us from such great misfortune. And if Job had done that then the devil would have proven to God that he was right; that no matter how staunch a follower might be that there was a point where our commitment to God would fail. The devil was saying that the basis of our relationship with God is the things that God bless us with. Jobs response to his wife is an object lesson on how a Christian should respond to the negatives things that enter into all of our lives at some point. 2: 10: But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
When we learn that Gods relationship with us is not sporadic or intermittent then we can take the bad times in complete confidence that they will pass and our journey will proceed on toward eternity and the rewards that will be given to the faithful. (Rev.2: 10: Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Has the devil tested you with material things lately? Has he told you that you’re too busy to work in Gods kingdom? Perhaps he told you that it would be alright, someone else will do it. Has he told you that there is no real reason for you to come back to evening service; after all, you were there this morning and once on Sunday is all that God requires? Has he told you that there will always be enough people there to take up the slack and that they can do what you would have done if you had been there? Has he told you that someone else would be better at going out with personal evangelism team to conduct studies and save souls? Has he told you that giving as you purpose in your heart means that you give part of what you have to spare after you have spent your money on the things that you want but don’t necessarily need?
10: For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
11: I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
12: If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.
13: Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
14: Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Has he told you that one person doesn’t make a difference and your contributions to the cause of Christ has no impact on the outcome? Has he told you that you’re the one thinking all these things and that he is not behind any of it?
How much Job do you have in you when it comes to being faithful to the Lord no matter what the circumstance? The book of Job allows us to see in advance that the devil has a strategy designed to stop us from serving the Lord. The devil knows that if he can uncover a selfish, self-serving spirit in an individual that he has a means of controlling that person. Of course if he controls your life then you’re going to miss heaven. He can’t go, and he’s going to do all that he can to make sure that you don’t go either.
When Christ came to earth He had a purpose. That purpose was to deliver the good news that mankind now had a covenant that assured him of a home in heaven. There would be no need to doubt or fear the consequences of our sins if we obeyed his commandments and remained faithful to Him.