How can our hearts not be captivated by Isaiah 61:1-2!
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…”
Jesus identified Himself with this prophecy in Luke 4 when He was rejected in Nazareth. I find the context of Jesus’ personal identification with Isaiah 61 deeply instructive. He was being rejected. God’s favor always begins the same way for us all…a declaration of faith that defies our present circumstances…beginning first as a message long before becoming our moment. Preached and proclaimed at inception, carried forward in faith, and realized only after a divine time of waiting. Hold fast, your year of the Lord’s favor draweth nigh!
Isaiah 61 holds for us further truth still. I believe that there is a progression revealed to us in the text as well, a progression that God wants us to understand that often defines one’s journey into the imprisonment of despair.
Verse one begins with good news being preached to the poor. This is not talking just about material lack but rather lack of any kind. Poor here is addressing the state of any of our lives when we have great need, need that is beyond our own ability to remedy, need that necessitates divine intervention. Poverty at its very essence is inescapable. Isaiah is not speaking to inconvenience, diminished levels of comfort, or lacking degrees of luxury. We are all at times in our lives poor, immersed in circumstances that are insurmountable. Jesus comes to us in such moments with a message…the year of the Lord’s favor draweth nigh!
If we do not allow His message, a seed of faith, to begin to germinate in our hearts a germination that ultimately bears the fruit of being able to see beyond our circumstances and trust in the divine intervention that surely comes (Romans 5:3-5), we move beyond poverty and become broken hearted. Poverty speaks to the nature of our situation, defining our lack. If in our poverty we have little hope of rescue, that which was external becomes internal…poverty progresses into broken heartedness. A broken heart begins to nurture sentiments like, “maybe there is no rescue for me…no hope for me…no favor me…no provision…” But if we regress to this place, He does not forsake us! He comes again with a message! He will bind up our broken heart. Careful, the binding up of the broken heart is not changing our circumstance, not eliminating our lack; on the contrary, our poverty still persists. He will care for our hearts in such a way to enable them to hold full the message, in the midst of our impoverishment, that the year of the Lord’s favor draweth nigh!
So we come now to captivity. Captivity is not the same as imprisonment, which comes next if His message of hope has not yet gripped us firmly. Captivity is when we begin to be led away. If poverty is circumstantial lack and broken heartedness is the onset of despair, then captivity is when we begin to allpw that despair to over-shadow every other area of lives. Despair begins to define us. Hopelessness begins to characterize us. Broken heartedness is compartmentalized in relation to the situation where we feel impoverished. Captivity is the beginning of desperate feelings creeping into other areas of our lives that are actually flourishing, with sentiments like, “well, I’m certain this goodness won’t last…” Even still, He declares to us in our captivity…the year of the Lord’s favor draweth nigh!
Finally, our captivity leads us into imprisonment. This stage is simply understood through one word, resignation. Resignation is beyond despair, beyond hopelessness, into the realm of acceptance. The attitude that says, “this is my lot, my fate, my life forever.” This is the place where there are not even moments of wondering if our lack will ever be satisfied. We have come to fully embrace our poverty and now find self-identification in it. We can no longer envision our lives without our poverty. Not all of us have been here but we have most certainly known those who have, or are. Indifference has filled their soul and displaced all capacity for hope. This is why the text uses the word darkness here for the first time…yet even still, His message comes, the year of the Lord’s favor draweth nigh!
Do you have a stage where you are? Take hold of His promise, see your poverty but have vision for His preaching…the year of the Lord’s favor draweth nigh!