The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor: he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion–to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
I admit that when I see this, all I see is Burma. I ache for it. Particularly that phrase–“a beautiful headdress instead of ashes…gladness instead of mourning…praise instead of a faint spirit…that they may be called oaks of righteousness…that he may be glorified.” I may just type it all again, because I can’t type it with adequate ache and passion, and I’m not a fan of all caps shouting. I envision some of my dearest friends from Burma–and I see them, with these beautiful headdresses, full of rejoicing, oaks of righteousness, as a testimony to the glory of God. A testimony to the ancient ruins and devastation of many generations.
My dear friend, Kim, and I have these moments where we’ll admit we really do believe and hope that Burma will be free. And it’s true, our lives are a testimony to it. There is no logic, and it seems so far from possible, but we live in such a way that Burma will be freed, that God is moving in the displacement of millions, and that he is and will be glorified. And it is the best example I have of hope in my life–because I genuinely believe it. I’m genuinely waiting for it. I genuinely expect it to come.
Another side note–I really want to leave out the phrase “the day of vengeance of our God.” The whole passage is so wonderfully optimistic–freedom, liberty, comfort, favor, beauty, gladness, rejoicing. But then you have “proclaim…the day of vengeance”. Yikes. I prefer the lighthearted.
I was reading and underlining in my Bible, and I actually skipped that line first. Then I felt it wasn’t right to just leave out a sentence of Scripture–seemed a little choosy. And then as I read it, considered it: it’s perhaps the most important part, to proclaim the truth of eternity and the truth of judgment day. Still not as lighthearted as I’d like, but convicting. We can’t merely rejoice at prisoners being freed, celebrate the comfort of the Savior–it must come alongside proclamations. And the proclamations include both favor and judgment.
How holy is our God? I can’t even wrap my mind around the multifaceted depth of this passage. It’s been mulling my head for days, and pushing me in various directions, causing discomfort and hope at the same time.
[How do you end this? Amen?]