Isaiah 61

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 16, 2000


We begin a chapter that Jesus claimed to be about Him.


:1  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek

Spiritruwach – wind, breath, mind, spirit

Lord ‘Adonay – my lord, lord

GOD[email protected] – Jehovah-used primarily in the combination ‘Lord Jehovah’; equal to 03068 (Yahweh) but pointed with the vowels of Elohim.

anointedmashach – to smear, anoint, spread a liquid; putting oil on a person.

The priests were anointed with the holy anointing oil, and this gave them their qualification for ministry (Ex. 30:30).

(Exo 30:30 KJV)  And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.

Boys became kings when they were anointed (1Sam. 16:13; 1Ki. 1:39-40). The word “Messiah” (the Greek word is “Christ”) means “anointed” (Dan. 9:25)

(1 Sam 16:13 KJV)  Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
 (1 Ki 1:39-40 KJV)  And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. {40} And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.
(Dan 9:25 KJV)  Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince …

The term “anointing” is used to refer to the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer.

(1 John 2:27 KJV)  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

This is the Messiah speaking here.  He’s saying that God’s Spirit is the anointing that has qualified Him to preach, to do His ministry.


Ministry requires anointing.

When Jesus was baptized by John, Jesus had prayed and the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove upon Jesus (Luke 2:21-22).  If you keep following the story, you see Jesus being tested in the wilderness for 40 days, then going back to Nazareth to start His ministry.  He starts by going to the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), reading Isaiah 61:1-2, and then announcing that the prophecy had been fulfilled that day.
He had been anointed.  He was now beginning His ministry.
Taste Test.
The topic of the “Holy Spirit” is one that makes many people uncomfortable.

Many of us know what it’s like to see some pretty yucky things happening, all supposedly being led by the Holy Spirit.  We’ve said to ourselves, “If that’s the Holy Spirit, then I don’t want any!”

You’ve tasted of the wrong thing.  It wasn’t the Holy Spirit.

Come and see what the Holy Spirit really tastes like.  The Holy Spirit produces “fruit”.  Come and take a taste and see if you like it.


The other day at lunch my wife took some nectarines, cut them up, and put them on a plate in the center of the kitchen table.  Two of my boys knew how good nectarines were, and they didn’t have any trouble snatching up all the pieces of the delicious fruit.  One of my sons was a little reluctant.  He wasn’t sure he liked the looks of the fruit.  We found ourselves trying anything we could just to get him to taste and see how good it was.

(Gal 5:22-23 KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, {23} Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Taste the real thing.  You need the Holy Spirit in your life.

How?  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus was praying when the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Luke 3:21-22).
The empowering of the Holy Spirit is often tied to prayer.  Prayer is a large part of learning to walk under God’s anointing.
That great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, writes to young pastors in Lectures to My Students (pgs.49-50), about the benefits of spending time alone with God in prayer,

“One bright benison which private prayer brings down upon the ministry is an indescribable and inimitable something, better understood than named; it is a dew from the Lord, a divine presence  which you will recognize at once when I say it is “an unction from the holy One.”  What is it?  I wonder how long we might beat our brains before we could plainly put into words what is meant by preaching with unction; yet he who preaches knows its presence, and he who hears soon detects its absence …Every one knows what the freshness of the morning is when orient pearls abound on every blade of grass, but who can describe it, much less produce it of itself?  Such is the mystery of spiritual anointing; we know, but we cannot tell to others what it is.”

Spurgeon then goes on to say,

“Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless; yet it is in itself priceless, and beyond measure needful if you would edify believers and bring sinners to Jesus.  To the secret pleader with God this secret is committed; upon him rests the dew of the Lord, about him is the perfume which makes glad the heart.  If the anointing which we bear come not from the Lord of hosts we are deceivers, and since only in prayer can we obtain it, let us continue instant, constant, fervent in supplication.  Let your fleece lie on the threshing-floor of supplication till it is wet with the dew of heaven.  Go not to minister in the temple till you have washed in the laver.  Think not to be a messenger of grace to others till you have seen the God of grace for yourselves, and had the word from his mouth.”

How do I pray for this “anointing”?
(John 7:37-39 KJV)  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Underline the words “thirst”, “come”, “drink” and “believeth”.

1.  Your prayer for God’s anointing needs to come from a place of being “thirsty”.  you need to know that you need the Holy Spirit.  That’s where the “asking” comes in.  You ask because you need.

2.  You need to be coming to Jesus.  Only Jesus has the real thing.

3.  You need to receive.  Drink.  It’s not just about asking for a drink when the can of Pepsi is sitting on the table in front of you.  Take time to drink. 

Sometimes you pull in to the gas station and only have time to put in a few gallons, but most of the time you need to slow down and take the time to fill up your tank.  Receive.

4.  You receive by believing.  You only have to trust Jesus to fill you with the Holy Spirit.  It’s not some sort of psyched up, pumped up believing.  You just have to know in your heart that Jesus will keep His promise.  Can you trust Jesus to keep a promise to you?  Jesus didn’t promise the Holy Spirit to those who would feel, but to those who would believe.

Ministry – anointing - prayer

:1  to preach good tidings unto the meek

preach good tidingsbasar – (Piel) to gladden with good news; to bear news (as a messenger); to announce (salvation) as good news, preach

meek ‘anav – poor, humble, afflicted, meek; lowly

Jesus’ ministry involved telling humble people that God cared about them.

:1  he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted

bind upchabash – to tie, bind, bind on, bind up, saddle, restrain, bandage, govern

Before sutures, when a person got a deep cut, you’d have to press the cut together and wrap it up tight so it would heal.

brokenshabar – (Niphal) to be broken, be maimed, be crippled, be wrecked; to be broken, be crushed (fig)

heartedleb – inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding

God has a concern for those with broken hearts.  He has sent Jesus to heal your heart.  Let Jesus get close enough to work on your heart.

That’s the ministry of Jesus.  Sometimes we can get frustrated with people who are depressed or emotional cripples.  But if you want to be in ministry, you need to be concerned for broken hearts.

Near the close of his ministry, a famous British preacher of the Victorian Age said, “If I had my ministry to do over, I would preach more to broken hearts.” (Wiersbe)

:1  to proclaim liberty to the captives

to proclaimqara’ – to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim

liberty[email protected] – a flowing, free run, liberty

captivesshabah – to take captive

This is actually language that points back to the “Year of Jubilee”.

Le 25:10  And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

The Jews were given certain laws to help keep their economy in balance.  Every seven years, those who were slaves were to be set free.  Every fifty years, every piece of property that had been mortgaged or sold to someone outside of the family was to revert back to the original family.

It was like a fresh start.  It was like getting a notice that your credit cards have all been paid.


Forgiving others

The concept of “forgiveness” is the idea of releasing a person from debt.

If you find yourself owing a bank $20,000, and you’ve lost your job, and you have no way to repay, you might be able to plead with the lender to “forgive” part of your debt.  They would rather get at least $5,000 from you than get nothing at all.  And so they might “forgive” you of $15,000.  Maybe.

When someone does something to hurt you, they “owe” you.  They ought to pay you something in return for damaging you.

When you “forgive” a person, you release them from their debt.  You are saying to them, “You no longer owe me”.

Sometimes I’ll be counseling with someone and they’ll be telling me about something hurtful that has happened in their life.  They’ll be careful to tell me that they’ve forgiven the other person, but the way they describe it all to me, it’s clear that they think the other person still owes them.  They don’t usually like this, but I’ll tell them that it doesn’t sound like they’ve really forgiven the other person.

Telling the other person that you’ve forgiven them doesn’t make it so.  Forgiveness means that you stop calling their bank to see if the check is good.  Forgiveness means that you don’t send the Terminator to collect.  Forgiveness means that you let it go.


Jesus forgives you.

Jesus’ ministry was all about paying debts. Jesus’ ministry was all about forgiveness.  He spent a lot of time with people who were in deep debt to God.  He spent time with sinners.  But rather than just helping them get even deeper in debt to God, Jesus helped people out of debt.
He was telling them about this Year of Jubilee, when all debts would be cancelled.
(Luke 5:18-25 KJV)  And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. {19} And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. {20} And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. {21} And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? {22} But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? {23} Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? {24} But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. {25} And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
We too are paralyzed, unable to move because of our sin.  We too owe God a great deal.  But God is willing “forgive” your debt.
God is willing to forgive because Jesus has paid the debt Himself.
Jesus died on a cross, paying for the price of your sins.
Are you willing to repent?  Are you willing to turn from your sins?  God is willing to cancel your debt.

:1 and the opening of the prison to them that are bound

opening of the prison[email protected] – opening (of eyes), wide

bound‘acar – to tie, bind, imprison

Literally, “the most complete opening”, or, “the opening of the eyes

After Jesus healed a man who had been born blind,  He said,

(John 9:39 NLT)  Then Jesus told him, "I have come to judge the world. I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind."

There is a sense in which those who don’t believe in Jesus are “blind”.

(2 Cor 4:4 NLT)  Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them.

We need to pray for blind eyes to be opened.

:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,

proclaimqara’ – to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim

acceptableratsown – pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance

God really, really cares about you.

:2  and the day of vengeance of our God

vengeancenaqam – vengeance; vengeance (by God, by Samson, by enemies of Judah)

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:18-19), He stopped short of this phrase.

Even though Jesus would indeed preach that God would be one day judging the world, the fulfillment of this portion of the prophecy won’t be fulfilled until the day that Jesus comes back.

We have an example of “prophetic telescoping” here.  The span of time between the comma and the next phrase enveloped a two thousand year jump.

From this point, it would seem that the rest of the chapter moves from the time of Jesus’ first coming to the time of His second coming.

:2  to comfort all that mourn

comfortnacham   (Piel) to comfort, console

mourn ‘abel – mourning; for the dead; because of calamity

We’ll see how He’ll comfort them in the next verse.  God is talking about comforting those who mourn over their sin.  Those who mourn over their debt to God.

We’ll come back to verse 3 at the end.


:4 And they shall build the old wastes

old ‘owlam – long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world

wasteschorbah – a place laid waste, ruin, waste, desolation

When Jesus comes back, the ancient places in Israel will be rebuilt.

:4 they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

desolationsshamem – (Qal) to be desolated, be deflowered, be deserted, be appalled; to be appalled, be awestruck

wastechoreb – dryness, desolation, drought, heat

:5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks

strangers – referring to Gentiles, to us.

:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

Priestskohen – priest, principal officer or chief ruler

Ministerssharath   (Piel) to minister, serve, minister to

:7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion:

confusion[email protected] – disgrace, reproach, shame, confusion, dishonour, insult, ignominy

:7  therefore in their land they shall possess the double

The “double portion” of the inheritance usually went to the firstborn (Deut. 21:17).  When a father would die, the children would all get a portion of the inheritance, but the first born son would get twice as much as the others.  Israel was called God’s “firstborn” among the nations (Ex. 4:22).

(Isa 61:7 NIV)  Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.

:8 For I the LORD love judgment

judgmentmishpat – justice; proper, fitting. God loves what is right.

:8  I hate robbery for burnt offering

robberygazel – robbery, something plundered

burnt offering ‘olah – whole burnt offering

(Isa 61:8 NIV)  I hate robbery and iniquity

:8 and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

directnathan – to give, put, set; to give, bestow, grant, permit, ascribe, employ, devote, consecrate, dedicate, pay wages, sell, exchange, lend, commit, entrust, give over, deliver up, yield produce, occasion, produce, requite to, report, mention, utter, stretch out, extend; to put, set, put on, put upon, set, appoint, assign, designate; to make, constitute

work[email protected]‘ullah – work, recompense, reward

truth ‘emeth – firmness, faithfulness, truth; sureness, reliability; stability, continuance

:9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles

The descendants of the Jews will be famous.


:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD

Or, “rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord

:10  my soul shall be joyful in my God; for

joyfulgiyl – to rejoice, exult, be glad

:10  he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation

salvationyesha‘– deliverance, salvation, rescue, safety, welfare

It seems that those who are saved are speaking here.

:10  as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments

deckethkahan – to act as a priest, minister in a priest’s office

ornaments[email protected]’er – head-dress, ornament, turban

or, “as a bridegroom puts on a priestly turban”.  Interesting.  Jesus is our “bridegroom” and He’s also our “high priest”.

:10 and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

God will really fix us up!

:11 the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Right now, it’s pretty hard to get good things to come out of people.  Not when Jesus comes back.


:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,

appointsuwm – to put, place, set, appoint, make

These promises are for those who mourn.  Those who grieve over their sin.

:3  to give unto them beauty for ashes,

beauty[email protected]’er – head-dress, ornament, turban; from – pa’ar – to glorify, beautify, adorn

ashes ‘epher – ashes

We don’t see it in English, but there’s a little play on words here with “beauty” and “ashes” ([email protected]’er and ‘epher).  They sound very similar, but they are very different.  God can take something as ugly as ashes and make a little change and turn it to beauty.

:3  the oil of joy for mourning

joysasown – gladness, joy, exultation, rejoicing

Oil was considered a part of personal grooming (2Sam. 14:2).  When you “dressed up”, you put on oil.  It was a way to “bless” others when they came to your house by putting a perfumed oil on them (Luke 7:46).

Don’t forget, “oil” is a picture of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gives us joy.

:3  the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

praise[email protected] – praise, song or hymn of praise

heavinesskeheh – dim, dull, colorless, be dark, faint

Instead of dull, colorless clothes, He brightens our lives with praise.

:3  that they might be called trees of righteousness

trees ‘ayil – ram; pillar, door post, jambs, pilaster; strong man, leader, chief; mighty tree, terebinth

righteousnesstsedeq – justice, rightness, righteousness

plantingmatta‘– place or act of planting, planting, plantation

These people will be like tall, strong oak trees, a witness of God’s faithfulness.

:3  that he might be glorified

glorifiedpa’ar (related to “beauty”, [email protected]’er) – to glorify, beautify, adorn; (Hithpael) to glorify oneself; to get glory to oneself, be glorified

God brings glory or “beauty” to Himself by changing our lives.  God looks good when He changes our lives.


God’s restoration.

Though this is talking about what God will do for the Jews in Jerusalem when Jesus comes back, there’s a sense in which He does it for us now.
(Luke 15:11-24 KJV)  And he said, A certain man had two sons: {12} And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. {13} And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. {14} And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. {15} And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. {16} And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. {17} And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! {18} I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, {19} And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. {20} And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. {21} And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. {22} But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: {23} And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: {24} For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.


Ernest Hemingway wrote a story about a father and his teenage son. In the story, the relationship had become somewhat strained, and the teenage son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of that rebellious son.
Finally, in Madrid, Spain, in a last desperate attempt to find the boy, the father put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, Meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” The next day, in front of the newspaper office, eight hundred Pacos showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness. They were all seeking the love of their father.
-- George Munzing, "Living a Life of Integrity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 32.
It’s time to come home to the Father.