Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
8 January 2023
“The Lord clothes us with garments of salvation and righteousness, making us His Bride. He gives us His Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, all for His glory and praise, Amen!”
Please read: Isaiah 61:1-4
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes …Isaiah 61:3
In the OT people wore sackcloth and ashes in certain situations,
(1) an outward sign of repentance e.g. Jesus refers to Tyre and Sidon (both targets of prophetic denunciation in the OT – Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 28:20-23) who would have repented in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21);
(2) In times of national disaster, e.g. when an edict was passed by the King to destroy all the Jews,
When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.Esther 4:1
(3) We might add a third point for ashes also remind us of our mortality (cf. Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20).
Beauty for ashes is a beautiful reflection on what change Jesus Christ can bring about in any person’s life, even in a nation’s life, in these three circumstances above, and even in what we may regard as the worst of circumstances. He turns them around for His glory and praise and for our great blessing, beauty for ashes. Jesus, Himself, referred this passage to Himself:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.Luke 4:18-19
We are to pray and act:
(a) for this to take place
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?Isaiah 58:6-9:
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: here am I.
(b) to ask for the same anointing, (Luke 11:11-13).
Let us finish by reading the verses in Isaiah surrounding our text which Jesus also fulfilled:
To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.Isa 61:2, 3
May 2023 be a year in which we experience more of the Lord’s beauty in our lives in place of the ashes of mourning, sin, pain, fear, injustice, hatred, bitterness, abuse, rejection, loneliness, despair, and that we bring beauty in place of ashes in the lives of those we meet, Amen.
Quote of the week
“Of one thing I am perfectly sure; God’s story never ends with ashes”
Verse of the week
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.1 Pet. 5:10
Heavenly Father, may 2023 be a year in which Your Church experiences abundantly more of Your beauty, and immeasurably more of Your Spirit; for Your glory and for the blessing of the world – beauty for ashes – in and through the altogether lovely one, Jesus Christ, Amen