a head-dress instead of ashes

July 2015 (26)Isaiah 61:1-6

1 A spirit from my Lord Yahveh is upon me, because Yahveh has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the ones with broken hearts, to proclaim freedom to the captives, and liberation for the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of Yahveh’s favour, and the day of retribution from our God; to comfort all the mourners; 3 to set up those who mourn in Zion– giving them a head-dress instead of ashes, oil to enjoy instead of using it for mourning rituals, the mantle of praise instead of a tired spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, those whom Yahveh planted to display his glory. 4 They will build up the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; they will repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 5 Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, foreigners will till your soil and dress your vines; 6 but you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God; you will enjoy the wealth of those nations, and you will glory in their riches.

a head-dress instead of ashes

Their is a considerable Sikh population here in South Auckland, New Zealand, where I currently live. The Sikhs wear turbans. For them, that elaborate head dress conveys “royalty, grace and uniqueness.”[1] The Israelites in Isaiah’s day knew nothing of these concepts. They only knew oppression, slavery, devastation and shame. Isaiah’s words of comfort to these people challenged them to imagine a new day: a day when they become the “haves” instead of the “have nots.”

Jesus came preaching a message to this same people, and he carried the same anointing.[2] He looked upon this spiritually poor, oppressed and mourning people, and he told them that they are blessed by the Lord. The Lord has given them a turban to wear instead of the ashes of humility and mourning. He has proclaimed them part of his royal priesthood, his unique people.

The gospel proclaims this same message for everyone, everywhere. You do not have to live in the shame and bondage that you are living in now. God has a future for you that is totally different. Dare to believe in this restoration, and you will see it some day.

LORD, give us the insight to accept your challenge, and to believe in our future in Christ.

[1] http://fateh.sikhnet.com/s/WhyTurbans

[2] Luke 4:18-19.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at marmsky@gmail.com -- !
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