Torah reading: Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8
Haftorah reading: Isaiah 60: 1-22
This section of Isaiah contains a few nuggets for our inspiration. It opens with these words:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for His own glory. Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT
God raised up a prophet endowed with the Holy Spirit to bring a Word that transforms poverty into prosperity; a Word that restores broken hearts; a Word that unleashes the cage of incarcerated dreams and visions; a Word that gives perspective for vision and leadership within the discombobulated realities of post-exilic Jerusalem.
To Isaiah, love and service for the post-exilic Hebrew people were priority. Equipping the people to rebuild waste places and regaining beauty for ashes were more important to the prophet than building his own ministry.
Divine callings are validated by our willingness to submit to the Spirit that has appointed and anointed us for the particular work to which God has called us. Isaiah, surrounded by broken communities and fear; beauty trampled into ashes; years of hard labor smashed in a little time, announces with the confidence of one who knows his calling, that the Spirit of the LORD has sent him to lift up the downcast.
This was a risky declaration. Conditions were not good in Jerusalem at that time but Isaiah does what no president, prime minister or politician could do. He brings the hope that the people needed. How? Because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he obeyed the prompting.
This Word from God came at a time when the people felt that they were forgotten, unloved and abandoned. The message of the prophet assured Israel that God still loves and favors the abandoned.
The very same Word that spoke order in the middle of chaos in Genesis 1 is the same Word that filled the mouth of the prophet. There is something incredible that happens when the Spirit of God shows up.
- The Spirit brings a Word to solve problems;
- The Spirit brings a Word to undo predicaments and heal pains;
- The Spirit comes with a Word that transforms lives and communities;
- The Spirit comes with a Word to resolve and restoration;
- The Spirit comes with a Word to change and challenge;
- The Spirit comes with a Word to rescue and reveal God’s power;
- The Spirit comes with a vision and provision;
- The Spirit brings a Word of hope and help.
The “good news” to the broken is restoration. The “good news” to the hurting is healing.
What does this passage have to do with us today?
You and I may not be anointed as ‘prophets’ but the same Spirit of the LORD that empowered Isaiah is the same Spirit of the LORD today. There isn’t a different one!
In 1945, Alma Androzzo penned the words to the song, “If I can help somebody as I pass along; if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, If I can show somebody he is traveling wrong; Then my living shall not be in vain.”
It is high time that we jump off the political bandwagons and take our position as God’s people seriously. You can help solve problems, comfort the hurting, encourage the lonely and change your community – yes YOU! The power of ONE is immeasurable, and never greater than when you have been empowered by the Spirit of the LORD for a specific task.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that we recognize the power that we each have to affect change and that we all step forward in obedience to the Spirit of the LORD. If we each take this responsibility we become many and, in this context, one is no small number. So, next time you think of yourself as “just one person” remember what a powerful thing that is. Just because you’re one doesn’t mean you’re small – it means you’re one more person who can make a difference.
It may be the lovable toddler or the wayward teen, the grieving widow or the grateful man for whom all is well. Each person is an individual. Each has divine potential. And each must be spiritually nourished and temporally cared for with love, kindness, and individual attention.
In Tune with Torah this week = Child of God, you are not here by accident or happenstance. You have a specific purpose to fulfill for God’s glory. Let no timidity, excuse or rationalization keep you from walking in the destiny to which you were born.
The Spirit of the LORD is your strength.