Some of the brightest hope is found in the prophecies recorded in the Book of Isaiah. The people lived under the rollercoaster rule of good and bad kings. They also faced the invasions of other nations on several occasions. You can imagine the feeling of hopelessness when evil kings and people brought about God’s judgment on the nation. However, although there were problems which needed to be addressed, the Lord’s prophecies helped the people to look forward to a time when things would be better. And they also looked forward to someone who would make that difference.
You are probably familiar with Isaiah 7:14 where the virgin birth of Jesus was prophesied. Then there is Isaiah 9:6 where He is described as “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” There we find that His kingdom will never end and that justice would be faithfully carried out under His rule. After so many bad kings, this must have been a wonderful thing to look forward to. But there is another prophecy found in Isaiah 61:1-2. It is a prophecy of kindness and hope and is what we will look at today.
- Hope to come (Isaiah 61:1-2).
The prophecies of the Book of Isaiah record several descriptions of the Coming Messiah. In that book, He is called the child born to a virgin, the Servant who would suffer, and sometimes is not named but just described. As we look at the beginning of Isaiah 61, we see another description of Him. Here He is the bringer of hope.
a. He would be anointed by God (1a).
God’s plan was to anoint Someone to bring hope to the people of Judah. You may recall that King Saul was anointed by God and enabled to do great things at the beginning of His reign. King David was also anointed and enabled by God to do great things. This anointing was a sign that God was enabling that particular person to carry out His plan at that particular time. In this chapter, we see that this unnamed person would be anointed and empowered by God to do some wonderful things.
b. He would help troubled people (1b).
In verses 1-2, we find that God the Father sent this anointed One to do several things:
• He would preach good tidings to the poor.
• He would heal the brokenhearted.
• He would liberate captives.
• He would proclaim God’s favor.
Have you ever been poor? There is something disheartening about being poor and unable to provide for your family. Think of the Old Testament woman who was making her last meal and getting ready to die. What would bring you hope? You would find hope if someone offered to help you with your needs. God has a way of caring for and meeting the needs of the poor.
Have you ever been brokenhearted? There are people today who are heartbroken because of a sick family member, a troubled marriage, or a ruined reputation. What would bring hope to someone like this? Broken hearts need time to heal, but they also need hope. This can best be found with God’s help. He is able, where others are not, to heal these emotional scars.
Have you ever been held captive? In the last year, a WNBA player was imprisoned in Russia due to having some illegal drugs. Her sentence of ten years in prison included time in a work camp. Things didn’t look good until the US traded a prisoner for her release. I would imagine that she is ecstatic and thankful for her release. But most of us don’t face this kind of captivity. However, people today are often held captive by their addiction to drugs, alcohol, immorality, etc. What would bring hope to these situations? Being set free from this bondage would be so helpful. But this kind of help can only come from God.
Have you ever felt unaccepted by the Lord? Perhaps your sinfulness has caused you great shame, or your current situation makes you think that God could never accept you or show you favor. What would make you feel accepted by Him? If someone came to you and proclaimed that there was a way for you to be accepted by God, wouldn’t that bring you joy?
Summary: Isaiah prophesied that God would anoint someone with the power to help troubled people. He would speak to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, free the captive, and proclaim God’s favor. Who was this special person? The answer to this question is found in the New Testament.
- Hope in Jesus (Luke 4:16-21).
After the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus went back to Galilee and taught in many of the synagogues. He “initially was a popular Teacher, so when He went back to His hometown, it was natural for Him to teach in” the synagogue there (Martin 214).
When given the opportunity to read the Scripture, Jesus took the scroll of Isaiah. “It was the custom in the synagogue for a man to stand while he was reading the Scripture but then to sit while explaining the portion he had read” (Martin 214). He stood and read these few lines from Isaiah 61 and then sat down. He then told the people that these words were fulfilled that day.
a. Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy (21).
“When Jesus added, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing, the implication was clear. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah who could bring the kingdom of God which had been promised for so long” (Martin 214). This must have been a shock to the home crowd. But it was true.
Notice something interesting here. “When Jesus read from this passage He stopped in the middle of the sentence, after the word ‘favor’ (Luke 4:18-19). By doing this He was showing that His work would be divided into two advents. In His first Advent He did the things mentioned in Isaiah 61:1-2a; in His Second Advent He will do the things in verses 2b-3” (Martin 1116).
b. Jesus brought hope to many people.
If you compare the list in the prophecy to what Jesus actually did during his earthly ministry, you would find quite a bit of evidence of Him fulfilling it.
• He preached to the poor (Mark 12:37b).
When you think of poor people, you think of the common person as opposed to a wealthy person. Jesus spoke to all types of people, but he particularly reached the common people. And being that he came from a poor family, he was able to understand their needs. In Mark 12:37b, we find that the common people heard his preaching gladly.
• He healed the brokenhearted (Luke 7:11-17).
While visiting the city of Nain, Jesus came across a funeral procession. A widow woman had just lost her only son and was weeping as they carried his body out of the city. Our loving Lord had compassion on her and told her not to weep. He then commanded the dead man to get up… and he did! The brokenhearted woman must have been stunned, but her poor old heart was no longer broken. Jesus did the impossible for her and healed her broken heart.
• He liberated captives (Mark 5:1-20).
One of my favorite stories about Jesus is him healing the demoniac of Gadera. This man was unable to be bound with chains, but was totally bound by the demons who possessed his body. He often cried out with a loud voice and cut himself with stones. He was in a terrible predicament until Jesus cast out the demons. The happy man wanted to go with Jesus but was sent home to tell his friends what the Lord had done for him. How wonderful it must have been to hear his tale of being freed.
• He gave sight to the blind (Mark 10:46-52).
Jesus provided light to not only the spiritually blind but the physically blind as well. Blind Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus as he passed by to have mercy on him. He was unable to see and had to rely on others to get around. It was a terrible situation, but he knew that Jesus could help him. Jesus rewarded his faith by healing him that day.
In each of these situations, Jesus showed the kindness of the Lord to those who were struggling under difficult situations. He preached to the poor, healed the brokenhearted, delivered the captive, and gave sight to the blind.
c. Jesus was not accepted by some (28-30).
We know all that Jesus did and are convinced that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. But the people in the synagogue were convinced. They “were amazed at His gracious words, but they immediately began to question the authority with which He could say these things. How could Joseph’s Son—the Boy they saw grow up in their town—be the Messiah?” (Martin 214)
Sadly, the unbelief in Nazareth was very strong. It was similar to what it was like in Isaiah’s time. They refused to believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of that ancient prophecy of hope. And as a result, they did not find the very thing that they were looking for.
- Hope for today
So far, we have looked at Isaiah’s prophecy of hope and evidence that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy during his earthly ministry. But what about today? Is it possible that Jesus could bring us the hope we desire?
a. Do you fit into any of these categories?
The same conditions that affected people in Isaiah’s and Jesus’ day are still prevalent today. There are some who are poor, who constantly struggle with paying the bills, who don’t know where the money will come from to meet the needs of tomorrow, and who feel that they will always be reliant on someone else. There are some who are brokenhearted, who don’t know how they will face the emotional toll their situation is handing them. They need healing. There are some who are held captive by sin at this very moment, who struggle with temptation and can’t seem to break away from it. There are some who feel unaccepted by God, who want to know how they can get past the guilt they feel because of their sin.
b. Does Jesus care about you?
Do you know that the same God who promised to bring hope in Isaiah’s and Jesus’ time has not changed? Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cares for you and wants to help you through the struggles you are currently facing. Whether it is financial, emotional, sinful, or mental needs, God sent Jesus to help us. If you will turn to Him and seek His remedy for your situation, you will find the hope that you need.
He wants you to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and to let Him meet your needs. He wants you to bring your broken heart to Him for healing and to find that His love is ultimately what you need. He wants you to see what sinful habits are holding you captive and how He can enable you to be free. He wants you to know that His love is available if you will turn from your sin to believe Him.
There is hope and it is found in Jesus.
It is interesting how one of the Christmas carols fits in with today’s message. The fourth verse of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” says:
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing; –
Oh, rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing!
It may be that you have come today with a heavy load of care. The things that you have gone through recently are perhaps more than you know how to handle. I want you to know that the Lord cares for you and wants you to have hope. Take your cares to Him and let Him give you hope.
For those who do not know the Lord, your first step is to read the Bible and to learn about Jesus. Read through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and find out who He is. As you study about Him, you will see that He can give you the hope you need. Ultimately, you need to come to the place where you turn from your sin to place your trust in the fact that His death on the cross paid the price for your sins. When you trust in Him, God will forgive you of your sins and change your life. He will give you hope where you did not have it before.
For those who do know the Lord, let me remind you that Jesus does care about you. He wants to help you through your difficult situations. Sometimes when we face those circumstances, we don’t do what we know we should. We need to trust the Lord and give Him our troubles. Remember what the Lord says in Philippians 4:6-7? He says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Will you take your cares to the Lord and let Him take care of them? You will be glad that you did.
Hendriksen, William, Luke, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978, reprint 2004, pp. 250-54.
Ironside, H. A., Expository Notes on the Prophet Isaiah, Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1952, reprint 1979, pp. 338-40.
“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” as viewed at https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/it_came_upon_the_midnight_clear.htm on 12/10/2022.
Leupold, H. C., Exposition of Isaiah Volume II Chapters 40-66, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977, pp. 318-22.
Martin, John A., “Isaiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (USA: SP Publications, 1989), pp. 1115-16.
Martin, John A., “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (USA: SP Publications, 1983), pp. 214-15.
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. III, Proverbs through Malachi, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982, pp. 335-36.
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, Matthew through Romans, pp. 263-65.