Isaiah 61:1-11 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In Isaiah 61 a mysterious messenger suddenly appears, very abruptly and without introduction. What claim does he make in verse 1 (printed below?)

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, because Jehovah has anointed me to preach good news to those who are afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1)

In Isaiah 61 a messenger from the Lord suddenly appears and announces his divine calling: “The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me.” Here is someone anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to carry out the divine calling entrusted to him. In the remainder of verse 1 and continuing through verse 3, this messenger proceeds to describe his calling.

2. Who is this mysterious messenger whom we meet in Isaiah 61? Note Luke 4:16-21 (printed below)

(Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. (17) The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: (18) The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, (19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (20) Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4:16-21)

In the gospel of Luke our Lord Jesus reveals that the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 61 is referring to Him and His ministry as the Messiah, the servant of the Lord.

3. How does Isaiah describe the results of the Messiah’s redeeming work and the effect it has upon God’s people? See Isaiah 61:3b (printed below)

Then they will be called Oaks of Righteousness, planted by Jehovah, so that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3b)

The results of the Messiah’s redeeming work, and the effect it has upon God’s people, is described as follows: “they will be called Oaks of Righteousness, planted by Jehovah, so that he may be glorified” (verse 3b). With their God-given righteousness the redeemed will resemble mighty oaks. They shall be planted by the Lord in His land, rooted into the life of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. These stately oaks of righteousness shall adorn the kingdom of God and shall be for His own glory—redeemed by Him, planted by Him, reflecting His glory by their fruit and in their stature.

4. What causes Isaiah to rejoice in the Lord (Jehovah?) See Isaiah 61:10 (printed below)

I rejoice greatly in Jehovah, my soul exults in my God; because he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a robe of righteousness—like a bridegroom adorns his head with a turban like a priest and like a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Isaiah greatly rejoices in the Lord, indeed, his soul exults in his God, because the Lord has clothed him with “the garments of salvation.” Isaiah goes on to explain that the Lord has wrapped around him a robe of righteousness, thereby enabling him to stand before the Holy One and be accepted. Previously, when Isaiah saw the Lord in His majesty and heard the seraphim proclaim His holiness, Isaiah trembled with fear, for he was acutely aware of his sinful condition (Isaiah 6:1-5). But now he can rejoice because the Lord has placed upon him the robe of righteousness. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us rejoice in the fact that the Lord has clothed us with His own perfect righteousness.

5. What assurance does the Lord give us in Isaiah 61:11 (printed below?)

As the soil makes the sprouts to come up and a garden causes the seeds sown in it to grow, so will the Lord Jehovah cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

The Lord gives us the assurance that He will cause His righteousness to triumph. Just as the sprouts spring up out of the soil, so shall the Lord cause righteousness to spring up before all nations. As Christians, when we consider the present state of the world we may become discouraged, even to the point of despair, due to the prevalence and apparent dominance of evil. Such was the case with Isaiah himself (note Isaiah 24:16b). But as Christians we can be encouraged and rejoice when we consider the final destiny God has appointed for His renewed creation as it is defined for us in Isaiah 61. What Isaiah speaks of here is the same thing the apostle Peter presents in 2 Peter 3:13, “According to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”