They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast. – Isaiah 61:4-6
Last week, we learned what God would do for His people who grieve and mourn and hurt. “He will bestow” was the message. He gives us a crown of beauty in exchange for our ashes, the oil of joy in exchange for our mourning, and a garment of praise in exchange for our despair. He is the renewing and regenerating force in our lives.
For many of us, ‘they’ is a very general term. We don’t know who ‘they’ are, but surely ‘they’ are supposed to fix our problems and ‘they’ are probably to blame for our problems to begin with! However, in this passage, ‘they’ refers to the one who mourn and the ones to whom the anointed one came to proclaim freedom and release. In short, if Jesus is the anointed one that the prophet spoke about (and He is!), then we are ‘they’! We are the ones that this passage refers to.
Rebuild the ruins…restore the ruined cities devastated for generations.
Because of what Christ did in renewing our hope and giving us the crown of beauty, the oil of joy, and the garment of praise, we can now rebuild the ruins! He doesn’t rebuild them for us. Rather, He equips us for the rebuilding. He calls us to rebuild! In His power, the messes that we have made by turning away from the Lord can be made like new. Even the messes that have been in our family for generations...addictions, abuse, attitudes, anger, and unforgiveness…can be healed in power of Christ. The ruins can be rebuilt. This is good news!
Strangers will shepherd your flocks…and you will be called priests
This points to a change of role. In the past, even in the best times, the people of God were shepherds and workers in the vineyards. God proclaims that in the future, the primary focus of the people of God will be to lead others to Christ. For us, this means that no matter what our job is, this is not our primary function. Even in our job, we are to be a priest! For most of us, we cannot even imagine that we would lead people closer to God. Rather, we are just happy to be people that are a little better than we used to be. What is it that will make us worthy or able to lead others closer to God? This is a testimony to how complete the change is that God wants to make in our lives. He doesn’t just want to make us better. He wants us to be a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come! We are so completely and fully changed that our very lives will lead people closer to Christ as we proclaim the power of the one who changed us! Are you settling for “better than I used to be” or are you willing to consider that “all that God has for me” may be more than you ever expect?
Don’t miss next week as we begin our series “I Love My Church – NEXT” and begin to talk about all that God is doing in our church!