Published on
October 11, 2023

Isaiah 61

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted..."

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Isaiah 61
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance, to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord, to glorify Him.” Isaiah 61:1-3

In today’s chapter, the covenant is referred to as “an everlasting covenant” (61:8). Isaiah has mentioned it before in chapter 55:1-5. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both who use this same phrase, also call it “the New Covenant.”

“‘Look, the days are coming’ – this is the Lord’s declaration - ‘When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt – a covenant they broke even though I had married them’ – the Lord’s declaration. ‘Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days’ – the Lord’s declaration. ‘I will place My instruction within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying: Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them’ – the Lord’s declaration. ‘For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.’” Jeremiah 31:31-34

It is important to note that (what we refer to as) the “New Testament” translates in Hebrew: B’rit Hadashah (New Covenant). The close connection between “everlasting covenant” and “new covenant” in today’s chapter reminds us that the “newness” of the New Covenant is the quality of freshness and fulfillment. It is not that God abandons what He had been doing with Israel in the “old” and begins afresh with the Church in the “new.” Rather, He brings to the forefront what had been there all along in the “old” yet was not understood. Several features of the everlasting, or “new,” covenant are underlined in today’s chapter; together, they lead to the conclusion that all who believe in Messiah Jesus and follow Him by faith, alone, are “a people the Lord has blessed.” (61:9)

Jesus took the Passover cup and said,

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you,” Luke 22:20

Jesus declared Himself (and His ministry) to be the consummation of a historical process of prediction and preparation. He saw today’s passage as a crucial one in setting the terms and mandate of His own mission. Following His baptism and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus entered His hometown synagogue, where, armed with Isaiah 58:6, He declared himself as the fulfillment of today’s passage. (Luke 4:17-21). Strangely, these bold words were not what made people want to kill Jesus. It was His recalling to their memory how God had shown mercy to faithful Gentiles and not to unfaithful Israel.

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