To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. ~Isaiah 61:3
For the last couple of weeks, an area three hours north of us has been completely ravaged by a wild fire. To date, This fire has devastated over 151,000 acres, decimated an entire city, displaced thousands of survivors, and left behind charred remains and ashes. Ashes are the remains of something that has been through an intense fire. The context of Isaiah 61:1-3 is the anointed message of God through His prophet messenger. In this message, God said He would give beauty for ashes. This morning, let us meditate on a thought that seems so incredulous: God giving beauty for ashes!
We see the prophet’s trumpet.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach…” Isaiah had the anointing of God on his life as a preacher. Preaching is when we “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up [our] voice like a trumpet, and shew [our] people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins,” Isaiah 58:1. Preaching is also meant to be a salve for an open wound. Isaiah was anointed to preach hope, help, and healing to those who were bound, broken, and bothered. Let us listen carefully when preaching helps us to see our Lord as the Great Physician for our lives.
We see the painful trial.
The people Isaiah preached to were going through the trial of affliction. The specific trials they were going through included loss of loved ones to persecution, captivity, and displacement. Peter describes our trials as “fiery trials.” Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were cast into a burning fiery furnace, Daniel 3:21-23. Trials make us uncomfortable. Trials are times of suffering. Trials can be very excruciating. We experience sorrow, heavy hearts, shed many tears, and ashes are left behind from the intensity of this fiery trial.
We see the precious transformation.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” God uses trials for His glory in our lives. First, just as the fiery furnace burns away dross from silver, the fiery trials burn away sin. Second, God gives us comfort as we go through this trial. God loves us, cheers us, and lifts us. Most importantly, God uses the fiery trial to change us. There is beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for heaviness. Darkness is turned to light! Beauty for ashes teaches us that God makes something beautiful out of a seemingly difficult situation. Beauty for ashes is God making something new and useful.
We see the profitable triumph.
“…That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Is there triumph after a fiery trial? Yes! A child of God who has gone through a fire draws closer to the Lord and is a testimony of God’s wonderful grace. A tree points upward. As trees of righteousness, we are set apart so that our lives are pointing upwards to the glory of God. God is glorified when we give Him absolute control and live a sold-out life to bring others to Him.
Yes, something good can come out of the fires of affliction. God gives beauty for ashes! Just as the fiery trial is God’s gift, the ending result is likewise God’s gift for our lives.
Have a beautified God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Romans 4-7