“and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3
Jesus did not die on the cross solely for our sins, though His main purpose was to save mankind. He died to set us free, to bring healing, to break the curses, to reconcile man to God, and the list goes on.
Something significant happened on that cross. Though a cross is a common instrument of torture for the Romans in those days, this cross was (and still is) special. It was a cross which was an instrument used to demonstrate God’s love to mankind. It was because of what was done on that cross, that we may have life, and have it to the abundance.
The prophet Isaiah says that Jesus came to give us a divine exchange. First, He came to give us beauty for ashes. Ashes are the leftovers after everything is burnt. Going through the fire may be painful, and it does produce ashes. Ashes are not beautiful, but God promises to give us beauty for ashes. This is the beauty that comes forth only from brokenness. This beauty is attractive. It is the beauty of the Lord which draws people to Him. There is this anointing that brings forth fragrance, but only when the alabasters jar is broken. You cannot plead for the beauty of this anointing without being willing to be broken.
Jesus also exchanges the oil of gladness instead of mourning. The oil, again, speaks of the anointing. The oil is usually poured from the head, and it flows to the toe. Anointing speaks of a new level of authority. The anointing changes lives. So many of us have been mourning, and God says that enough is enough. In the presence of God there is joy, peace, freedom, and love. It is time to decide whether we want to continue mourning or to receive the oil of gladness that He so freely gives.
Lastly, Jesus came to exchange our garments. Garments speak about identity. It is who we are. It is what we clothe ourselves with. How you dress can more or less describe the person you are. Jesus has come to exchange our spirit or garment of despair for the garments of praise. The truth is, you do not praise only when everything is going well. Like it or not, true praise and worship comes from brokenness. It’s so easy to sing praises to God when all is well, but will you praise when you feel that everything is against you? What many people do not realize is the power that lies behind this powerful tool – praise. Whereas despair gets us deeper into depression; praise will get us OUT of depression and into the victory that God has for us.
Whatever that God does in our lives, the ultimate purpose is always to glorify His name. When God chooses to use us in any way, it is never to build our own platforms. When God allows us to go through difficult times, it is so that people will know that He is a miracle working God. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He did it so that the people may know that God has sent Him. (John 11:40-42). Similarly, when God offers us something much better than what we have, it is for the display of His splendor. The bible says that we will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. It simply means that we will be firmly rooted in God, displaying the handiwork of God through the fruits of our lives. But first, we must be sure in what we are rooted in, and the condition of the ground. Are we rooted in God, or in our own emotions and will? What kind of a tree are you? Remember, no good tree can bear bad fruit and vice-versa. Is your ground good soil, or among thorns and rocks?
Whenever we trade in something, be it a car, a mobile phone, or anything, we trade in something of value. Though it may seem as if God does not know how to trade in things of value, what God rejoices most is to see His children living in victory. That is why He is so willing so take in something which seems so worthless in the human eyes for something priceless. God knows how to trade in alright. In Hebrews 12:2 it is said “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It is the joy of saving many sons through the cross. It is the joy of seeing hell empty and heaven populated. It is the joy of seeing God’s original plan restored. God’s plan is to trade one Son for many sons. Will you be one of His sons today?