To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
(Isaiah 61:3 NKJV)
Isaiah 61 carries a powerful promise in the Old Testament. When the Messiah comes, sorrow will be replaced with joy. He promises “beauty for ashes”. Laying in ashes often signified the humbling of God’s people. A time of mourning for sins. Yet when Jesus comes, something miraculous happens. When we lay down our sorrow in the “epher” (the Hebrew word for ashes), God turns them into His “pheer” (which is Hebrew word for beauty). God can take our ash heaps and make something beautiful out of it. This is the promise of His Kingdom. That’s a beautiful picture, but how does that happen?
Firstly, beauty comes when we live a repented life. The wonder of it all is that total forgiveness follows repentance (1 John 1:9). Whatever the sin, the blood of Jesus is more than sufficient to cover it. There is no longer any need for animal sacrifices or sackcloth. It is done! Our relationship with the Father is restored. We cry, Abba, Father! How beautiful is that? And it’s all because of Jesus.
Secondly, beauty comes when we choose to live under grace and forgiveness, and not under condemnation. We see God not as a belligerent Father out to punish us or put fear into our lives. When we see Him for who He is in the loveliness of Jesus, we live a life of love and freedom. Grace beautifies us!
Thirdly, beauty comes from choosing to live a life of gratitude. When bad things happen to us, we have three choices. We can blame God, and turn away from Him. Or we can get angry that He is not solving our problem immediately. But here’s a third choice: that we see this troubled time as a means of shaping our character and growing strong in faith. He WILL see us through in His time! For He will bring beauty out of our ashes.
Ps Dr Philip Lyn 医生牧师