Oaks of Righteousness


Isaiah 61 – The Year of the Lord’s Favor
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3  and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy 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. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.


Isaiah 61 is a famous prophecy and notable Old Testament scripture because Jesus used it to proclaim his mission in Luke chapter four. While teaching at the meeting place in Nazareth, Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah and read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

To his audience living under the imperial oppression of Rome, this was an appealing and inspiring choice of scripture. The original audience of Isaiah’s time was also living under the oppression of larger kingdoms, the glory days of King David and Israel’s favor a distant memory. But Jesus was not talking about a military operation, nor even a political one. Jesus preached of a new kingdom not of this world: the Kingdom of God.

As Jesus followers and as his literal body still here on earth, Isaiah 61 is not just a prophecy. It is an anointing. The Spirit of the Lord is upon you. He has appointed you to proclaim good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed.

The Kingdom of God is at hand. This is the year of the Lord’s favor, right now!

If you follow the way of Christ, you are anointed. Through Christ, you have been clothed in priestly garments of hopeful praise and a crown of beauty. You are an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor and glory.

Action Step

Chances are, you don’t feel like a great oak of righteousness.

You’re wrong. You are sustained by the living water of the Holy Spirit.
Let that sink in today.  Really ponder it.

With that understanding, consider the areas of your life where you are trying to live by your own strength. And then consider where you can plant seeds in the name of God. On your own, you can do nothing good. But with God, even the tiniest of seeds can grow into righteous oaks.
Maybe that seed is an encouraging text message to someone that has been on your mind. Or it’s an extended time for contemplative prayer. Maybe it’s apologizing for gossip or a harsh word. Or tithing five dollars more than usual. Grab coffee with a friend. Better yet, join a small group and intentionally seek Godly community. Maybe give each of your children your 100% undivided attention for thirty minutes today; if you don’t have children, give a kid you know thirty minutes of your time, no agenda. Go for a walk or relax. Your emotional health can often be indicative of your spiritual health.

Pray about it if nothing comes to mind; the Holy Spirit will illuminate a path.
Whatever “it” is, especially if it seems small and insignificant, it will please and honor God if motivated by love.


Pray for mercy that you have tried (and failed) to be the master of your fate, the controller of your life.

Ask God to renew your passion for his righteousness. To make you feel like an oak.

Because you are.
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