Zion Baptist Church
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Baptist Missionary Association of America
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Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:3
     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.
     The author of the book Isaiah was an eight-century B.C. prophet. The book is divided into two parts. Chapters 1-35 deal with the future promised judgment of Israel based on the Abrahamic covenant of judgment when Israel worshiped other gods and the judgment of the nations that did not bless Israel. Genesis 12:3, And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Chapters 40-66 deal with comfort in that God will allow the people of Israel to return from exile and the promise of God's servant (Jesus Christ) to provide salvation for all people, ending with the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.
     The major theological contribution of the book of Isaiah is that Christ is depicted as the "Promised Servant of the Lord." The "Promised Servant of the Lord" who commits no sin and paid the price for the redemption of all people.
     Our theme today "Beauty for Ashes" is based on Isaiah 61:3. The ashes in this passage represent the destroying of former beauty and the tragic end to former loveliness. They are the beauty and loveliness who at one time were sweet and delightful in our lives, but through tragedy, the beauty and loveliness were made bitter and sorrowful. Ashes in Scripture are a symbol of mourning and repentance.
     God replaces the bitterness and sorrow with oil of joy and a garment of praise. Psalm 23:5, Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over, speaks of God anointing the head with oil. Oil of joy has reference to joy of the heart. Oil represents the kind, sweet, comforting words that give encouragement and new hope to the heart of the wounded. It refers to the healing power and the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
     Garment of praise describes the radiance, the happiness, and the sweetness that fill the heart and the life of the child of God who loves the things of God, and lives for the glory of God. This garment is entirely from heaven, and must not be tainted in any way by human works, merits, or activities. The Lord wants to replace our spirit of heaviness with praise.
     "Trees of righteousness" and "Planting" is when the people of God are restored, and are again growing and fruitful.
     Isaiah 61:3 is relevant for today as it is God's desire to replace the ashes of loss, bitterness, and sorrow with the beauty of joy, new hope, healing, and strength to the heart. God wants His Holy Spirit and His Word to comfort our heavy spirits. With God's help, we can be restored, move forward with our lives, and again become fruitful and productive. God's Word reaffirms that there can be "Beauty for Ashes."

3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867 - Directions