Meditations On The Messiah - Messiah The Transformer

by Ray Hawkins


A robbery has taken place. Indeed, a robbery is still taking place, but it is so very subtle, so well planned, and so skillfully carried out that most people are unaware that it has happened and is still happening.

The victim is the heart and mind of mankind, and the treasure is the knowledge of the transcendant, awe-inspiring, merciful God as shown in Tenach, the Old Testament.

The result is a moral and spiritual poverty that has produced despair and depravity.

The remedy is to rediscover God through the majestic mission of the Messiah, who can transform a plundered heart into a palace. His offer, which anyone with a sensitive heart for newness and love and beauty may eagerly grasp may be found recorded in the prophet Isaiah: " (He would) proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 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" (61:2,3).

"TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR ..." This sounds like the year of Jubilee – the wonder of redemption, debts paid, and a new start offered. Here is the Messiah's bounty to the bankrupt, His favour to the fallen and grace to the Godless. He announces hope, but His message has another side to it – the year of favour once rejected becomes the day of vengeance. It is not a pleasant prospect to fall into the hands of a holy and angry God.

"TO COMFORT ALL THAT MOURN" -- tears are the common lot of man, but it would be difficult to list a nation more subject to tears than Israel over the centuries. The city of peace has been a city of grief. The Western Wall was once named the Wailing Wall.

Isaiah says much about mourning, but he shows his readers the way to comfort. And whilst this is for all peoples, it is especially true for Israel. "Violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise … Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified" (60:18,20).

"TO GIVE UNTO THEM BEAUTY FOR ASHES" -- what is promised here is a truly lovely gesture by God, for ashes are a sign of mourning and defeat. And yet here the Messiah is saying that such people can discover a transformation that is miraculous.

In the historical account of one such transformation we may see what the Messiah has in mind. In the book of Esther is the story of Mordechai, one of the captives in the Babylonian provinces when Haman endeavoured to implement his plan of genocide. When Mordechai heard of this he rent his clothes and put dust and ashes on his head. He was in mourning, testimony to the fact that unless the Almighty did something to reverse the king's edict he and his nation were as good as dead.

But in the palace where the king could not sleep and so had the palace archives read to him, he found that the man who had earlier saved his life from murderers had not been rewarded, and that man was Mordechai. So he took the opportunity to make amends, and the result was that the man in torn clothes of mourning was transformed by a kingly robe and was led on the king's own horse through the streets in honour. Later even the plot of genocide was thwarted by the courage of Queen Esther and her kinsman Mordechai.

That is a cameo illustration of what happens to those whom the Messiah touches. Their ashes are replaced by festive garments, for the word 'beauty' can mean a head-dress, an embellishment. Thus we see God in and through the Messiah is intent upon making us beautiful.

"THE GARMENT OF PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS" -- the word for garment here denotes a covering and the implication is that the Messiah envelopes His people. When this happens grief is swallowed up in praise, an experience not manufactured or manipulated. Rather it is the fulfilment of a relationship and an unshakeable conviction of the efficacy of the sovereign grace of God. Such an encounter is entered into by the faith and obedience of the individual, though one day it will be the fulfilment of the eyes.

At that time some other beautiful events will take place. "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise" (Isaiah 43:21), therefore we would do well to "Give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (Isaiah 62:7).

There is a great longing in the hearts of many for this transforming event to take place, but we know not the time or season when the Lord will choose to bring it to pass. Until He does we are required to have a faith relationship with Him through His Word and Messiah. For the day of His favour is with us now in the personal realm, and we may all enter into it.