Sunday, May 2, 2021

PEACE, BEAVER! - Isaiah 61 Devotional #6

 
"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor ..."
– Isaiah 61:1-2a (NIV)
 
"...One of the leopards approached Aslan and said, "Sire, there is a messenger from the enemy who craves audience."

"Let him approach," said Aslan.  The leopard went away and soon returned leading the Witch's dwarf.

"What is your message, Son of Earth?" asked Aslan.

"The Queen of Narnia and Empress of the Lone Islands desires a safe conduct to come and speak with you," said the dwarf, "on a matter which is as much to your advantage as to hers."

"Queen of Narnia, indeed!" said Mr. Beaver. "Of all the cheek ..."

"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan. "All names will soon be restored to their proper owners."

(From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe {1950}. Chapter 13. C.S. Lewis.)
* * *

My most cherished stories -- books and movies -- have always been the classics. But especially those featuring the displaced protagonist in a long and bitter struggle to reclaim what is rightfully his (or hers).  This formula was especially popular with nineteenth-century novelists, handing us many exceptional tales such as: 

Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace (1880)
The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain (1881)
Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope Hawkins (1894)

Of course, C.S. Lewis's allegory The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was "based on a true story" ... the greatest of all time ... which was Jesus' coming to Earth to reclaim what was rightfully His -- the human race.  Just as the white witch, Jadis, had illegitimately crowned herself "Queen of Narnia" and oppressed Aslan's people, our enemy of old, Satan, fashioned himself "Ruler of Earth," confiscating all that belonged to God's children: life, liberty, happiness ... everything. 

We have hung out for many weeks in the opening verse of Isaiah 61, where Jesus (in His Luke 4 reading) announces His ministry to free the poor, the brokenhearted, the bound, and the desperate.  

BUT HE DOESN'T STOP THERE, HALLELUJAH!  He goes on to tell what these newly freed captives will RECLAIM.

See, Jesus' audience that day had no trouble understanding what was meant by "to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor." It is a clear reference to the Levitical "Year of Jubilee" -- when slaves must be released to their rightful life of freedom, and when properties must be released to revert to their rightful owners.

"And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family." (Leviticus 25:10, NKJV)

It was so named "the Year of Jubilee," not because it was to last for just one year, after which all those slaves could be recaptured and properties seized once again.  NO, rather, it was the year when all those people and properties should become -- in the words of Abraham Lincoln -- "then, thenceforth, and forever free."  Or, as Aslan put it, it was the year when "all names [would] ... be restored to their proper owners."

The Apostle John writes, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (I John 3:1a, NKJV)

And Peter: "Once you were nobody. Now you are God's people." (I Peter 2:10a, CEV)

As the Jews sing at Passover, "Dayenu!" -- meaning, "it would have been enough" -- if God had just set us free from Egypt.  But He has done so much more.  Whereas Isaiah 61:1 is the Red Sea crossing out of captivity, verse 2 is the Jordan crossing into the promised land.  Where verse 1 springs us from the "Queen of Narnia's" prison, verse 2 restores us to our rightful place from the dawn of creation -- as God's own people.  Not just for one blessed year, but henceforth and forever.  Amen.

Once again, let's remember that Jesus started this whole Isaiah 61 / Luke 4 ministry ... just to hand us the reins.  "Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21b, NASB)

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, thank you for Your amazing grace, which not only freed me from sin, but also restored me to my rightful inheritance as a child of God! Let me never lose sight of my commission, but rather light within me an ever-increasing flame of passion to carry on Your ministry of modeling and proclaiming the Isaiah 61 message of deliverance and reconciliation to all those You send my way.
In Jesus' name. Amen"

---
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 5/2/2021.

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