– Isaiah 61:1b-7b
Tom stammered a moment, in a pathetic confusion, then got it out --
"To crack nuts with!"
- The Prince and the Pauper, Chapter XXXII (1881) Mark Twain
On our fair ocean voyage through the Messianic 61st chapter of Isaiah, we found ourselves last time at a primary port of call: verse 7, which happens to be the midway point of the nine verses (3-11) that enumerate His promises to the "Blessed Mourners" -- we who are to carry on our Lord's work till He returns.
And, as we noted, this most precious verse brings to light the nature of our inheritance in Jesus Christ, the Firstborn, Who is Himself the Heir of all things (Psalms 2:7-8). And what may that nature be? Simply put, that we ourselves become firstborn and inherit as such the firstborn's "double portion" -- because we're IN HIM. That's right, ALL things for life and godliness. And the verse breaks it down further into three categories of inheritance: honor (which we already explored), possession, and joy. Let's talk about possession....
"... In their portion.... in their land," it says, "they shall possess double." (verse 7b) But what "land" are we talking about?
Under the Old Covenant, God has much to say about land -- the land promised to Abraham and his descendants, which promise was fulfilled in the days of Joshua. Having brought His people out of Egypt (symbolic of Sin), through the Red Sea (which stood for salvation and baptism), Almighty God settled them in the "Promised Land," where they were to possess whatever the sole of their feet laid claim to (Joshua 1:3-6).
And, make no mistake, God's gifts and callings are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). He didn't feed His promises through some sort of giant shredder when Jesus arrived on the scene. In fact, the ONLY thing He did shred was the veil that kept sinful man out of the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:51), hallelujah! As for the PEOPLE of Israel, they still figure in His end-time plan. (Read Romans chapter 11.) As does the LAND of Israel. (Read The Book of Revelation.)
But now that we've got all that straight ... Isaiah 61 is indisputably a New Covenant prophecy. We have that from the mouth of Christ Himself (Luke 4:21). Which means it has New Covenant meaning. INCLUDING the concept of LAND.
Having brought us out of Egypt (Sin), through the RED Sea of His precious blood, we now enter His promised land of REST. In fact, Father God devotes an entire chapter of the New Testament -- Hebrews 4 -- to explaining the promised LAND we now enter, as being His place of REST. And Christ Himself used the analogy of REST in Matthew 11:28-30, where He speaks of entering a YOKE with Him (meaning, we have work to do!) and finding it easy, light, and restful.
What does it all mean?
"As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21) We keep coming back to that thought in our study of Isaiah 61 because we know that Jesus read the passage, set its fulfillment in motion, and then commissioned US -- His "Blessed Mourners" -- to continue its fulfillment until the end of the age.
But, though the task seems daunting, it is easy, light, and restful when we are IN HIM -- in His yoke. It is our inheritance, our possession, the Kingdom of God, our Great Commission, our life's labor in the fields of His harvest ... His LAND. His REST. Because He is carrying out that commission through us, IN US, as we are IN HIM, acting IN HIS NAME.
In the words of the old song:
"When we stand in the name of Jesus / Tell me who can stand before us.
When we stand in the name of Jesus / We have the victory,"
Which brings us to that giant in the world of literature, Mark Twain. When Twain published his first great work of historical fiction, The Prince and the Pauper, little did he know what a striking allegory it was to God's glorious New Covenant of grace.
In this masterpiece of a novel, we see the nine-year-old prince of Wales -- soon to become King Edward VI -- leaving his royal palace to take on the form of a pauper dressed in rags, sharing the sufferings of the common people (his subjects), who in turn mocked him and refused to believe he was their prince. And, by doing this, the prince in turn enabled the true pauper boy, Tom Canty of Offal Court, to be clothed in his royal garments, inhabit his royal apartments, and even issue princely decrees, such as promoting a particularly loyal friend from earl to duke. Tom could do all of this because, when the prince BECAME Tom, Tom BECAME the prince and could act in his name.
And yet -- wonder of wonders! -- the punch line of Twain's story was the very thing our Lord would have us focus on today. When the true prince left Tom behind to act on his behalf, he left in his possession the most powerful weapon in the kingdom: the Great Seal of England. It had the power to enforce the king's law, to execute judgment on an enemy, to do wondrous things.
But poor Tom had no idea how to use the Great Seal. In fact, he didn't even know it was the Great Seal. What he did know, as we saw in our lead-in excerpt from the story, was that it functioned quite splendidly for cracking nuts!
O Blessed Mourner, think of it! Through the precious blood of Christ, we are privileged to be resting IN HIM beyond the veil, seated in the heavenly places of His firstborn inheritance, while living out His commission here on Earth, ambassadors of Heaven by His power and the authority of His Great Seal -- His NAME. We have power to tread on spiritual serpents and scorpions, on all the powers of the enemy in the name of Jesus. To make a DIFFERENCE.
And yet, how often do we utter the name of Jesus in prayer for ... cracking nuts? Prayers for ourselves only -- our needs, our comforts?
Why not pray ...
When I stand before You on that day, and You ask, 'How did you use the Great Seal of Heaven?' may my reply not be, 'To crack nuts with!' Instead, I ask, place Your yoke upon me and teach me. Together, may we work the fields of Your harvest, acting in the power of Jesus the Firstborn, speaking healing, deliverance, and salvation in Your name to all who are oppressed by the devil. Fulfilling the Isaiah 61 mandate.
In Jesus' name. Amen."
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 7/24/2022.
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