Monday, March 27, 2023

NERVES AFLAME - Isaiah 61 Devotional #27

"... The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion ... I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a groom puts on a turban, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
– Isaiah 61:1b-10
"I have one thing that counts, and which is my heart; it burns in my soul, it aches in my flesh, and it ignites my nerves: that is my love for the people and [Juan] Perón."
- María Eva "Evita" Duarte de Perón (1919-1952), First Lady of Argentina

Juan Domingo Perón ... thrice-elected, beloved and abominated ... president of Argentina. Rejecting the philosophies of both communism and capitalism (which, from his point of view, "both 'insectify' the individual by means of different systems"), he established instead the "Justicialist Party," whose principles are human dignity, freedom--for example, from corporate greed and exploitative labor conditions--and opportunity to rise out of poverty.

Whatever our opinions of Perón—regarding his questionable postulates, politics, and practices—may be, there is no denying that he threw his heart and soul into all he did, and he was able to accomplish some amazing things.  
From a Time Magazine article (Nov. 27, 1972):
"To his credit, Perón gave a sense of dignity to the working man for the first time in Argentine history.... Perón was able to raise wages and build hospitals, clinics and schools. He passed laws granting severance pay to discharged workers and extending social security; he also instituted the eight-hour day for farm laborers. Perón nationalized the British-owned Argentine railroads, retired the entire foreign debt, and by 1947 boasted a fivefold increase in industrial production during his regime."
Perón met his future wife, "Evita" Duarte, at a performing-arts charity event to benefit the survivors of a devastating earthquake that had claimed 10,000 lives. Evita was no stranger to injustice and heartache. Born into poverty, she was an illegitimate child (as were all her siblings), shunned and shamed by the community. Determined to rise above circumstance, she had made a successful incursion into the performing arts, which led to her participation at the charity event where she met Juan. And the rest is history!
Juan and Evita's shared passion for justice and the plight of the poor was a magnetic bond. The ensuing year would see him imprisoned by his political opponents, and then released after mass demonstrations by his supporters. The two were married on the following day and, seven months later, Evita became first lady as her husband won his first presidential election.
From that moment until her tragic death from cancer eight years later, at age 33, Evita's flaming persona captured the heart of her Argentine people. Evita Perón led rallies and gave speeches to thousands. She is credited with the passage of a bill in 1947 granting women the right to vote. And through her Eva Perón Charitable Foundation, she channeled $100 million annually to healthcare and housing for the poor. Though she had never held elected office, Evita was given a no-holds-barred state funeral, as the nation mourned her passing ... and some even pressed to have her canonized as a saint.
So ... how does any of this relate to our Isaiah 61 devotionals?
Over the past 26 segments, we have attempted to scratch the surface of this rich prophetic chapter--though it would take many, many books to fully unpack its glorious message.
The two opening verses speak directly of Christ Jesus' arrival on the world stage. Then verse 2 quickly pivots the focus to what we have referred to as his body of "Blessed Mourners"those who are deeply appalled by the state of their world and have a passion for change. Over the next seven verses, our Lord describes every detail, every facet, of the plan He has for these Mourners to turn the world upside down through the power of His Spirit.
And we now reach the part where the prophecy wraps up. First, verse 10 summarizes the Mourners' joyful response to their Messiah's Covenant of Love and His Great Commission. And finally, verse 11 recapitulates His commitment to them until the end of the age.
For today’s segment, we will focus on one of the two points He is making in verse 10: the Covenant of Love. As the verse states, "... He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness ..."
Think about Evita Perón and her tragic backstory. And yet, rather than letting it define her, she harnessed the wounded, mournful state of her heart to compel action for the betterment of the poor and the outcast. As she stated in our opening quote, "I have one thing that counts, and which is my heart; it burns in my soul, it aches in my flesh, and it ignites my nerves: that is my love for the people and [Juan] Perón."
Why Juan Perón? Firstly, because he had the same love for his people. But also because he saw Evita when she was "invisible," when she was a lily trampled in the mud, and he cared enough to make her part of his world so they could change it together.
As Isaiah 61:10 reminds us, our Lord has clothed us with the garments of salvation (establishing His covenant with us) and wrapped us with a robe of righteousness (placing us in right standing with God, Who sees us as righteous in Christ).
Ponder these loving words to His people, Israel, in Ezekiel 16:
"I came by again and saw you, saw that you were ready for love and a lover. I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you. I, God, the Master, gave my word. You became mine. I gave you a good bath, washing off all that old blood, and anointed you with aromatic oils. I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. I gave you linen blouses and a fashionable wardrobe of expensive clothing. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments. Decree of God, the Master." (Ezekiel 16:8-14, MSG)
* * *

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father,
THANK YOU, THANK YOU for clothing me with salvation when I was naked in my sin, and for wrapping me in Your own righteousness, precious and beautiful. Hallelujah! Infuse me with vision, impel me to action
NERVES AFLAMEfor the accomplishment of Your Great Commission, the proclamation of Your message of life in abundance, light in the darkness, and the ushering in of Your eternal kingdom.
In Jesus' name. Amen."

Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 2/19/2023.

Copyright © Brad Fenichel 2023 All Rights Reserved

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