Thursday, May 4, 2023

QUEEN OF DIAMONDS, KING OF HEARTS - Isaiah 61 Devotional #28

"... The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion ... I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God ... as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
– Isaiah 61:1b-10c
"Oh, then, some pledge of your indulgence, some object which came from you and may remind me that I have not been dreaming; something you have worn, and that I may wear in my turna ring, a necklace, a chain."

"Will you depart if I give you that you demand ... you will leave France ... return to England?"

"I will, I swear to you."

"Wait, then, wait."

Anne of Austria re-entered her apartment, and came out again almost immediately, holding a rosewood casket in her hand, with her cipher encrusted with gold.

"Here, my Lord, here," said she, "keep this in memory of me."

Buckingham took the casket ... and faithful to the promise he had made, he rushed out of the apartment.

- From The Three Musketeers (1844), by Alexandre Dumas, Père
* * *

Counted among the greatest novels ever written, The Three Musketeers is a fast-paced thriller brimming with romance, betrayal, palace intrigue, and derring-do.

In this pivotal scene, which occurs in the belly of the Louvre fortress, residence of Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria, she entertains, reluctantly at first, the advances of the Duke of Buckingham.  But at last, casting caution to the winds, she slips him a tiny box that contains a fabulous ribbon brooch with twelve diamond studsa token of love from her husband, Louis.

It was this small act of unfaithfulness that catalyzed events ultimately costing reputations and lives ... even precipitating the Anglo-French war, with the siege of La Rochelle.

Today's segment of the Isaiah 61 prophecy focuses on the jubilant response of Messiah's followersthe Blessed Mourners we've been studyingto the central truth of verse 10 that we covered last time: being clothed in His salvation and wrapped in His righteousness.  

And, although we've seen these faithful ones, earlier in the chapter, being endowed with joy: first, in exchange for their mourning, and again as part of their "firstborn inheritance" ... this time it's different.  This is the Habakkuk-3 type of love-joythe kind that wells up from within and bursts forth in response to who we are in the Beloved, regardless of our station or circumstance:
Though the fig tree does not bud
   and there are no grapes on the vines,
Though the olive crop fails
   and the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen
   and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.
   - Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV

In fact, the prophet Habakkuk's words (7th century B.C.) match those of Isaiah 61 (8th century B.C.): "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God ... as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

So, the metaphor is that we flaunt this boundless love-joywhich is to be found in Christjust as a bride adorns herself with the glittering jewelry she has received from the bridegroom on her wedding day.  She's head-over-heels in love, and the world must know and rejoice with her!

But then comes the sad and fateful scene ... where we find the exquisite royal bride, Anne of Austria, trysting in a dark passageway with the enemy of her homelandthe enemy of her husband and lover, King Louisand handing over the priceless diamond jewelry he'd gifted to her.  The same jewelry she had worn with delight just twelve years ago.

Anne of Austria's romantic feelings for her husband didn't evaporate in a day, or even a year.  But when she failed to guard her heart, it was simply a matter of timea "slow fade."

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away.
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
And thoughts invade, choices made,
A price will be paid when you give yourself away.
People never crumble in a day.
- From Slow Fade, by Casting Crowns (2007)

Let us ponder the heartbroken words of our Lord in Revelation 2: "And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works...."

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father,
Thinking back to my first love, when my heart brimmed with joy like a bride in shining jewelry ... I can only echo the words of the songwriter:
'Help me, Jesus; I know what I am. / Now that I know that I've needed You so / Help me, Jesus, my soul's in Your hand.'
I repent of my unfaithful neglect. In Your tender mercy, take me by the hand and lead me back.  May I know that first love, do those first works, and rejoice once again in God my Savior, King of Hearts!
In Jesus' name. Amen."

Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 5/4/2023.

Copyright © Brad Fenichel 2023 All Rights Reserved

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