"...[T]o grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins. They shall raise up the former devastations. They shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." - Isaiah 61:3-4
When God's Anointed one comes (v. 1), the Messiah, he will bring beauty, joy, and praise to the believing remnant of Israel. The remnant will be called "oaks of righteousness" and "the planting of Yahweh." God will be glorified by this. Then the remnant will begin to restore Jerusalem. They will turn the rubble into magnificent plazas and buildings. The nation will have a greatness never yet experienced. We now know the Messiah is Jesus. He associated himself with this passage in Luke 4. Because Israel rejected him at his first coming, the total fulfillment of this prophecy must wait until his second coming. But it will be fulfilled.
Applying this to my own life, I like the idea of being a church age "oak of righteousness." In Aotearoa New Zealand we can say "totara of righteousness." The righteousness we have is not from ourselves but is the righteousness God has freely given to us on the basis of Jesus and his finished work on the cross. As oaks of righteousness, we can now "build up the ancient ruins." We can make a difference in our communities, building up things that are broken, especially lives and families. I believe God is rebuilding lives and families through our worldview camps, and I want to see it happen more in our local churches. We must go to work rebuilding and restoring.
Father, bless our camp this weekend and help us to glorify you. May the leaders and campers be oaks of righteousness who rebuild and restore the biblical worldview foundation in New Zealand. Give us good health and good weather. Be with any camper who is shy or homesick. May we love one another by the power of your Spirit. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman