logo Living Water Christian Fellowship logo
Home Recent Sermon Multimedia Sermons News & Events Our Vision Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

"All Decked Out: A Deity who Delights in Us"

Jan.4, 2015 Is.61:10-62:5


There is one Christmas carol that does not reflect the exuberance and upbeat character of some of the others. Written by Christina Rossetti in 1872, it goes like this: "In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, long ago." Now, to be fair to the author, the whole carol doesn't stay that somber: it has tender imagery of Jesus' mother worshipping "the beloved with a kiss", and closes inviting us to give Jesus, in our poverty, what we can - our heart. There is some real warmth to it. But that first verse! It IS pretty bleak - frosty wind, earth hard as iron, frozen water, snow piling up...

Yet to be honest, sometimes after the Christmas season has passed, many people find themselves trapped in the January blues. Christmas has come and gone yet that present we so eagerly awaited now doesn't seem so special anymore. Perhaps we've already spent time in the returns lineup to get the money back for it. Or we're staggered by the credit card statement that reveals the excesses of our Christmas spending. Or we're aghast at the weigh scales that reveal the excess of our gastric consumption. Maybe our family get-togethers were marred by conflict or unkind words. Cousin Mabel had trouble hiding her dislike for that uniquely-coloured scarf we bought her in the gift exchange. Somehow the expenditure of cash and trouble taken to organize and prepare for gatherings hasn't worked to bring people together - instead we've ended up further apart.

Or, maybe it's just the weather weighing on us - short days, long nights, batteries that die and engines that won't start because of the cold, driveways to shovel and cars to clean off...It can all be a bit discouraging. We secretly wish we could have snuck into our neighbours' suitcases and been whisked away to sunnier climes.

We pick up Isaiah's prophecy at a time when the Israelites were feeling desolate and forgotten. The Assyrians conquered most of Judah in Isaiah's lifetime. About 733 BC the neighbouring kings of Israel (to the north) and Aram (to the northeast) had tried to pressure Judah into joining them in a coalition to resist the Assyrian superpower. The king of Judah had instead asked the Assyrian tyrant for help, a move condemned by the prophet Isaiah; Assyria obligingly conquered Israel and Aram about 721 BC, leaving Judah unprotected, so the Assyrians next walked right up to Jerusalem in 701 BC. The people of Judah would pay for rejecting God's direction when in 586 BC they were conquered by Babylon and removed to exile, with the Temple built by Solomon being totally demolished.

In the latter chapters of his book, it is to the exiles that Isaiah, who is given a prophetic preview of these future developments, speaks words of comfort and encouragement. Their dreams had been shattered and they felt very low, probably devoid of hope. Various phrases in the context hint at this. 40:2 "hard service...she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins"; 49:19 "you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste"; 54:4 "the reproach of your widowhood"; 61:7 speaks of the people's "shame" and "disgrace"; 62:8 refers to how the Lord gave their "grain as food for their enemies" and how the foreigners drank "the new wine for which you have toiled" - their efforts had been fruitless, the conquerors had enjoyed the produce they worked so hard to cultivate.

Note from our Scripture reading the beginning of 62:4 - "No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate." Isaiah is prophesying to the exiles far away in Babylon some time in the future after 586 BC; that's exactly how they felt - deserted, desolate. "Desolate" basically means alone, lonely, barren; "deserted" is worse - you're not just alone, you've been abandoned or forsaken by someone else, rejected, ditched, dumped. You've been made to feel cast-off, worthless, unwanted by that other person. Such experiences are painful and leave us wallowing in low self-esteem, wondering if we really ARE worthless, if anyone will ever love us or consider us valuable, special.

Early on in his ministry, the prophet had warned the people about this impending judgment on account of their sin. Spurning God by worshipping idols and oppressing the poor, they would find themselves spurned, deserted. Is 6:10f "'Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes...' Then I said, 'For how long, O Lord?' And he answered: 'Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged...'" They rejected God and let their hearts become tough and calloused - THAT'S why they eventually would be desolate, deserted.

So, as we examine some delightful word pictures describing what God's going to do for His people, don't forget the setting in which Isaiah is prophesying this: to exiles in Babylon far away from their homeland who have lost everything, whose prospects are very bleak, who turned away from God until it was too late and they lost everything, not just their goods and houses, but also their homeland.


Through the prophet, the Lord promises SALVATION: 61:10 "garments of salvation", 62:1 "her salvation like a blazing torch". We've just celebrated the birth of Jesus: why did the angel tell Joseph to name him that? Because, Mt 1:21, "He will SAVE His people from their sins." When Joseph and Mary present the baby in the Temple 40 days after his birth, how does the devout man Simeon describe this baby? Luke 2:30f "For my eyes have seen YOUR SALVATION, which you have prepared in the sight of all people..." God's rescue or deliverance comes to us bodily in the form of Jesus our Saviour, the perfect sinless sacrifice destined to become the propitiation for our transgressions.

As we read on in Isaiah, we see emphasized three aspects of this salvation as it relates to us: CLEARED UP, COMMITTED TO, and CHERISHED. This is how God encourages us when we're feeling deserted and desolate.

First, CLEARED UP. A prominent word in this passage is RIGHTEOUSNESS, which can also be translated "justified", vindicated, things are 'put right'. 61:10 "He has...arrayed me in a robe of righteousness..." 61:11 "the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations." 62:1 "...I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn..." 62:2 "The nations will see your righteousness..."

In one sense, God will make people righteous in their attitude, their behaviour, so they won't be unfaithful in their worship life or immoral in their behaviour and their business life. But when the Babylonians punished them extra cruelly, they had paid "double" for their sins (40:2); so in this sense God will vindicate them, deal out revenge and justice to the enemies who oppressed them. In both ways, in their inner character and their outward circumstances, God's righteousness and justice will be seen.

Terminology of being "clothed with garments of salvation and arrayed in a robe of righteousness" fits in well with the New Testament's description of what Jesus did for us at the cross. Rom 13:14 "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Gal 3:27 "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Php 3:8f "that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

With the colder weather, you wouldn't think of stepping outside without putting on your coat, a hat, boots, mitts, and scarf. Jesus has provided for us a "robe of righteousness": do we consciously step into that each day before interacting with others? He has graciously cleared up the debt we owed God for our sins.


We've been "put right" with God through Jesus, our shameful mess and guilt cleared up; when we trust in Him, God also commits Himself to us in covenant relationship.

The most permanent and binding relationship humans make with each other is that of marriage. So God uses the language of marriage to describe how definitely He will give Himself to His people. 62:4f "your land [will be called] Beulah ("Married"), for your land will be married.As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you..." NLT "Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride." God here is promising the people in exile that He will bring them back to their homeland in Palestine. This began to occur under Cyrus before 530 BC, also with Ezra about 458 BC and Nehemiah about 445 BC.

In the New Testament, the focus shifts from solely the Jewish race being God's witness to the nations to the Church (including Gentiles) being the ones who will spread the news of God's grace, glory, and faithfulness. Communion are the symbols of Jesus pledging Himself to us, much as a ring symbolizes a husband's pledge to his wife. Luke 22:19 "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.""

Are you secure in God's commitment to you? Do you feel like you're not enough with just that, that you need to add something else alongside of God's approval in order to be "enough"? Some of us got some nice "stuff" for Christmas. I remember as a boy getting some Fred Flintstone toy cars for my older brothers that I ended up playing with more than they did! Or the monster-making machine which would warm up little cubes of plastic until they unfolded into dinosaurs, then you would put them back into a plunger-chamber and compress them back into little cubes again. Great fun.

Unfortunately our fascination with the latest "toys" follows us into adulthood so we become addicted to buying the latest gadgets, the nicest cars, or even pricier items. But when we die, "it all goes back in the box". Our "stuff" doesn't make us a better person, somehow more significant in the cosmic scale. Our core significance comes from knowing God loves us, gave Himself for us, that we matter to Him. Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."" His commitment to us gives us that security we deeply crave.


God has CLEARED UP our account owing and put us right with Himself, thanks to Jesus' blood shed to cleanse us from sin. He COMMITS Himself to us, pledging to be faithful, so we are "enough" in Him, secure in relationship with Him rather than having to have our lives bolstered up by material things. And he CHERISHES us, delights in us.

Did you catch that strand running through Isaiah's prophecy? 61:10 The Lord has clothed me and arrayed me "as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Few things are more beautiful than a bride dressed up in her gown and adornments at a wedding! The groom is singularly set apart, made to look special by what he wears. Together they draw your attention. 61:11 "the Sovereign Lord will make...praise spring up before all nations." His people will glorify Him by their presenting Him well. 62:1 Zion's righteousness "shines out like the dawn"; v2 "The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your GLORY..." V3 "You will be a crown of splendour in the LORD's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God." ESV "You shall be a CROWN OF BEAUTY in the hand of the Lord..." NLT "the Lord will hold you in His hand for all to see - a SPLENDID CROWN in the hand of God." Are you starting to see how much God wants to "showcase" His people, display their beauty for maximum effect? Zechariah 9:16 "They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown." If you're a Christian, you're a little walking reflector of God's beauty and glory and goodness, sparkling for Him like a priceless jewel.

Verses 4 and 5 hint at God's sheer delight in those who are His: "But you will be called Hephzibah ("My Delight is in Her")...for the LORD will take delight in you...as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." Does a groom seem happy this woman is giving herself to him? Is he full of anticipation for the intimacy and pleasures they'll share the wedding night? Is he thankful they're going to get to exclusively spend the rest of their lives together? You bet! No other person on earth is more special, more important to him at that point. The groom cherishes, values his bride, finds her simply delight-ful. That's the metaphor (word-picture) God's book uses for how much God delights in those who belong to Him. The Lord finds believers absolutely adorable, beautiful, delightful - like that couple rejoicing as their little daughter or son takes their first steps. "Yay! Well done! You can do it!" Hear him cheering you on and expressing how much He treasures you deep in your spirit.


As believers, God "decks us out" in garments of salvation, arrays or clothes us in robes of righteousness. We want to share that blessing with others, help them experience God's love in practical ways. When others are despondent, desolate, deserted, that's an opportunity for us to share with them how the Lord has drawn us close in Jesus.

Homeless people are some of the most desolate folks in our society. Twelve years ago, according to LivingLight News,, Greg Russinger and his friends asked T-Bone, a homeless man from Ventura California, what they could do to help. He responded, "If I had clean clothes, I think people would treat me like a human being." The simplicity of his reply spurred them into action. They immediately took T-Bone to a laundromat and did his laundry for free. Since then, what began as a kind response to one person's need is now a growing movement called Laundry Love. An expression of the founders' Christian faith, it now has over 100 locations in the US, helping homeless people and those who struggle financially to access free laundry services - and more.

Another grateful recipient, Victoria Mitchell, was unemployed and living in her car with her infant daughter when she first heard about Laundry Love. The volunteers helped her get an apartment. Now Mitchell has a stable job. and remains friends with the volunteers. As one volunteer explains, it's a practical way to follow the Biblical mandate to love your neighbour. She says, "This is probably the most meaningful thing that we I do, because we're taking our love outside of the walls of church." Helping others get decked out, adorned, and provided for in the process. Let's pray.