by Dr Pauline Simonsen
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As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5b).
Read Isaiah 61:10 – 62:5
Rejected, deserted, desolate …
It’s a story often depicted in novels and movies: the Cinderella story of the poor and rejected woman found by the prince, dressed in magnificent clothes and transformed, given a new name and life. It’s the ultimate ‘makeover’.
For Old Testament Israel, this story brings meaning far beyond Hollywood sentimentality. Today’s reading from Isaiah carries profound hope for an Israel devastated after exile in Babylon, where they felt abandoned and rejected by God, forlorn, desolate. Once the loved consort of Yahweh, Israel’s splendour had vanished.
But now God delights in restoring his beloved Israel, re-clothing her in righteousness and glory like a gorgeous bride. God will take his beautiful bride to himself again, and Israel will be a glory among the nations, ‘a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand’.
The person talking here is the Anointed One of Isaiah 61, whom God would send to do his work of salvation. We now know this person to be Jesus Christ, who in the Capernaum synagogue announces that he is God’s Anointed One, the fulfilment of Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:18–21). Messiah Jesus came to restore Israel to their God – if they would let him. ‘He came to his own, but his own –people did not receive him. Yet to those who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:11,12).
That’s me. That’s you. Suddenly Israel’s restoration and glory becomes ours through Jesus. Believers in Jesus become the central figure in this Cinderella story to end all Cinderella stories. We, in our lostness, our personal desolation, sitting in our ashes, have been taken up by the royal King who comes to claim us. He washes us in baptism and re-clothes us in righteousness and glory, gives us new names of hope and beauty, and takes us to himself as his bride to love and cherish forever.
The truly wonderful thing about these verses is the great joy that the Anointed One has in doing all this. It is the Son’s delight to do this redeeming, transforming work for his Father and for us all.
We are ‘the redeemed of the Lord’, his crowning glory, shining to the whole world because of the Son’s work on the cross for us. What a makeover!
Amazing Grace: how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see! Thank you, gracious Lord! Amen.
Pauline leads a Bible college and offers spiritual direction in Palmerston North, New Zealand. She’s married to Roger – who is recently retired – and she enjoys having him home a bit more. When she gets some free time, Pauline loves cooking and reading and likes nothing better than sitting with a cat on her lap and watching the birds in her garden.