“…the Lord hath anointed me…to give unto them beauty for ashes…” Isaiah 61:1, 3 KJV
Isaiah 61 is described as ‘The year of the Lord’s favour’ passage (ESV) and that’s because throughout the entire chapter Isaiah is describing what the Lord is going to do through him for the people of Zion. Everything he mentions are acts that will bestow favour upon all those who are willing to accept it. These promises are still available for us now, if we believe and accept the favour of the Lord.
God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), which means just because Isaiah is gone, it doesn’t mean the promises in this passage died with Him; these promises come through a different source – Jesus Christ. God wants to replace all the ruins and residues that have been left in our hearts and souls with qualities that give Him deep satisfaction and pleasure of relationship with us. The beauty He will give is not just skin deep, it’s not even just soul deep, but it’s a spiritual beauty. 1 Peter 3:4 tells us that a gentle and quiet spirit is something that has unfading beauty and is precious to God, but this type of spirit can only be given by the Lord Himself.
It is not that a person cannot be beautiful, charming and “successful” without the Lord, but there is a specific type of beauty that is given, not in addition to or on top of, but instead of the ashes. When we go through difficult times, there is always a mark or a scar that has been left behind, either in our hearts, souls or minds, but when Jesus comes in, He doesn’t cover up the marks, He completely removes them and in their place leaves a type of beauty that is influenced by the Holy Spirit.
Through this passage God wants us to stop trying to fix ourselves; there is no need to feign happiness and joy, but just allow Him to replace our ashes with His beauty and there will be no need to pretend. He wants to bestow the favour of His beauty upon us, all we have to do is let go of the ashes.