Isaiah 61:3                                                         

Called and Glory to Him
“To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” ( Isaiah 61:3 King James 2000 version)


After God trades in our ashes, mourning, and spirit of heaviness for beautiful things that will bless us, He gives His purpose for doing it, “that they might be called trees of righteousness…” Ah, a purpose for us! Continuing on, it says, “that He might be glorified,” which is a purpose for Him. Isn’t it beautiful how He calls us into His purpose and it is so very good?

Just like God has actively traded bad for good in us, He is now actively calling us trees of righteousness. It is all by His action, not our own. What God calls into reality, is real. It is. Even the word ‘planted’ implies an act of God, the work of His hands. We are His creation. This is an absolute for you and me.

In the time of the Bible, the trees referenced here could have had a trunk twenty-three feet in diameter. That's huge! They often represented a landmark and were considered an icon for strength and durability, a strong oak. Very often, these trees were the chosen spot for religious ceremonies, such as a sacrifice.

The tree is a picture of a deeply established root system that is well nourished and sustained under the perfect care of the LORD. This is not a young tree that bends to the winds, but a tall mighty tree. It is able to withstand weather and time because it is strong and lacks nothing. These things can be said of us, too when God does a work in us and we are rooted in Him.

“That they might be called trees of righteousness…” I want to stop on the word called for a moment. This word is what God calls us in truth and what other’s see in us.  We are called.  The reason others would see our roots in Chirst is because when the transformation that happens in us when we are obedient to the call would be evident. You would be so very different than those around people couldn’t miss it! “Wow, she must be a Christian,” they would observe.

We are not talking about the woman who says, “I’m a Christian,” but nobody knows them by that name because they are like a tree dried up without leaves and fruit with no evidence of a nourishing root system brining life to the tree.  We are talking about the woman that doesn’t need to say it at all and yet the evidence of Christ in her life people see.  They know without reservation that this woman is godly.  She is rooted because in her obedience to God, she is spending time in the Word and prayer; she is rooted.  She will be called a tree of righteousness.

I would love for my witness to always be so evident!  But, this kind of external witness start at home behind closed doors in obedience to our call.  It's a choice.

The result of a life planted firmly in the LORD is glory to Him. In Him we fulfill the very reason we were created. In Him we can bring Him glory. In turn, we are fulfilled and deeply rooted. God loves us and planned it to be a full circle like this!

The only thing left is to praise His name! Thank you, LORD for who you are, how you love, and what you do! Glory to your name! Amen!

by Andrea Simmons

Isaiah 61:3
“To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Joy for Mourning
“To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, King James 2000 version)

When Claire’s dad had an accident it left him in the hospital unconscious. There were large tubes stuffed down his throat and grass still in his hair. There was a contraption drilled into the sides of his skull with weights attached to the bottom of wires hanging up and over the top of the bed. Trust me; it was hard to look at. I could barely keep the composure. My body shook continuously and I didn’t sleep for four days. I was in shock. Then, one of my favorite aunts put her arm around me and said, “He’ll be OK.”

I wanted to scream at her.

No, he wouldn’t be OK, and he wasn’t.

She told me later that when she’d said that to me I gave her the saddest look she’d ever seen. (Did I mention I was holding back?) I had so much going on inside, it obviously showed on my face. I was in a state of mourning how our lives had been turned upside down. Could I say it felt more like being torn, shredded, and grated on sharp metal edges, all of which made me numb? That was a really hard time in my life that I thought would never end. I remember telling a cousin that taking care of him would have to become my joy, in a matter of speaking. If not, it would be the most miserable station.

Although, that marriage and difficult time in my life still seem to affect who I am today, I’m OK with it because God has been a good helper to me. Now is probably a good time to interject that I struggle just like everyone else with a lot of things. I struggle that people will not understand the reasons for my being divorced. And, there is simply the struggle of being divorced. I struggle with being a victim of abuse, and I strongly dislike that word. I struggle with the pain my oldest daughter has been through...

I am a broken sinner.

The good news is, I live under the umbrella of God’s forgiveness, grace, and salvation. I live in His Promises daily and, wow, am I glad I do! I see promises in His word, specifically in Isaiah 61:3 where He promises to trade the Israelites mourning for oil of joy.

I just love that.

The oil they speak of may have been olive oil that was poured over people at a celebration or festivity for a time of rejoicing. It made their skin soft and shiny. Having a great deal of oil symbolizes gladness, joy, prosperity, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The absence of it symbolizes mourning and poverty.

Again, many of these things are outwardly. But, God is also promising to change their insides. They will no longer be sorrowful and full of tears, but they will love life and find abundance in their rejoicing daily. Oil on the skin makes the face shine. Oil, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, on the soul makes it shine. Their faces and souls will no longer be consumed by tears but by the oil of joy.

God loves us and wants good things for us. Yes, sometimes we have to survive real and painful trials, but God will be with us before, during, and after.

In the moment of mourning we also have a promise. Mourning does not come all by itself for the believer! Mourning and promises come together. The good thing is that the mourning will pass but the promise will stay. The promise is joy that will replace sadness (especially sadness of our mistakes that separate us from Him- sin).

When I am in those times in life, I want God. I want to remember His promises to me that are wrapped in love and hold on to them with all that I am. I do not want mourning without the promises. I want to trade in my sad spirit that shows up on my face for joy. Yes, I do. Do you?

Isaiah 61:3
“To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Beauty for Ashes
Isaiah 61:3 (King James 2000 version), “To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

You have seen those reality TV shows where the totally undesirable person transforms into a raging beauty by the end and everyone is in awe! Hair color, make-up, new clothes, and possible a new outlook on life redefine the sum of the person in one thirty minute episode. One woman in particular came with overgrown unfixed hair, no make-up, and zero sense of style topped, whcih off with a poor self-image. She was always given hand-me-downs as a child and continued to seek those clothes out even as an adult.

On the show, she wore a dress over a dress- I can’t remember what her reason was for wearing two dresses at the same time, but beneath her calm exterior and temperament to please others, I saw a life of pain driven deeply inward that caused this great disconnect in her. The disconnection seemed to be one that did not allow her to feel or care about herself. The disconnection brought her more than poor outwardly clothing choices, it brought her inwardly heart felt pain. It seemed so obvious.

So many times in our own lives we are disconnected in many different ways and it can last a day, a month, or much longer. What causes the disconnection in the first place? It can often be traced to the same place as the Israelites. For them, it was their separation from God due to their own bad choices and believing lies rather than God.

They worshiped idols and practiced pagan rituals, which God can have to part of. The result was a separation from Him, just like all sin is. They became disconnected. Eventually they wept and put ashes on their heads (as was custom for the time period) as an outward expression of what was happening on the inside. Feelings of regret surely followed their actions of disobedience.

There are times when difficult circumstances come to us because of things we brought on ourselves or in our innocence, either way, we need to take the journey through it to end up healed on the other end. There are trials in this life! God cares about those, deeply. So much, in fact, that He wants to heal you inwardly so you will have what you need to face all trials. More importantly, so you will be restored to Him and your future will be sealed and secured in Him.

God promised the Israelites that He would literally exchange the outward ashes of mourning while symbolically changing the inward ashes for beauty. Many translations express a crown of beauty. During this time period in the Bible, people would wear roses and lilies around their heads for days of celebration. Their faces would no longer be downcast and covered with sorrow and ashes but would be clean with joy and happiness and crowned with celebratory headdresses of fragrant flowers. What a transformation! This was not a slow spiritual process because when God moved, His sweet promise would happen in an instant.

When you bring your suffering to Him and seek Him, what you will find is better than what you even knew you were asking for. Forgiveness and healing are gifts waiting for you, just ask for them. He will restore you to Himself in an instant and take you through the journey of healing! The blessings for you that follow, I can only imagine.

Trade in your ashes for beauty. It is always good to be in a right relationship with God and the very best way to live a day (and a life)! God bless you, my friend!

P.S. …it’s done by prayer and reading the Bible…

Isaiah 61:3
 “To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”