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Beauty for Ashes?

Harvest of Asher

Akko, Israel

Yeshua, standing in the synagogue in Nazareth, addressed the crowd with Isaiah’s words which were a prophecy of Himself!

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me, to proclaim good tidings to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, and console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

(Isaiah 61:1-3)

I recently read these words on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and then a week later on Memorial Day, when we commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

Isaiah 61:3 hit me the hardest: “To comfort all who mourn, and console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes.”

The word “ashes” immediately reminds one of the Nazi death camps where the bodies of the gassed Jews were cremated. Within a stretch of 3 years, the ashes of the Nazi Holocaust were turned into a certain type of “beauty” in the newborn nation of Israel.

Throughout Israel’s history, both ancient and modern, we have needed to defend ourselves from war and attack. Lives have been lost. The death of Israeli fighters did not begin in 1948 with modern independence. It began thousands of years earlier, among others, with deaths of Saul and Jonathan. In 2 Samuel 1:17-27, King David laments over this father/son duo, killed in battle against the Philistines.

People gave their lives in battle for the rest of us to be able to live a life of quiet, serenity and security. For me, this Independence Day marking 75 years of the Nation of Israel, was one of the most difficult. The crowds of thousands who are demonstrating against the present government, include many people who fought for this nation, and families of those lost in wars and terror attacks - Zionists who helped build this country. Those who experienced the Beauty (pe’er in Hebrew) of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and in its first decades, are facing a different and depressing reality today.

The only Beauty that will actually, eternally save us from despair and truly pull us from the ashes is the glorious beauty of our divine Creator-Redeemer. Only when the people of Israel recognize Yeshua will the rest of Isaiah 61 come to fruition.


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