There are those in the Body of Christ today who are in mourning due to either the death of a loved one, or a death of some variety in other areas in their lives. In other words, some people have had the death of an income, the death of a business, job or career, or even the death of a relationship. And then others have dealt with calamities of one kind or another, including financial, health issues, marital or relational issues. And when you are right smack dab in the middle of all of these things, a spirit of grief and heaviness tries to attach itself to you.
But today I want you to look closely at what the Bible says is available to you.
“1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto 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 61:1-3 KJV
Verses one and two above are speaking of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that was on Jesus and His ministry. And we are to be partakers of that anointing today, because it is still available to us today. And then once we read verse three, we learn that the Lord will “appoint” some things for those who “mourn” in Zion. So allow me to explain a few things that I have discovered here in verse three.
First of all, the Lord is telling us that He has prepared something exclusively for those who are experiencing a time of mourning in Zion. And according to the scriptures, under the New Testament, Zion represents the Church, the Body of Christ.
Once I began to study this word mourning in verse three, I discovered that it refers to both death and calamity. And then as I dug into the the word appoint, I found that it means to place or set something as permanent. In other words, the Lord has placed before the Church some things we will need in times of mourning, calamity, and various troubles, that will be there for our usage permanently. And He placed them there so that we could exchange the hurt and pain and grief for those things He provided to take their place in our lives.
- Beauty for ashes
- The anointing oil of joy and gladness for mourning
- The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
First, let’s deal with exchanging beauty for ashes. Ashes on the head are a sign of those who grieve. And ashes also represent things that have been damaged, destroyed and burned up in our lives. However, the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides us with a crown of beauty to take the place of all those ashes.
In the days of Esther, King Ahasuerus, under the influence of some demonically inspirited individuals, signed a decree that would bring certain death and destruction to all the Jews within his kingdom. And once the decree was known, Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, clothed himself in sackcloth and ashes (see Esther 4:1-3).
However, the Lord working through Queen Esther caused the king to completely reverse his decree. Now, there was no more wearing of sackcloth and ashes, but a crown was worn instead (see Esther 8:15-17). And in this passage, we see that Mordecai exchanged his sackcloth and ashes for a royal robe, and that much joy and gladness and rejoicing came with it. That my friend is what exchanging beauty for ashes looks like.
So, although the devil may have proclaimed a decree against you, what has the King of kings decreed in His Word about you? When you focus on what the Lord has said about you, you’ll exchange the ashes for the crown, and rejoice before the Lord Most High.
The next thing we discover in the passage in Isaiah chapter sixty-one above is that the Lord wants us to exchange mourning in our lives for an anointing of joy and gladness.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalm 23:5 KJV
This verse tells us exactly where and when the Lord desires to anoint us with this oil of joy and gladness. He’ll do it right in the presence of our enemies! Don’t you see, when the devil is doing everything he can to defeat you, you can exchange your mourning for the oil of joy. And once you’ve done that, the devil is at a loss for what to do next.
We then discover in Isaiah what the Lord has made available to those who have a spirit of heaviness. A spirit of heaviness is a reference to a lamp that is burning out. It refers to someone who is near the point of fainting, and it describes someone who is feeble and weak. But the Lord has given us the Garment of Praise for the spirit of heaviness!
The word “garment” in Isaiah 61:3 is referring to clothing that is a wrap which completely covers an individual. It describes a person who has been totally transformed from despair and calamity and mourning, to joy and dancing and wearing a royal robe and crown. One minute this person is weeping in defeat, and then they make the great exchange, and now they are rejoicing and dancing in the winner’s circle!
You can either live in beauty or in ashes. You can remain in mourning or allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you with the oil of joy and gladness. And you can have a spirit of heaviness or you can wrap yourself up in a garment of praise. It’s all entirely up to you. But as for me, I have chosen to make the great exchange.