Psalm 68:11 “The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it:”
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war.
Like Abraham Lincoln, Isaiah the prophet penned the proclamation 2600 years earlier that would be the signature of the coming Messiah:
Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
Little did Isaiah know how those words would echo throughout history.
The Good News
The tortured slaves of the 19th century began to have hope when the intent of freedom started to gain ground.
The proclamation of the prophet was not only a declaration of the coming Messiah, it was the future hope for all slaves to sin. The war that had been waged for the souls of mankind had gone on for 4000 years and the devastation of those who have fallen victim to the ravages of this war have been more than can be counted.
700 years after Isaiah, Jesus appeared in the synagogue and fulfilled the prophecy that was to be the proclamation that echoed throughout time.
Luke 4:16-21 “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The moment Jesus opened the book of Isaiah and read, the advent of the Messiah’s ministry officially began. What began in Bethlehem 30 years earlier had culminated in the revelation that hope had arisen. Did the rabbi’s of Jesus’ day understand who was standing before them on that fateful Sabbath? Did the magnitude of watching prophecy unfold before their eyes cause them to fall to their knees and worship the King?
History shows that the people to whom Jesus appeared were left questioning the validity of what their eyes were seeing. The few who did believe, were the ones who didn’t concern themselves with their position but were ready to receive what the Teacher would show them.
Jesus firmly established His sovereign position as God incarnate through His life, ministry, and resurrection and just before His departure back into Heaven, gave us a decree:
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The role of proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ birth and resurrection falls upon His people. They have not been called to sit passively by, waiting for the Lord’s return, the calling and purpose is much higher than that….
As the angels appeared in the heavens and proclaimed the Messiah’s birth to the lowly shepherds below, His people are called to carry this message to the world.
Habakkuk 2:2-4 “Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.
Every 4 years the Olympic games are precluded by the running of the torch. The torch is lit in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the games and is then carried to the selected venue that year and the lit flame is the signal for the games to begin. Although the tradition is founded in Greek mythology, the symbolic gesture has resonance within the Kingdom of God.
Judges 13:20 “When the flame went up from the altar to the sky, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell facedown to the ground.”
Nearly 400 years before the first Olympics ever began in Greece, Manoah, the father of Samson, experienced the fire of the Lord. The angel of the Lord had appeared to he and his wife to proclaim the Lords decision to raise up a judge in Israel through them. What they thought was a simple dedication upon an altar, turned into a first hand encounter with God.
The fire of the Lord appeared before Moses in the desert well before Manoah and his wife had their encounter. The fire of the Lord lit upon the disciples at Pentecost when the Spirit poured down upon their heads….and the fire has not been extinguished today.
For those who carry His flame, the mission goes on.
Does the Spirit of God exist in your heart? If so, you have everything necessary to be a minister of the Lord. Ministry can take many forms, the key is walking as the Spirit as God guides.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, be the light you have been ordained to be and you will fulfill the mission that Jesus gave.
Within the company of believers—-be a light to the nations.