“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
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
Under the Old Covenant, people wore ashes when they were mourning. Those who had sinned, or who were distraught about something, wore sackcloth with ashes on their head. In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah – Jesus – Who would come to give us beauty for ashes. The Amplified Bible says that He came to give us an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes.
Ashes are all that is left after something is completely burned up. In the natural, when something is broken, you can fix it, but if it has been burned up and reduced to ashes, it can never be restored back to the way it was, never mind better than what it was!
After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. 2[God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. Genesis 22:1-2 AMP
By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was still in progress], had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God’s] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, 18 Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned. 19 For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19 AMP
God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because He was planning to sacrifice Jesus for all mankind. Since the promise of the New Covenant was based on the covenant God made with Abraham, Abraham – on behalf of all mankind – had to be prepared to sacrifice his son to the Lord. Of course, God did not want Abraham to actually kill Isaac, He just had to know that he was willing to do it. Abraham had so much faith in God’s promise, “Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned,” that he was fully prepared to kill Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering. When you finish burning an offering, only ashes are left. Abraham was convinced that God would raise Isaac from the dead even if all that was left of him was ashes!
Many of you feel as if there are areas of your life that have been left in ruins and burned to ashes – never to be recovered again – but the good news is that Jesus came to give us beauty for our ashes. If God has made you a promise, then you can stand on that promise and trust Him to bring something beautiful out of the ashes of your life.
Jesus came to give us an ornament – a garland or a diadem – of beauty instead of ashes. Instead of ashes on our head, we wear an ornament or crown of beauty. Jesus lifts us out of our mourning and gives us a reason to rejoice. He heals incurable diseases – leprosy, withered limbs, blindness, and issues of blood. He raised sons and daughters and brothers from the dead. Wherever things look hopeless and you feel helpless – Jesus is there to work a miracle if you will believe.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Whatever plans you have for yourself – God has better plans. Whatever evil plans the devil has for you – God has good plans – plans to give you hope and to give you a future. Ashes represent something that is over with no hope, no tomorrow, and no future, but in Jesus, we have a hope and a future. God has a future – a good future – for you!