The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 61:10-62:3 and forms a beautiful portion of the Fifth Servant Song in Isaiah. In this pericope we see a wonderful blending of three prominent motifs from Scripture: The garment motif, the marriage motif, and the garden motif. While this may seem rather strange and confusing at first, the three motifs are artfully woven together here in Isaiah, as well as throughout the Bible.
The Garment Motif begins in the Garden of Eden and provides an immediate context for the pericope. In the Garden, after the Fall into sin, Adam and Eve make for themselves garments of fig leaves to cover their sin and shame (they also hide in the bushes). When God seeks them out and then expels them from the Garden, He provides them with garments from animal skins to replace the fig leaves. The problem is the fig leaves are man’s own attempt to cover, conceal, hide or to pay for his own shame and sin, but God makes it clear that only He can atone/cover sin and it is through the shedding of blood. Luther and many of the early Church Fathers claim that the animal skins were from lambs. The reality is man is helpless in his attempts to pay the price for his own sin even though he continues to try (and is still trying today). Isaiah calls these fig leaves, “filthy rags/menstrual cloths,” and in Jesus’ wedding parable of Matthew 22 the man who came to the wedding feast (Marriage Motif) with his own fig leaves/filthy rags rather than the garment provided by the King, is expelled into the outer darkness of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Hell).
The beauty of Isaiah 61:10 is that the Bridegroom adorns His bride—the Church. The Lamb of God is stripped of His garment and sheds His blood on a cross to clothe us in robes of righteousness and garments of salvation—like a bridegroom who adorns himself and his bride. As a result of these salvific garments, the Bride of Christ will enter the marriage feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end (Revelation 19). In other words, the New Eden/Garden—Heaven!
As a result of these salvific garments, the Bride of Christ will enter the marriage feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end (Revelation 19).
R. Lessing and his Isaiah 56-66 Concordia Commentary has provided some great insight in this study.
61:10 שֹוֹשֹ אָשִֹישֹ (Sos a-Sis) root: שֹישֹ/שֹושֹ (soos) Qal Imperfect with Infinitive: “to rejoice; to exalt; to show joy” The Infinitive Absolute intensifies the meaning/action. “I will greatly rejoice; I will rejoice exuberantly”
תָּגֵל (ta-Gel) root: גיל (gheel) Qal Jussive: “to exult”
הִלְבִּישַׁנִי (hil-bi-Sha-ni) root: לבשׁ (law-bash) Hiphil: “to clothe; to cause to be clothed” Note how the causing agent is the bridegroom!
יֶשַׁע (Ye-sha) “help; deliverance; salvation”
מְעִיל (me-Il) “robe; sleeveless outer garment”
יְעָטָנִי (ye-a-Ta-ni) root: יעט (yaw-at) Qal, with suffix: “to cover” Hapax Legomenon: “he has covered me”
כֶּחָתָן (ke-cha-Tan) from: חָתָן (khaw-thawn) “like a bridegroom; as a bridegroom”
יְכַהֵן (ye-cha-Hen) root: כהן (kaw-han) Piel: “to act like a priest; to play the priest”
וְכַכַּלָּה (ve-chak-kal-Lah) from: כַּלָּה (kal-law) “and as a bride”
תַּעְדֶּה (ta-Deh) root: עדה (aw-daw) Qal: “to put on something as an ornament; to adorn with”
*The idea is the bride is adorned with a garment provided by the bridegroom. Thus, the Bridegroom/Christ pays for His bride and then adorns her with garments, a headdress, etc.: Imputed righteousness.
61:11 תַצְמִיחַ/יַצְמִיחַ (tatz-Mi-ach/yatz-Mi-ach) root: צמח (tsaw-makh) Hiphil: “to cause to sprout; to cause to grow” This root is used three times in the verse.
וּכְגַנָּה (u-che-gan-Nah) from: גַּנָּה (gan-naw) “garden” “and as a garden” This alludes to the Garden of Eden. This verse has moved us from the Garment and Marriage Motifs to the Garden Motif.
וּתְהִלָּה (u-te-hil-Lah) “praise; song of praise”
62:1 It appears the speaker has returned to the “Anointed Servant” of Isaiah 61:1-3. The motifs of Garment/Marriage/Garden continue.
אֶחֱשֶׁה (e-che-Sheh) root: חשׁה (khaw-shaw) Qal: “to be silent; hold your peace; be inactive”
אֶשְׁקוֹט (esh-Kot) root: שׁקט (shaw-kat) Qal: “to maintain a quiet attitude; to be inactive; to be quiet”
וִישׁוּעָתָהּ (vi-shu-a-Tah) “help; salvation” “…and her salvation…”
יִבְעָר (yiv-Ar) root: בער (baw-ar) Qal: “to burn; to be burning”
62:2 חָדָשׁ (cha-Dash) “new; fresh”
יִקֳּבֶנּוּ (yik-ko-Ven-nu) root: נקב (naw-kab) Qal: “to decide; to designate” This is the only case in the OT where this verb is used in a positive sense.
62:3 תִּפְאֶרֶת (tif-E-ret) “beauty; glory”
וְצָנוּף (u-tze-nof) “turban; headband; diadem”
מְלוּכָה (me-lu-Chah) “kingship; royalty; a position as king or ruler”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 61:10-62:3.
Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 61:10-62:3.
Lectionary Podcast- Prof. Ryan Tietz of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Isaiah 61:10-62:3.