The rest of the verse, which Yeshua apparently did not read, is for future fulfillment: “… and the day of vengeance of our God” looks forward to the day of Yeshua’s return, when He will take vengeance on the enemies of Israel.
In this Haftarah portion, God appears dressed as a warrior in that day of vengeance; His clothes stained in the blood of Israel’s enemies.
“Who is this coming from Edom [descendants of Esau—terrorist faction of radical Islam], from Bozrah, with His garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of His strength? ‘It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.’” (Isaiah 63:1)
Israel stands as a sign and beacon to all peoples everywhere of the wonderful grace and mercy of God.
Its glorious restoration reveals that He can replant, rebuild, re-establish His people from the worst destruction in each one of our lives. If we will give Him our ashes and mourning, He will give us beauty and the oil of joy.
“The Lord has anointed Me to … provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1, 3)
New Beginnings in the Haftarah
This week’s Haftarah (prophetic portion) provides three powerful images of new beginnings:
1. New Clothes:
“For God has clothed me in garments of triumph, wrapped me in a robe of victory, like a bridegroom adorned with a turban, like a bride bedecked in her finery.” (Isaiah 61:10)
God is going to give us a whole new look, and whether we are male or female, we’re going to look gorgeous!
He will be giving us a new beautiful wardrobe, fixing up our hair, placing the necklace of precious jewels around our neck, fussing with our appearance to make us look our best, a perfect Bride without spot or wrinkle.
This is the ultimate makeover.
God’s Bride, Israel and the foreigners who all abide in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), is being prepared to meet her Beloved. Instead of defeat and despair, we are going to be clothed in triumph and victory!
2. A New Name (Identity):
In the Bible, a name change is a sign of a major life change or transformation.
God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah by adding the Hebrew letter hey (ה). This Hebrew letter occurs in two out of the four letters of God’s name YHVH. With a part of God’s identity meshed into their own, they were able to be fertile and fulfill their God-given destiny.
Jacob’s name was also changed from Yaacov (which can mean heel, but also deceiver) into Yisrael—triumphant with God. Or it may be derived from the verb yashar, meaning straight / honest with God.
Likewise, the Bible promises that God will give Israel a new name.
“You will be called by a new name… No longer will you be called Forsaken [Azuva], neither shall your land any more be called Desolate [Sh’mamah]; but you shall be called, ‘My delight is in her [Heftzi-bah] and your land, Married [Be’ulah]; for the Lord delights in you and your land shall be married.” (Isaiah 62:2, 4)
In Revelation 2, a chapter emphasizing repentance, God once again promises a new name:
“To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17)
God wants to change our name so we can know our true identity in the Messiah: righteous, holy, redeemed, forgiven, free, friend of God.
Once we truly know who we are in Him, we will begin to act differently, like true children of God. Others will see us and relate to us differently, and our whole lives will be transformed.
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
3. New Love and Intimacy
The third image is that of new love and intimacy.
The Hebrew root word Baal, which occurs several times in Isaiah 62:4–5, means marry. God loves Israel and He loves us as a Bridegroom loves His Bride.
We are the beautiful Bride of the Messiah, a “crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord—a royal diadem [precious gem]”—and He rejoices over us: “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:3, 5)
God is so intimate with us that He Himself dresses us with new garments, like a mother with a little child; He names us with a new name, as the parent of a new baby; and He rejoices over us, as a lover with His Bride.
On our journey of transformation, as we at times go through the fires and floods of affliction, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God is with us and He cares for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is so intimately involved with us that in all of our affliction, He is afflicted.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Isaiah states that Messiah is a “man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
One of the names of God is YHVH Shamah, which means God is There. Sometimes that’s all we need—to know that He is “there for us.” He is God with us—Emanu-El.
Yes, God wants to restore, rebuild, renew, and even avenge, but as we reflect on this past year, if we see pain and anguish, let us remember that God can do much more than just meet our needs: He is the parent who dresses and provides for us, the counselor who guides us into all we can be, and the lover who adores us.
This may not take away the hurt. God doesn’t always instantly fix every broken thing in our lives, but He is always there for us to provide, comfort, and encourage.
Perhaps this is all we need to find the courage to begin again—to walk into the new thing that God has prepared for His Beloved.