10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations” (Isaiah 61:10-11).
Isaiah begins today’s text with an exclamation of praise. He said that he would greatly rejoice in the LORD. The grammar indicates that this enjoyment in the person of Yahweh, the One, True self-existent God of the universe, was to be a consistent attitude and behavior in his life.
Isaiah’s rejoicing would encompass his very soul: his intellect, emotions and will. To exult means to rejoice with shouts and shrieks of praise. Here too, the grammar indicates that this attitude and behavior of exultation would be continuous.
Why was Isaiah so captivated with praising the LORD? Why should we be? Isaiah provided the answer when he wrote, “for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Here, as in Zechariah 3:1-5, is an Old Testament picture of God’s imputed righteousness being credited on the sinner’s behalf. The basis of this imputation is by God’s grace alone, through God given faith alone, and in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
Dr. Stephen Nichols writes, “We see how essential the doctrine of justification by faith alone was in the Reformation planks of sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), and solus Christus (Christ alone). These solas stress that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We must also see, however, that the Reformers emphasized a word that they found to be absolutely essential to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which they in turn saw as essential to a right understanding of the gospel. That word is imputation.”
The word imputation comes from the Latin. It is an accounting or mathematical term meaning “to apply to one’s account.” In other words, expenses are debited and income is credited. The word “reckon” is used for imputation in the King James Version.
Dr. Nichols continues by saying, “In theological terms, we speak of a double imputation that takes place in justification. This double imputation is taught in texts such as 2 Corinthians 5:21, where Paul says plainly, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Here we read that our sin is imputed to Christ. We are the offending party. He is guiltless. He perfectly kept the law. Yet, on the cross, God poured out His wrath on Christ. Why? Because our sin was imputed to Christ. Christ took upon Himself our sin. Our great debit was put on His account. Christ paid the horrific penalty as the cup of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him.”
“There is also a second imputation. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. He not only takes our debit, but we also get His credit. Christ paid the penalty we could never satisfy, but He also kept the law perfectly, which we can’t do either. Consequently, God credits to us His righteousness. We stand before God clothed in Christ’s righteousness. We can actually say that we are saved by works—not at all by our works, but instead by Christ’s works, His perfect obedience, on our behalf. One theologian said that two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are for us. Jesus lived and died—and rose again—for us. All of His work was done on our behalf.”
Isaiah compared this imputed righteousness to the festive wedding garments of a bride and groom. He also compared it to the earth bringing forth luscious vegetation. Much like the rejoicing which takes place on one’s wedding day, or in the full sway of summer when the land is producing abundant crops, so likewise God’s people are to bring forth abundant praise for the imputed righteousness each has received from the LORD Most High.
This essential doctrine is expressed most succinctly in The Word Made Flesh: The Ligonier Statement on Christology. The redemption Christ accomplished is stated in the fourth stanza of the statement: For us, He kept the law, atoned for sin, and satisfied God’s wrath. He took our filthy rags and gave us His righteous robe. I encourage you to read Romans 3:9-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 3:1-9).
Thank you LORD for exchanging your robes of righteousness in place of my filthy rags of sinfulness. Much like Isaiah, and Zechariah, I can never thank and praise you enough for what you have done for me.
Soli deo Gloria!