Beauty for Ashes
Daily Devotional for December 16th
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, Isaiah 61:3
In the Old Testament days when an individual, city or nation were warned of coming judgment from the Lord, the people who believed the warning would place upon themselves sackcloth and ashes as an outward sign of and inward sorrow, regret, remorse for their sin and a humility of heart. Once the ashes were placed upon them, the people placed themselves at the mercy of God. Even though the people of Nineveh had no promise that God would turn from His word of judgment on them, they still made the choice to repent with sackcloth and ashes. Jonah 3:6.
As would be obvious, there was nothing beautiful about a person covered in ashes. But this outward visage represented the horrible image of an inward filth known as sin. Once this was done, something wonderful happened. The Lord looked down upon the person who was openly honest with Him, choosing not to hide from Him, He would abundantly pardon their sin. But not only would he forgive, this verse teaches us that the Lord would give them beauty for ashes. This means that He would take the horrible sight that man knew that he was, and give to him a beauty; and adornment that only God could give.
Have you ever looked at your life and not liked what you saw; not liked what you had become? When you read the word of God, does it convict your heart? There was a time when you were very close to the Lord and knew the sweet fellowship in His Spirit, but today you’re distant and estranged from Him. The people who placed the ashes upon them were making an outward confession that they knew they were exceeding sinful and chose not to hide it from God any longer, but to confess it.
What about you friend? If you’ve sinned, have you chosen to openly confess you wrong and ask Him to forgive, or have you chosen to hide it? The Lord knows it’s there already, but forgiveness does not come until we confess our sins. 1 John 1:9. If you will come honestly before Him, He will take away the ashes and give you beauty in place of it. A beauty that will cause you to rejoice in His presence and not be ashamed. What a loving God we serve!