Isaiah 61:3 says, “to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Psalm 113:7-8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.
“God is the champion at bringing people from a place of destruction
To a place of total victory” ~ Joyce Meyer~
What Does Beauty for Ashes Mean?
Beauty for ashes, or “a crown of beauty instead of ashes,” is a scriptural promise detailed in Isaiah 61. Where it had been customary to don sackcloth and sit in ashes during times of grief and repentance, Isaiah announces that God has sent him to proclaim good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners, and comfort for the brokenhearted.
He is describing the heart of the One who cleanses the ash from our lives and clothes us in the beautiful gift of salvation. The One who forgives our iniquities and remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12).
The ashes of grief, shame, and disgrace are exchanged with the reward of an everlasting covenant with God (Isaiah 61:8). Through Isaiah, God tells his people that “all who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed” (Isaiah 61:9).
Beauty for ashes represents God’s redemptive power from the very beginning. In his story for all humanity, many trials come and fall away, dust returns to dust (Ecclesiastes 3:20), and legends in the Bible were known to put ashes on their heads as a sign of grief (Joshua 7:6).
Job repented in ashes. God reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes (2 Peter 2:6). Throughout Scripture, ashes signify our human condition. Ashes remind us that trials produce humility, and sacrifices can bring about renewal.
The prophet did not say that God’s promise was to bring beauty from ashes, but rather He would give beauty for ashes! There’s a big difference between the two!
We like the idea of God making something beautiful from something ugly. And He can certainly do that. But His promise in Scriptures is to actually replace our ashes with something else!
I believe this points to the salvation that God provided through Jesus Christ. When God saves us, He doesn’t simply improve us, He creates something new! Consider what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17 KJV)
What do Ashes represent in our daily lives?
What are ashes? Ashes, I believe, are the wounded parts of our lives. Everybody has wounds; everybody has ashes–and all kinds of them. Sometimes they happen with a family member. There can just be every kind of a thing–a mate, your children, your job, your church. Ashes happen every place. Everybody gets wounded. I think the hardest wounds to turn to the Lord are the ones you wounded yourself with when you have done stupid things.
Examples of ashes
- Heart break
- Hostility/ war
BEAUTY FOR ASHES CHART
|loss||Gain ( John 10:10)|
|Hopelessness||Hope ( Jeremiah 29:11), The children of Israel were in Exile but God assured them of Hope|
|Heart break||Healing/ wholeness|
|rejection||Acceptance ( John 1:12)|
|Despair/weariness||Renewal/ rest/ revival|
|sin||Forgiveness/ justification ( Romans 5:2)|
|shame||Glory/ double portion ( Isaiah 61:7)|
|Death||Life ( Ezekiel prophesied to the dead dry bone- Ezekiel 37) Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead|
How to experience beauty for Ashes
- Find Christ
- Give God your ashes.
- Let go of the past ( Isaiah 43;18-19)
- Walk in repentance ( The prodigal son was given a beautiful robe when he came back to his senses)
- Walk in Obedience ( Isaiah 1:8) If you are willing and obedient, you will eat of the good in the land)
- Forgive people who hurt you