Isaiah 60:6 - 62:3
The abundance of things, in the form of earthly blessings, that will be poured into Israel, is given in much detail from verse 6 of Isaiah 60. In that verse Sheba is mentioned, the land from which came the Queen, who visited Solomon with much gold and spices. When she arrived, as related in 1 Kings 10, she shewed forth the praises of Solomon. In the day contemplated in our chapter, "they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord."
This will come to pass in the way that is intimated in verse 7. Not only will the altar of God be once more established, but the house of the Lord be in their midst. A century or two after Isaiah, the prophet Haggai predicted that, "the glory of this latter house" (Haggai 2: 9), or, "the latter glory of this house" (New Trans.), should be greater than the former in the days of Solomon; and so it will be. It is designated here as "the house of my glory," and even as such the Lord Himself will glorify it. In the glorified house of His glory His praises will be seen and heard.
We pass from the house to the people in verses 8 and 9. Today the Jews are returning to their ancestral home in their hundreds and thousands without faith in Christ. When God re-gathers His people it will be a quick and effectual work. They will "fly,"- a speedy work. It will be "to their windows"-like a bird returning to its home. And this they will do as "doves"-a bird noted for its meek and quiet spirit. The unconverted Jew of today may still be just as Paul described his own nation in 1 Thessalonians 2: 15, but the born-again Israelites, who will fly to their millennial home in the coming day, will be a repentant and meek people. The ships too of Gentile nations will carry them and their riches, acknowledging the name of Jehovah as "the Holy One of Israel." Inasmuch as He has been glorified, He can now glorify Israel.
In result, the nations, instead of being antagonistic, will be the helpers of their fame and prosperity, as we see in verses 10-12. As things stand today, nothing would seem more unlikely than what is here predicted; but we must remember that not only will there be a work of God in Israel, but among the nations also. In Revelation 7, we have not only a vision of the "sealed" among the tribes of Israel, but of a great company of the elect, drawn out of all nations; and in Revelation 21 we read of, "the nations of them which are saved." Those who rebel among the nations will perish.
In result, Jerusalem will be acknowledged as, "the city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel." It will have become what God intended it to be-"an eternal excellency" and "a joy." But again the basis on which this will be accomplished is made very plain. All will see that it is not something produced by Israel but rather by the One who is their Saviour and Redeemer. Jacob, the schemer, and his posterity have nothing in which to boast. The Mighty One of Jacob alone has done it on the basis of redemption.
We read of the Redeemer coming to Zion in verse 20 of the previous chapter, and noticed how the Apostle referred to this in Romans 11. We now see that the Redeemer is Jehovah. And in the New Testament it is equally clear that the Redeemer is Jesus. He who is the Arm of Jehovah is Jehovah.
In our chapter this is stated in verse 16, and it is the fact that explains what otherwise would be a mystery; namely, the wealth and the glory, that will be poured into and upon Israel from the Gentile nations, as we see detailed in the verses that precede and that follow. We read that, "The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish." Why should such severe judgment fall? Because the Divine plan for the coming millennial age is that Israel shall be the central nation, surrounding His glorious temple, as a nation of priests, and that the other nations should be grouped around them, and expressing through them their submission and devotion to the King of kings. Should a nation in that day defy the Divine plan, they will perish. It will be the age of Divine government. We live at present in the age of grace.
In the latter part of Revelation 21, we have described the new and heavenly Jerusalem, which is "the Lamb's wife"-a symbolic description; of the church in its heavenly position during the millennial age, and if we compare with it the details of our chapter concerning the earthly Jerusalem, we notice certain similarities, and yet striking contrasts. The presence of the Lord is the glory of both cities. The gates of both are open continually to receive the wealth and honour of the nations. Both have an abundance of "gold," and find their everlasting "light" in the Lord.
But the contrasts are more numerous. The gates of the earthly will not be shut day or night of the heavenly not shut by day -but the day is an eternal one, for there is no night there. The glory of the earthly will be the temple, described in verse 13 as "the place of My feet." Jehovah will have His feet On the earth; but in the heavenly there is no temple, for "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." It is the place of His presence rather than the place of His feet. The earthly will know a glory brighter than the sun; but the heavenly will have no need of the sun for the Lamb is the light thereof. Gold will be brought plentifully into the earthly; but in the heavenly it forms the street, and they walk on it. We think we may say that the difference is accounted for by the introduction, in Revelation, of THE LAMB.
But we can indeed rejoice in the description given us by Isaiah of millennial blessedness and glory, when righteousness and peace will mark the scene and violence will have disappeared, when the real walls of Jerusalem shall be salvation, and out of its gates shall issue praise. This will only come to pass when, as verse 2 says, "Thy people also shall be all righteous." That will only come to pass when the new birth, of which Ezekiel 36 speaks, takes place. Then God will "sprinkle clean water" upon them, and give them "a new heart," and put within them "a new spirit." Then, "born of water and of the Spirit," as the Lord Jesus put it to Nicodemus, they will see and enter into the kingdom of God.
When the children of Israel are thus born again and righteous before their God, through the grace of their Redeemer, they will be multiplied as the last verse of our chapter tells us. At last God is able to make of them "a strong nation." When the time arrives God will do it speedily. It will not be a long drawn-out process, a kind of evolution, such as men love but a swift action, of a sort that manifestly is a work of God.
This attractive description of millennial blessedness is continued in chapter 61, but before it is resumed, the first three verses, forming a paragraph by themselves, instruct us further how all will be brought to pass. Here we have the passage that our Lord found in the synagogue at Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 4, and which He read, stopping in the middle of verse 2, because there the prediction of His first advent ends. The fact is, of course, that for Israel, as for us, everything depends on His two advents.
The words that were read by our Lord all indicate grace, without any allusion to the law of Moses. There is a veiled allusion to the three Persons of the Godhead. In our Bibles GOD is printed thus in capitals because it is really the great name, Jehovah. So the opening words mention the Spirit of Jehovah, the Lord Jehovah Himself, and the "Me," who is the Anointed One, or the Christ, who is sent to be the Proclaimer and the Minister of the grace. It is perfectly clear from Exodus 19 that the words of the law were not "glad tidings." There was, "the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." The tragedy was that when a voice of exceeding grace was heard in the synagogue at Nazareth the people neither trembled nor rejoiced, but rose up with anger to kill the One who proclaimed "the acceptable year of the Lord."
Hence the necessity of those words which our Lord did not read. The second advent of Christ in power and glory, and in judgment, is foreseen to be a necessity by the prophet here. The glorious state of things predicted will never be established till Christ comes again. He laid the foundations for it in the redemption accomplished at His first advent. He will bring it to pass in power, and with vengeance, at His second advent.
Vengeance is truly a terrible word when it comes from the mouth of God, and if we turn to verse 4 of Isaiah 63 we shall find it referred to again. It means retribution exacted for wrongs committed, and all the wrongs that men have committed are primarily against God. A day is coming when God Himself will bring retribution on the heads of sinful men; judging "the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained," as Paul told the Athenians, recorded in Acts 17. When that comes to pass, it will "comfort all that mourn," because their mourning will be not for their own personal troubles, but rather for the evil and chaos that will fill the earth, the sinfulness of men having then reached its climax. When men have filled the cup of their iniquity to the brim, God will strike by the advent of Christ. And to those who mourn, though few in number, what a comfort that will be!
Verse 3 shows us what comfort it will bring such. Their previous state is described by the words, "ashes," "mourning," "the spirit of heaviness." All will be changed for them. They will have "beauty," "the oil of joy," and "the garment of praise. "They will be planted as "trees of righteousness," the trees of lawlessness and evil having been cut down, and in all this, and in them, the Lord will be glorified.
From verse 4 the description of Israel's blessings is resumed. Not only will the land be renovated, the desolate cities be built up afresh, and strangers who formerly despised them be their servants but the crown of all be their spiritual blessing. They will be the "Priests of Jehovah" and "Ministers of God" in the coming age, and as under the law the priests were supported by the offerings of the common people, so it will be for them, and that in abundant measure, for they are going to "eat the riches of the Gentiles." In that day even the Gentiles will have abundance, and out of their riches will flow abundance to the priestly nation.
This is indeed a remarkable prophecy as to the end God is going to reach in His dealings with His earthly people. Verse 7 speaks of shame and confusion, and these things have been their portion under the strong hand of their God, in holy government because of their manifold sins, but now all is to be reversed. Other passages have shown us how their whole condition spiritually will have been reversed, under "the everlasting covenant," of which verse 8 speaks. Based on the everlasting covenant will be the everlasting joy, predicted in verse 7. All will have to acknowledge that now, as a born again people, they are "the seed which the Lord hath blessed."
In the two verses that close this chapter the prophet himself speaks, as voicing the glad response that will spring from the redeemed and restored Israel of the millennial day. At last Jehovah their God will be known and gloried in with joyfulness. At Sinai and under the law, their ancestors feared and trembled before Him, since all depended on what they could do. Now they are joyfully alive to what God has done for them and with them. Notice how at this point the prophetic strain drops down to the personal and individual. It is not, "clothed us," but, "clothed me." Not, "covered us," but, "covered me." The language is figurative, but the meaning is clear. The individual Israelite of that glad day will be clothed with salvation, as the fruit of standing before his God in a robe of righteousness.
Though there is so wide a difference between the character of Israel's earthly blessing and that of the church's heavenly portion, the basis on which both rest is evidently the same. For them salvation is to be founded on righteousness, and so it is for us today, as is made so plain in Romans 1: 16, 17. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation because in it the righteousness of God is revealed, not acting against us but on our behalf by the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. It is revealed, "on the principle of faith to faith" (New Trans.). It is brought to us, not on the principle of works, which we have to perform, but of faith as opposed to works. And it is revealed, not to our sight, but to faith, where faith exists.
The believer today stands before God in righteousness divinely wrought, and his faith apprehends this, though there may be nothing of an outward sort visible to sight, save the new kind of life he lives as the fruit of his conversion. But in this connection too there is contrast, for outward and visible things will be clearly manifested, as the robe of righteousness and garments of salvation envelop the sons and daughters of Israel in that day. There will not only be the transformation in the land and cities, mentioned in verse 4, but the righteousness will blossom forth in a way that will be visible to the eyes of all the nations to the praise of the Lord, who has brought it to pass.
So whether it be for the saint of today, called by the Gospel to a heavenly portion, or whether for the renewed Israelites of the future- salvation stands securely based upon righteousness. And because righteousness will be established praise also will "spring forth before all the nations." It will be so obviously the work of God that the glory of it and the praise will be His.
In the first verse of Isaiah 62, we have the prophet speaking in the name of the Lord; or, perhaps we might say, it was the Spirit of Christ which was in him, speaking through him, in keeping with what we read in 1 Peter 1: 11. If the result of God's work in Israel, and on behalf of Zion and Jerusalem, will bring such good to them and such praises to God, then there must be no rest until all is accomplished. Before the eyes of all the nations Israel will stand in a righteous salvation, which God Himself has wrought, and hence they will display His glory, and not their own. The figures used in verse 3, are very expressive of this. Previously, how different the situation! The Apostle Paul had to write concerning them, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" (Rom. 2: 24). Now they will be, "a crown of glory," and "a royal diadem," in God's hand.
We, who today are called for a portion not only spiritual but also heavenly, may well rejoice as we contemplate what God will yet do for and with His earthly people; and at the same time we may yet more rejoice as we think of what is purposed for us. If we scan the first two chapters of Ephesians, what remarkable expressions we find. The blessing purposed for us will be, "to the praise of the glory of His grace," inasmuch as it is bestowed, "according to the riches of His grace." And further we discover that "in the ages to come" God is going to display "the exceeding [or, surpassing] riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
When Israel is blessed, as Isaiah foretells, it will be a work of grace and bring much glory to God. But when the church shines forth in the heavenly glory of Christ, her Head, there will be a yet brighter display of grace. Those embraced in the church have been gathered out of the nations through the centuries; not a few of them human beings of the most degraded type.
Holy angels have witnessed the whole tragedy of human sin. When a saint is shining in the glory of Christ, that, they recognize, was once a naked, vicious, savage cannibal what will they say? They will surely confess that here is a display of SURPASSING grace.
And we, the saints of today, have the privilege of taking our part in God's present work by the Gospel. Do we realize this? If we do, we shall not fail to take our place, under the Lord's direction-whether to go, or to give, to speak or to pray,-while waiting for the glorious consummation.
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