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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 60

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes


B. Revelation of future glory chs. 60-62

These chapters present Israel as the restored people of God displaying God’s salvation to the earth. Isaiah’s focus was beyond the return from Babylonian exile to the messianic kingdom. Numerous promises of blessing and salvation mark this section of the book.

"If it is true that Israel’s God is the only Holy One, that it is his glory alone that fills the earth, and that he is King of the universe, then what does that mean for Israel both in relation to God and in relation to world [sic]? In many ways, the rest of the book is an exploration of those issues, and in chs. 60-62 they come to their broadest expression and resolution." [Note: Oswalt, The Book . . . 40-66, p. 535.]

Eight themes run through these chapters. [Note: Ibid.] Isaiah introduced these truths earlier, but he emphasized them strongly in this section.

1. God will save Israel.

2. God will give Israel light.

3. God will share His glory with Israel.

4. Israel will draw the nations to God.

5. The nations will bring the Israelites back to Zion.

6. The nations will bring their wealth to Zion.

7. God will exalt Israel over the nations.

8. Israel will experience and exemplify God’s righteousness.

As Cyrus was the Lord’s anointed to set the Israelites free from Babylonian captivity, so the Servant Messiah is His Anointed to set them free from their captivity to sin. He is the great Warrior behind this section who will achieve for Israel all that the Lord promised. The word "glory," in one form or another, occurs at least 23 times in chapters 60-66.

1. Israel among the nations ch. 60

The focus of this chapter is Israel’s position of prominence among the nations in the future.

". . . the poem centres on the Abrahamic theme that those who bless him will be blessed and those who curse him will be cursed (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 27:29)." [Note: Motyer, p. 493.]

Verse 1

God had called Israel to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 43:10), but presently she was darkness (Isaiah 56:9 to Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 59:1-15 a). The Lord had promised that He would enable His people to fulfill their calling (Isaiah 57:14-21; Isaiah 59:15-21). Now Isaiah summoned the nation to rise up and shine because her light had arrived (cf. Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 52:1). God’s glory, rather than His discipline, will rise as the sun upon her. Like a city gleaming in the light of the risen sun, Israel will shine with a glory that is not her own. God will not share His glory with false gods (Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 48:11), but He will share it with His people through His Servant (Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 43:7; John 1:14; John 17:4; John 17:22; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 4:13-14).

The first coming of Christ anticipated the dawning of a new day for Israel, but His second coming will see the fulfillment of these prophecies of Israel’s glorification (cf. Revelation 2:28; Revelation 22:16).

Verses 1-9

The nations drawn to Israel 60:1-9

Light would dawn on Israel, and as a result: the Gentiles would seek her out.

Verse 2

God’s glory will rise on His people when there is much darkness on the earth, the darkness of sin and wickedness (cf. Isaiah 8:19-22; Isaiah 59:9-10). He had given light to His people in the past when He led the Israelites out of dark Egypt (Exodus 10:23). The second Exodus from Babylon would be similar. This was true also before Jesus appeared the first time, and it will be true before He appears the second time. His second coming will end the Great Tribulation.

Verse 3

In the future manifestation of light, the Gentile nations and their leaders will look to Israel for light (righteousness and illumination). They will not seek Israel because she is light but because of the light that she will reflect and make manifest to the world. We can see a foreview of the revelation of God’s light coming through the 144,000 Jewish missionaries who will preach the gospel during the Tribulation (cf. Revelation 7:1-8). This preaching will not fulfill this promise, however. The present preaching of the gospel by the church is only a foretaste of what is also to come through Israel.

"Though everyone entering the Millennium will be saved, people will be born during that 1,000-year period of time. Many of them will come to salvation because of God’s work on Israel’s behalf." [Note: J. Martin, p. 1115.]

Verse 4

The nations and their leaders will bring the disbursed Israelites back to their land as well (cf. Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 49:18). They will also bring their wealth and give it to the Israelites (cf. Isaiah 60:11; Isaiah 61:6; Haggai 2:7-8; Zechariah 14:14). This will delight the Israelites, as well as surprise them, since throughout history the nations have taken from Israel.

These verses hardly found fulfillment in the return from Babylon (the regathering is worldwide), or in the church (the church goes to the world), though a foreview of fulfillment is unmistakable. Liberal interpreters favor the first option, and most Christian interpreters have favored the second. The second is the amillennial position. Unsaved people may be coming to Christians to learn about God now, but they are hardly exalting Christians in the world and making them rich to the extent envisioned here. The typical reaction to the preaching of the gospel now is rejection of it, and often persecution follows for its preachers (cf. 1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3).

"In the end, God will keep his ancient promises in the land of Israel and there will demonstrate his rule within history." [Note: Oswalt, The Book . . . 40-66, p. 539.]

Verse 5

Israel will rejoice and be amazed because the nations will bring their wealth and give it to Israel. The nations will do this because Israel will be the Lord’s vehicle for bringing the knowledge of God to them. The gifts are really in praise of the Lord, not to gain Israel’s favor, or to repay her for her sufferings, or because she is a superior race.

Verse 6

Gentiles will also come from other parts of the world bringing treasure to honor Israel. The visit of the wise men at Jesus’ birth suggests a fulfillment (cf. Matthew 2:11). The visit of the Magi should have alerted Israel to the identity of Jesus. But again, the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem was only a foretaste of what Isaiah predicted would come to all Israel. Isaiah saw camels as thick as flies on meat covering the land around Jerusalem. These Gentiles will express thanks that Israel has brought the Word of God to them, in its written, spoken, and incarnate forms.

Verse 7

Isaiah saw other nations, ancient enemies of Israel, bring offerings typical of their way of life. Evidently there will be a literal temple and altar in Zion then (cf. Ezekiel 40-43). The sacrifices offered there will be for thanksgiving to God. God will glorify the millennial temple as the focal point of worship at this time. Isaiah’s vision of the future Jerusalem included a temple and altar (cf. Isaiah 60:13), but John’s vision of the future Jerusalem excluded both (Revelation 21:22). The solution is probably that Isaiah described the millennial city, and John the eternal city.

Verse 8

The prophet further saw people coming from the west as thick as clouds into the Promised Land. They reminded him of doves flying to their dovecotes. Who are these, he asked?

Verse 9

They are a combination of Gentiles and Israelites who have come to bring gifts and to escort God’s chosen people back to their land. Watts believed King Artaxerxes of Persia was the speaker in Isaiah 60:9-10 a, Isaiah 60:11-12, Isaiah 60:14, Isaiah 60:17 a, Isa_60:18, and Isa_60:21 a, as well as in Isaiah 61:4; Isaiah 61:6-7; Isaiah 61:10-11. [Note: Watts, Isaiah 34-66, pp. 291-92, 296-97.] Gentiles and Israelites are waiting for God because they have come to worship Him for what He has done in Israel’s experience and character. Israel will finally fulfill her calling as a kingdom of priests, bringing all other kingdoms to the Holy One of Israel-her God (Exodus 19:5-6).

Verse 10

Foreigners will rebuild Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 56:3; Isaiah 56:6), having formerly torn it down, and will minister to Israel in many ways. Peace will have arrived (cf. Isaiah 60:17; Isaiah 57:19). Formerly God disciplined His people for their sins, but He will bless them because He provided forgiveness for them.

"Any fulfillment of this after the Exile was only partial. The Persians made possible the rebuilding of the walls but did not do it themselves (Isaiah 60:10). Its true fulfillment lay beyond the OT era altogether." [Note: Grogan, p. 330.]

Verses 10-16

The nations serving Israel 60:10-16

Now the relationship of the nations to Israel becomes even clearer. The Gentiles will come to Israel because of her God, will submit themselves to Israel because of what the Lord will do for her, and will serve the Lord with Israel.

Verse 11

Open gates indicate peaceful conditions. Isaiah foresaw the nations, led by their kings, bringing their riches into Jerusalem to offer them as gifts to the Lord (cf. Revelation 21:24-27). The kings follow the lead of another, probably the Lord Himself, who draws their allegiance. This will be a great triumphant procession.

Verse 12

Any nation that does not submit to Israel’s greatness in this time will suffer destruction. Thus worship of the Lord and thanksgiving for Israel’s mediatory ministry will be voluntary, and some may not choose to submit.

Verse 13

The nations will bring all their finest products to Jerusalem as gifts to the Lord. For example, Lebanon will probably bring its famous forest products, as it did for Solomon, who built the first temple in Jerusalem. This will all result in the beautification of the temple (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:2) and, therefore, the glorification of Israel’s God.

Verse 14

The descendants of Israel’s persecutors (cf. Isaiah 39:7) will end up bowing down to the Israelites, honoring them and submitting to them (cf. Esther 8:2). They will acknowledge the Israelites collectively as Zion, the city of Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel.

Does this mean that "Zion" is a figure for the future redeemed Israelites and not the name of a real city? Certainly Zion does stand for the future Israelites collectively in Isaiah, but it was also a synonym for Jerusalem, a real city, throughout the Old Testament. Here Isaiah employed the collective meaning of the name.

"The earthliness of this setting seems to preclude assigning it to heaven." [Note: Archer, p. 651.]

Verses 15-16

The prophet summarized what he had said. In the past Israel had been abandoned, hated, and isolated from other nations. In the future she would be an object of pride and joy in the world forever. She would draw from the wealth of the nations, and she would know through her experience that Yahweh, the Holy One of Jacob, was her Savior and Redeemer. It is easy for us to see how Gentile nations will sustain Israel in the future, because ever since 1948, certain Gentile nations have sustained the modern state of Israel.

"This is the point that God has been trying to drive home to Israel, and through Israel, to the world, at least since ch. 40. Chs. 1-39 show that he is the Sovereign of the nations, but chs. 40-66 show that he is the Savior of the world. He begins to show this in chs. 40-48, by predicting the deliverance from Babylon. But chs. 49-55 show that the real need of Israel is for deliverance from sin. Now in chs. 56-66 he is showing that Israel’s witness to God’s saviorhood is to, and for, the world." [Note: Oswalt, The Book . . . 40-66, p. 551.]

Verse 17

Everything will be better in Israel’s millennial future. The contrasts appear to be with regard to Zion (Isaiah 60:14). Peace and righteousness will be the governing principles in that city. If peace and righteousness are the slave drivers and inspectors, what will the best be? Another view is that Isaiah personified peace and righteousness as vice-regents of God, in order to indicate that human leaders would no longer be necessary. The Israelites could not produce peace and righteousness (Isaiah 59:9-13), but God will provide them.

Verses 17-22

Contrasts with the present 60:17-22

Verse 18

Israel will be safe and secure in her land, in contrast to her former vulnerable and insecure condition. Zion’s defense will be the salvation that God provides. Her gates will be so full of praise (i.e., people who praise) that potential enemies cannot enter.

Verses 19-20

The glory of the Lord would outshine that of the sun and moon. He would provide for His people the light and health which these heavenly bodies formerly produced (cf. Revelation 21:4; Revelation 21:23). The night, because of its darkness, is a time of mourning (cf. Psalms 30:5), but there will be no mourning for Israel because God will enlighten and brighten her.

Verse 21

All the Israelites will be righteous, whereas formerly they had been unrighteous, in their standing and in their state. And they will possess the Promised Land forever, rather than having to leave it because of their sins (cf. Genesis 17:8). Young wrote, "Inheritance of the land is a symbol of the future spiritual blessings that come to man through Christ." [Note: Young, 3:456.] If this is so, why did God give specific geographical boundaries for the Promised Land several times after Israel possessed the land partially? Israel would be the plant that God had nourished, and would now be healthy and thriving (cf. Isaiah 4:1; Isaiah 5:1-7; Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 27:2-6; Isaiah 53:2; John 15:1-5). Her condition would glorify Him.

Verse 22

The Lord would also bless His people with fertility so they would become the ancestors of numerous descendants. He would make of them what He had made of Abraham (cf. Isaiah 51:2). With posterity come glory, influence, and power (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31). The guarantor of these promises was Yahweh, who brought Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land (cf. Exodus 20:2). He will bring these promises into fulfillment quickly in their proper time (cf. Galatians 4:4).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 60". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/isaiah-60.html. 2012.
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