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This chapter contains the full cup of consolation given to Zion, after all her woes and long afflictions in the dark ages of the church. But it is, as Matthew Henry judiciously observes, “the gospel church expressly called Zion and Jerusalem, and under that idea, all believers are expressly said to come to it. Hebrews 12:22. Ye are come to mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; which text of St. Paul serves as a key to this prophecy.” This passage is likewise alluded to in Revelation 21:24. The ancient Jews have understood it in their Targums and ancient books, as relating to the Messiah. Vide Bereschit Rabba, in Genesis 25:6; Genesis 41:44.
Isaiah 60:1 . Arise, shine, for thy light is come. The prophet had said, two verses before, The Redeemer shall come to Zion; to them that turn from transgression in Jacob. Therefore, arise, shine, for thy light is come. Christ the sun of righteousness, and the glory of God, is risen upon thee. It is the voice of the bridegroom rousing the bride. This is my covenant, saith the Lord, as in the words before. These words speak to the church in all succeeding ages. They stirred up the saints in Isaiah’s time; they cheered them in the Babylonian captivity with the hope that Jerusalem should be rebuilt, even by the sons of strangers, and by the largesses of the Persian kings. But to the christian church the curtains are undrawn, for the dayspring from on high hath visited us.
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. This was promised in Isaiah 40:5, and that all flesh should see it together; yea, and in the course of a few years. The apostles saw this excellent glory on the mount, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He is the Shekinah on the mercyseat, now dwelling in the christian church. He shines out in all the glory of the gospel, to illuminate the mind, and enlighten the gentiles. He hallows the heart by regeneration, when we behold as in a mirror his glory. He is also the light and glory of the celestial world. Therefore rise, oh Zion, from a winterly state, and shine in all the beauty and glory of righteousness.
Isaiah 60:2 . Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. After the apostasy from the covenant of Noah, by which they knew God, but obstinately gave his glory to those that were no gods, he gave the heathens up to judicial blindness, and to work all manner of uncleanness with greediness. The books of the christian fathers on the superstition of the gentiles, and the letters of our modern missionaries, confirm all that St. Paul has said of the gentiles. But how striking is the confirmation of prophecy, that the Lord should arise on Zion, and cause the gospel-law to go forth from Jerusalem, a figure of the heavenly city.
Isaiah 60:3 . The gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Yea, all kings shall fall down before thee. Psalms 72:11. Those kings bow down to Christ, the King of kings, for Judea had no glory of this kind.
Isaiah 60:5 . Thy heart shall fear, and be enlarged, because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee. Jeremiah uses a similar phrase: They shall fear and tremble for all the goodness, and all the prosperity that I will procure unto her: Isaiah 33:9. We humbly expect and hope, that when the missionaries shall have penetrated into the heart of gentile kingdoms, there shall be such an influx of converts as shall astound the church with joy.
Isaiah 60:7 . All the flocks of Kedar the rams of Nebaioth (descendants of Ishmael) shall come up with acceptance on mine altar. While the glorious clouds were transporting their showers for the hill of Zion in the latter day, they let some drops fall on Jerusalem, after the Babylonian captivity, when the sons of strangers should help in building her walls, and Persian kings minister to her recovery. But we must not stop here, for of the true Zion it is said as follows.
Isaiah 60:12 . The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish. Such is the current language of the prophets. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands, shall break in pieces all the other kingdoms, and shall become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth. Daniel 2:34-35. When the Son is seated on the holy hill of Zion, he shall shiver the rebellious as a potter’s vase with a rod of iron. Psalms 2:9. He rejected the Jews for rejecting the gospel. The bloody empire of the Romans he shook to pieces with the earthquake of civil wars, and avenged the blood of his saints. Revelation 6:12. The enormous limbs of the Ottoman empire, once the scourge of the Arian church, drop from the body by the weight of its crimes. The same sentence seems to be passed against the old governments of India, which neither admit wisdom, nor reform tyranny. The issues shall be the same with all who will not have the Redeemer to reign over them.
Isaiah 60:16 . Thou shalt also suck the milk of the gentiles. The Chaldaic turns it, Thou shalt be satiated with the riches of the people. This is coincident with the promise in Isaiah 54:3. Thy seed shall inherit the gentiles.
Isaiah 60:17 . For brass I will bring gold, and for iron, silver. This indicates a progress from indigence to a state of glory and affluence beyond conception.
Isaiah 60:18 . Violence shall no more be heard in thy land. When the Prince of peace shall have vanquished the world by the power of truth and grace, the sons of Zion shall be as much ashamed of war as highwaymen are of swords and pistols. This was the original state of society in the golden age, sung by all the poets, and favoured by prophets and divines. In the dark ages, our venerable Bede wrote a book, Oracula Sibylina, where the age of peace is sung in beautiful verse. Fenelon, speaking of the same age, says of Betica, “Human blood has never stained that land, and the blood of lambs is rarely shed there.” Jamais le sang humain n’ a rougi cette terre, à peine y voiton couler celui des agneaux.
What then must we think of Hugo Grotius, who can see nothing in this chapter but what belongs to the Jews after their return from Babylon! What can be the ultimate aim of him, and of our new translators of the sacred text, but to substitute philosophy for revelation. Not a word can we find in all their works of the preëxistence of Christ, of original sin, of the real atonement, as stated in Leviticus 16:0., nor a word about the work of the Holy Spirit on the heart! When the Son of man cometh, at which they now sneer, shall he find faith on the earth?
Isaiah 60:19 . The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light to thee, την νυκτα , by night. The old Hebrew sun is already darkened, her moon has waned, her stars have fallen; but in that age the light of God’s countenance shall shine with full-orbed splendour on the church, and in every form of covenant grace; and so brilliantly as to eclipse, in some sort, the orbs of heaven. Language, aided with all the powers of rhetoric, cannot say more.
Isaiah 60:20 . Thy sun shall no more go down. The sun of Zion shall set no more, when Jehovah, her Messiah, shall become her everlasting light. The winterly ages of sorrow and sighing shall flee away: Isaiah 35:10. In some more glorious manner than we can now conceive, the Lord will be present with the church. Some have said, in his bodily presence, to live and reign with the saints a thousand years. On a subject so involved in figures, we fear to speak decidedly. Zion will then sing this song, Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee: Isaiah 12:6. His Glory shall enter in by the east gate, and fill the sanctuary. Ezekiel 43:4-5. The Lord shall come in glory to avenge himself on the enemies of Zion. Zechariah 14:1-11. The full choir shall sing in heaven, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them. Revelation 21:3.
Isaiah 60:21 . Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land, or the earth, as the same word is rendered in Malachi 4:6, by longevity, as in Isaiah 65:20-21. But while surrounded with all this exuberance of language, and brilliancy of figure, we must not forget that men will always be born in sin, and have need of conversion. They must also prepare the luxuriant harvests by agriculture, and provide clothing for themselves, by arts and by manufactures. On this head, the promise of the Lord prevents our prayers. I the Lord will hasten it in its time.
In addition to the general reflections which follow at the end of the book, we must notice here, that the presence and glory of Christ is the best consolation of the church. Sweet is that voice, Thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Fear not, oh Zion, for I am with thee.
When the Lord comes, the nations will follow; kings and gentiles shall come to thy brightness. They shall fly as a cloud, and as doves to the windows. The abundance of the sea shall come to thee. The gentiles, long walking in darkness, and groaning under the yoke of demons, shall hail the joyful day. The glory of the gospel shall open light and life and righteousness on a guilty world. The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God, when he shall clothe his saints with salvation.
The earth, as well as the heavens, shall rejoice in all the righteousness which God shall rain down upon his people. Population shall multiply as the sand; cities shall rise, and their gates shall be praise; for the elders that sit there shall be characterized by peace and righteousness, as the prophet had said before, in chap. 35. The glory of Zion in the latter day shall never be followed by a dark day. Thy sun shall no more go down, nor thy moon wane, for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light. The Lord says not, that she shall not be tried: but what can the enemy do without, while glory dwells within. Hail Zion! this is thy hope; and it is near. The Lord will hasten it in its time.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 60". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent