Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 60

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3

Light Breaks Through

Isaiah 60-62 summarizes the message of Isaiah 58-66. They show us the end result of Israel as the people that the LORD will restore and save in order to show the salvation of God in this world. We clearly see that this salvation is not the result of the work of Israel itself, but of what the LORD works.

As a result of what has just preceded this (Isaiah 58-59), suddenly an encouraging message comes to Zion. For a long time it has remained in darkness and desolation, but the glory of the realm of peace is coming. The new day is coming and “the sun of righteousness” will shine (Malachi 4:2). This is also true in the sinner’s life when the light shines in his heart when he hears and obeys the call of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

The light comes to God’s people in the Person of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 49:6; John 1:9). The command “arise” is a word that contains the power to obey (Isaiah 60:1; cf. Mark 3:5) and contrasts with their situation as described in the previous chapter (Isaiah 59:10). Zion must rise from the dust, in which it has lain for so long as in a death sleep, to shine, for her Light, the Giver of light, comes, through which the glory of the LORD passes upon her (cf. Isaiah 2:5). It speaks of the restoration of Israel to finally be God’s beacon of light, a lighthouse for the nations.

Isaiah 60:2 reveals the condition of the nations in their thick darkness that will be there especially when the antichrist reigns. Normally there is already little knowledge of God among the nations. Only the eternal power of God in creation is known to them (Romans 1:20). But even that will disappear completely in the years under the reign of the antichrist. Through this man, the antichrist, there will be an unprecedented eclipse about God. This man declares himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Genesis 3:5; Acts 12:21-Isaiah :). That darkness will remain until the LORD will rise upon His people and His glory will be seen upon them. Then the nations will come to that light (Isaiah 60:3).

Until the Lord comes to take His church to Himself, the light of the gospel shines in the individual hearts, while the nations are still in darkness. This gospel will not bring all nations to receive the light. Only when Israel is restored the nations will receive the light of God’s testimony and acknowledge the truth about the living God and His Christ. In Psalm 67 we find the prayer of the faithful remnant of Israel: “God be gracious to us and bless us, [And] cause His face to shine upon us— Selah. That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God;” (Psalms 67:1-Leviticus :).

Verses 4-7

Brought to Israel

The nations will not only go up to Jerusalem as the center, but they will also bring back God’s people there from all the countries to which they are scattered (Isaiah 60:4; Isaiah 49:22-:). Here it is about the lost ten tribes. These Gentiles will handle them with care. What the people of Israel will then experience will give them great, moving joy (Isaiah 60:5). “Thrill and rejoice” is literally “tremble and open wide”. The enormous change in their situation will not only give them great joy, but also a widening of their hearts to understand the infinite goodness of God.

The national revival of Israel has been promised before (Isaiah 26:19). We see this also in the vision of the valley with the bones (Ezekiel 37:1-2 Chronicles :; Ezekiel 37:21-Song of Solomon :). There we see that not only the two tribes realm, but also the ten tribes realm will be restored.

The nations will make an effort to provide God’s people with all the riches (Isaiah 60:5-Joshua :). “A multitude of camels”, a symbol of a thriving economy, will be used to bring all that is valuable to Israel. They come “from Sheba”, the land from which a queen once came to visit Solomon, also with “camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones” (1 Kings 10:1-Exodus :). Just as when Israel carried with them the riches of Egypt at its redemption (Exodus 12:35-Zephaniah :), in the future the ten tribes laden with the wealth of the nations will return (Isaiah 60:5).

The peoples living in the immediate vicinity of Israel will be the first to come to faith. The names mentioned here: Midian, Ephah, Sheba, Kedar and Nebaioth, speak of the Arab countries that are still Muslim countries today, but will also come to faith in Christ in the future. They will bring gold, frankincense and cattle in abundance to Israel.

“Gold and frankincense” are also brought to the Child Jesus by the wise men of the East as representatives of the nations when He was born (Matthew 2:11). Matthew also mentions myrrh, which is missing here. Myrrh is in place there, because it speaks of the suffering that the born King of the Jews will have to endure at His first coming. But there is no more suffering here, because at His second coming He reigns in glory. Gold speaks of His Divine glory, He is the Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), the God with us. Frankincense speaks of His glory as Man, He is the Man Jesus, who saves His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Yet also in the realm of peace there will always be the memory of the work that Christ accomplished on the cross. This is what the great crowd of “flocks” and “rams” speaks of who are given to the people of God to bring an abundance of sacrifices on the altar of the new temple (Isaiah 60:7). The fragrance of this sacrifice will surround and fill this house and give “glory” to the “glorious house” of the LORD. This going up “with acceptance” will give God’s house the greatest splendor and glory.

Verses 8-16

Nations and Kings Serve Israel

The question in Isaiah 60:8 might well be realized in the large numbers of passengers arriving in the land with planes in our time. This makes it possible for large numbers of Jews to return to their land in a short period of time. Yet in our days they are only a foretaste of the great return to the land that will take place after the Lord Jesus has come to earth, defeated the enemies and established His kingdom.

They will also come by ship from far away countries (Isaiah 60:9). The LORD will signal those lands to let His people go. This will not be by political decisions, but in a conscious act for the honor of the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. They will provide them with gold and silver. At the same time, the nations will personally help to rebuild the walls of the city (Isaiah 60:10; cf. Zechariah 6:15). The help of King Hiram of Tyre in the construction of the temple is a foreshadowing to the help the nations will give in the future in the building of the state of Israel (2 Chronicles 2:3-Nehemiah :).

Everything serves as a proof that the time of anger and discipline is over and that the LORD takes care of them now with pleasure. Therefore, the gates will be constantly open (Isaiah 60:11), indicating that there is no more evil to fear and that peace has come. The nations will be free to enter in order to pay homage to this people who were so tormented and oppressed at the time (cf. Revelation 21:25-Ezekiel :).

Isaiah 60:12 shows that God’s judgment will come during the realm of peace on nations that reveal a rebellious spirit and refuse to support Israel (Zechariah 14:17-Psalms :). However, nations that do support Israel will be blessed. A principle that we also see when God blesses Potiphar because of Joseph (Genesis 39:5). This proves that it is not yet about the eternal state, but about a state on earth where the Lord Jesus rules and where He punishes evil directly.

In Isaiah 60:13 in an intermediate sentence the joy of the LORD is mentioned that He has in the prospect of the glory of His sanctuary, the beautiful temple of the realm of peace. He calls it the “place of My feet”, which is the ark in the temple (1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7), indicating that He will dwell there (Exodus 25:21-Song of Solomon :). It is the place of His rest. The trees of Lebanon, here called “the glory of Lebanon”, will increase the splendor of the temple. Possibly we should think of planting them in the vicinity of the temple, or decorating avenues that lead to the temple.

Then the LORD in Isaiah 60:14 goes on to talk about the nations from whom they suffered so much in the great tribulation. Now their sons will come and bow down before them. Their fathers will be wiped out by the judgments in the day of the LORD. Also “all those who despised you” will bow down before them. These are the people who did not gather in a direct way against the LORD and His Anointed One, but despised God’s people in the time of enmity. These groups will call Jerusalem “the city of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel”. What a difference compared to the old days when people turned up their nose at them!

Instead of being abandoned and hated like an unloved woman (cf. Deuteronomy 21:15), the LORD will make the city “an everlasting pride, a joy from generation to generation” (Isaiah 60:15). Joy shall pass through the generations. The nations and their kings will make their life force available to this people, just as a mother gives milk to her child (Isaiah 60:16). Above all, they will no longer be blind, but will know that the LORD is their Savior and the Mighty One of Jacob their Redeemer.

Verses 17-20

The Glory of the City

Then Israel will be the richest land in the world. The city will be rebuilt with imperishable metals, on which weather and wind will have no influence (Isaiah 60:17). It is glorious and strong. Life in the city is determined by peace and righteousness. It will be pleasant to live there. Violence and destruction are absent (Isaiah 60:18). The walls of the city are called “salvation” because the city is impregnable and its inhabitants are perfectly safe. The gates of the city are called “praise” because God will continually glorify His Name there.

Sun and moon will still exist, but will no longer be necessary because of the great radiance that the presence of the LORD in the Shechina, the cloud of the glory in which He dwells, will cause and in which the church is also involved (Isaiah 60:19-Proverbs :; cf. Revelation 22:5; Matthew 17:2; Acts 26:13). This will truly be the victory of light over darkness. In such a state there is no longer room for such things as mourning and sadness. They will run away to make room for eternal joy (Isaiah 35:10). Joy is always experienced more intensely after a period of sorrow and trial.

Verses 21-22

Everything Is the Work of the LORD

In the realm of peace, the whole people of God on earth are only “righteous” ones (Isaiah 60:21). The ungodly mass has perished because of the judgments of God. What is left of God’s people are only those who have accepted the Messiah with repentance for their sins. This Israel of God will possess the land permanently.

In the past, Israel never possessed the entire inheritance, not even at the time of Solomon. But now the time has come for God’s promise to Israel to be fulfilled. They are the “branch” planted by the LORD. It is the word that is also used for Christ (Isaiah 11:1) and therefore indicates the unity of life between the people and their Messiah. They will radiate His glory to His glorification.

The people will bear exuberant fruit and grow into a mighty nation (Isaiah 60:22). “The smallest one” may mean a person with few or no children. “The least one” may mean the insignificant. The increase in population will also mean an increase in joyful fellowship. When the time comes, all this will happen at great speed. And it will certainly happen, for He, “the LORD”, will do it.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 60". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-60.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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