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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 62

 

 

Introduction

Chapter 62 The Anointed One Will Guarantee the Future of God’s True People.

The first question raised by this chapter is again as to who is speaking. Is it the Anointed One, or the prophet himself, or is it Yahweh? While it is not unknown for God to speak of Himself in the third person, the constant reference to Him here might be seen as against seeing Him as the speaker. However the urgency of the situation and the suggested nearness of God acting point beyond Isaiah. Isaiah knows that there are judgments to come before that time can draw near. Thus we are probably to see here words of the Anointed One in Isaiah 62:1-5. The remainder of the chapter probably refers to the activity and cry of Isaiah.


Verses 1-5

The Anointed One Announcing Blessing On Zion (Isaiah 62:1-5).

The Anointed One promises His continued activity on behalf of God’s people in their association with Zion (see note on Isaiah 59:20) so that they may be a true witness to God and enjoy Yahweh’s favour. Here the idea of Zion (60) and the idea of the Anointed One (61) are combined. The Anointed One has come in order to establish Zion.

Isaiah 62:1-2

‘For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace,

And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

And her salvation as a lamp which burns.

And the nations will see your righteousness,

And all kings your glory,

And you will be called by a new name,

Which the mouth of Yahweh will name.’

The Anointed One first declares His intentions to bring home the concept of Zion to the nations. He will not rest until the nations know that Yahweh is there, reigning in glory among His true people. He will not rest until they see the glory of the Zion that is calling to them. Then He declares to them the certain fulfilment of what He will accomplish. His central purpose is the establishment of all that Zion means (see notes on Isaiah 59:20; Isaiah 60 introduction), and He will not cease His endeavours or give Himself rest until all His people are a shining witness of the effectiveness of His work; until all see their righteousness shining out (Matthew 5:16) and all behold their salvation which will be like a burning lamp.

‘For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace.’ The verb can refer to action rather than words (see Judges 18:9; Psalms 107:29), which would then parallel the second line. Alternately it may indicate the determined nature of His teaching, or the equally determined nature of His intercession on His people’s behalf (compare Isaiah 62:6). He cannot rest until His words have been successful (compare Isaiah 61:1-2; Isaiah 42:3-4; Isaiah 50:4) on behalf of His people. Here Zion and Jerusalem are used to denote the purified, faithful Israel, but in the whole context of God’s presence with them and among them.

‘Until her righteousness goes forth as vivid brightness, and her salvation as a lamp which burns.’ Once again salvation and righteousness are paramount. Both go together. There can be no salvation until they are accounted righteous, and that can only be through that salvation. Both go forward hand in hand. Then once righteousness has been imputed (Isaiah 53:11; Isaiah 4:3) and imparted it will be like a shining brightness, a vivid brightness before them. They will be a fit witness to the glory of Yahweh. Their lights will shine out before men who will see their good works and glorify their Father Who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). The consequences of their deliverance and salvation will also be a burning light, in a similar way to the lives of men like John the Baptiser (John 5:35). The basic thought is of a world in darkness, unable to see, until the brightness of the light shines on them out of the darkness, revealed in the purity of life of God’s people.

‘And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory, and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of Yahweh will name.’ Such will be the brightness of their lives that nations and kings will see and wonder, and there will be given to them a new name depicting the glorious change that has occurred in them, a name given to them by Yahweh. For so wonderful will be their transformation that only Yahweh can provide the name. They will be His workmanship. The giving of a new name indicates total transformation. They will be those named by Yahweh (as Peter was named by Jesus as the rock-man).

The giving of such a new name is a theme of Revelation (Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 19:13; Isaiah 19:16; Isaiah 22:4). Indeed John took up the themes of Isaiah in his contrast of Christ named as King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) and Babylon named as the Mother of Harlots (Revelation 17:5).

All this was what Jesus claimed to have come to accomplish. He came as the light of the world that men who followed Him might not walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12), that they might become ‘sons of light’ (John 12:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:5), that they too might be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14 compare Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:12).

Isaiah 62:3-5

‘You will be a crown of beauty in the hand of Yahweh,

And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

You will no more be termed, Forsaken,

Nor will your land any more be termed Desolate,

But you will be called, My Delight Is In Her (Hephzibah),

And your land, Married (Beulah),

For Yahweh delights in you,

And your land will be married.’

For as a young man marries a virgin,

So shall your sons marry you,

And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,

So will your God rejoice over you.’

Here the total transformation is described. God’s people will also become a royal crown of beauty in Yahweh’s hand. It is not on His head because that would depict that royal authority belongs to His people, it is in His hand because they are under His care and protection, because it shows that they are His own private possession, and because it represents the royal worth and dignity that is theirs. The thought may also be that He has fashioned it with His own hands.

In the past they have been Forsaken and Desolate, but this will be so no longer, for instead they will be called My Delight Is In Her (hephzibah - in contrast to forsaken) and Married (beulah - in contrast to desolate). When God’s true people feel forsaken and desolate they can take comfort in these words, that in their new state they are those in whom God delights and who are bound to Him by the closest of ties.

Indeed Zion may be sure that it is Yahweh Who delights in her, and that she will be married both to her many sons, (indicating the profusion of future blessing and the fact that her ‘children’ will acknowledge her as a faithful virgin), and to Yahweh Who is her heavenly bridegroom. Her purity is recognised by both man and God.

While the illustration of the sons marrying a virgin mother is hardly realistic literally, its point is clear. Zion will have become pure and her sons, her people, will recognise the fact and join with her purity. Her children will be pure in all respects and in all relationships. But of far greater import is it that Yahweh also will delight in her and rejoice over her like a bridegroom to a bride.

Note the use of the name Hephzibah. That was the name of Manasseh’s mother and may point therefore to a date in his reign for this prophecy as Isaiah uses a well known name to illustrate his point..


Verses 6-12

Isaiah Calls On His Followers To Be Watchmen And Preparers of the Way (Isaiah 62:6-12).

These words probably to be seen as the words of Isaiah, although they could till be the words of the Anointed One. Both Isaiah and the Anointed One would seek to inspire God’s people to pray.

The Appointment of Watchmen (Isaiah 62:6-9).

Isaiah 62:6

‘I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem,

They will never hold their peace day nor night,

You who are Yahweh’s remembrancers,

Take for yourselves no rest,

And give him no rest until he establish,

And until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Isaiah calls on the true people of God to constant intercession. He has set them as watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, perhaps literally. But ‘watchmen’ could also be translated ‘guardians’. Either way they are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:7-8). (A by-product to this would therefore be the assumption that the walls of Jerusalem are still standing, but Isaiah is not necessarily speaking literally). And they are to intercede unceasingly day and night until it is turned into the true city of God which brings praise to the earth.

This is in fact the basis of the Lord’s Prayer. May your name be hallowed (by the bringing about of Your purposes - Ezekiel 36:23), may your Kingly Rule come, may Your will be done. This should be the daily burden of the churches.

In this last section of Isaiah, from the coming of the Redeemer to Zion in Isaiah 59:20 onwards, the people of God are regularly thought of in terms of Zion/Jerusalem. Thus the city is acting as a depiction of God’s people in their association with their God as present among them and reigning over them. It represents ‘those who turn from transgression in Jacob’ (Isaiah 59:12) who are now wrapped up in God. God’s concern is not that an earthly city become famous, but that what is depicted in terms of it, His glorious presence and His powerful reign, and the conjunction with Him of the whole true people of God as His priests and servants, should bring praise throughout the earth.

Note on the Use of Israel and Zion.

Both ‘Israel’ (Isaiah 1:3), and ‘the daughters of Zion’ (Isaiah 1:8), were introduced to us in chapter 1 as indicating the nominal people of God in the sad state that they were in, with Israel as the epitome of disobedience, while Zion itself was the harlot city (Isaiah 1:21) which was yet destined to be redeemed and filled with converts (Isaiah 1:26-27). A third alternative name is ‘Jacob’ (Isaiah 2:5). The names ‘Israel’ (and ‘Jacob’) necessarily connected them with their forefathers, but Zion is primarily the name in connection with the need for transformation. The idea of redemption is clearly connected with both, although with regard to ‘Israel’ only in 41-49. Outside those chapters it largely applies to Zion/Jerusalem (Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 52:3; Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 59:20; Isaiah 60:16) or is used without appellation.

In regard to this it will be noted that the most extreme language used in order to depict the sinfulness and degradation of the nominal people of God is applied to them as related to ‘Zion’ (Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 3:16-17; Isaiah 4:4). Israel are disobedient, Zion is degraded.

With regard to the use of the terms from Chapter 40 onwards it can surely not be without significance and intention that after its continual use chapter by chapter, once the Servant has been stated to be the true ‘Israel’ in Isaiah 49:1-6, committed to the restoring of wayward Israel, the use of ‘Israel as a direct designation ceases (it is almost solely afterwards used as a genitive and never as a direct designation of His people). Having been previously used in abundance, and in every chapter from 40-49, it is replaced by centring everything on Zion (Isaiah 49:14; Isaiah 51:3; Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 52:1-2; Isaiah 52:7-8 etc), or sometimes Jacob.

Part of the reason for this is the close connection of ‘Israel’ with ‘the Servant’. Israel are the seed of Abraham, and the Servant is the fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham. Once therefore ‘Israel’ has come to represent the Servant as one man (Isaiah 49:3) the name Israel as a designation for the many is dropped. Another reason is that redemption from degradation fits in better with the idea of Zion.

Against the background of the whole of heaven and earth it is now ‘Zion’ which epitomises Israel/Judah who are represented by it as ‘My people’ (Isaiah 51:16). Interestingly from chapter Isaiah 52:13 onwards, when the Servant suffers for His people, until mention of His return as Redeemer ( Isaiah 59:20), no designation is used, the people simply being connected with Jacob (Isaiah 58:1; Isaiah 58:14). They are ‘the barren one’ (Isaiah 54:1). Then from Isaiah 59:20 onwards, on the coming of the Redeemer, Zion is central, for Zion points to the everlasting future. It is destined to be the heavenly city, the everlasting city (Isaiah 60:19-21). In the thought of Isaiah Zion is to be Yahweh’s city, in which He makes known His presence among His people (Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 26:1-4; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 4:2-6), in contrast with the world city (Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 24:12; Isaiah 26:5-6), the city of idolatry (Isaiah 47:8-13). But Zion is nowhere directly called ‘the Servant’. It represents the sinful city which becomes the dwellingplace of Yahweh among His redeemed people, and incorporates those redeemed people, thus fulfilling the witnessing task of the Servant.

End of Note.

‘You who are Yahweh’s remembrancers.’ These ‘remembrancers’, those who call on God to remember His promises, and who remind God of the state of His people and of the world, are, in a similar way to the Anointed One (Isaiah 62:1), to take no rest until God’s purposes are brought about and He is honoured through His true people.

Note the true purpose of prayer and its emphasis, and the requirement for continuance in it. When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer the first part was concentrated on such intercession, that God’s name be hallowed (sanctified) through the bringing about of His purposes (compare Ezekiel 36:23), that God’s Kingly Rule might come and that His will might be done on earth, as in Heaven. That was His concentration. He was one of Yahweh’s remembrancers.

He stressed indeed that prayer for our general lifestyle was not necessary because our Father knew of our daily needs. And this emphasis was carried on into the rest of the New Testament. How different His emphasis from many a prayer list today. God graciously allows our prayers but they are often a sign of our immaturity in faith.

So God’s true people are called on to be Remembrancers, to be watchmen for God, and to cry to God day and night for the final bringing about of His purposes.

Isaiah 62:8

‘Yahweh has sworn by his right hand,

And by the arm of his strength,

Surely I will no more give your corn,

To be food for your enemies,

And strangers will not drink your wine,

For which you have laboured,

But those who have garnered it will eat it,

And praise Yahweh,

And those who have gathered it will drink it,

In the courts of my sanctuary.’

There is no more heartbreaking situation than to have laboured and then to find the fruits of that labour unfairly wrested from us by another. But the world is a place of greed and selfishness, and there are always those who will strive to obtain what is not theirs. It was the constant experience of small nations. None experienced this more than Judah in Isaiah’s time as Assyria again and again entered the territory of Judah in predatory raids, preparatory to the invasion that resulted in the investment of Jerusalem, and no doubt similar raids also came later, partly through Babylon, prior to Manasseh’s submission.

However, that will not be so in God’s new world. There selfishness and greed will have been done away. Predatory enemies will have ceased. Each person will enjoy the fruits of his life and activity in the presence of God. It will be Paradise restored. The symbolic nature of the promises is brought out in that all consumption of wine is to be in the courts of His sanctuary. This could not be literal. The thought was rather that wherever they were they would drink it as in the presence and conscious awareness of their Protector, just as those who ate would praise Yahweh. For they would live in the presence of God.

The Call To Readiness And The Certainty of Fulfilment (Isaiah 62:10-12).

Isaiah finishes this section from Isaiah 61:1 onwards with a call to respond to God’s initiative. His people are to prepare the way, ready for God to act.

Isaiah 62:10

‘Go through, go through the gates,

Prepare the way of the people,

Cast up, cast up the highway, gather out the stones,

Lift up a banner for the peoples.’

While the work of salvation is all of God it is the privilege of His people to have their part to play in it. They are to prepare the way for Him to act. Thus they are not to sit in their Jerusalem but are to go outside the gates and prepare the way for the return to God of those who are scattered. Zion is to make a way back to Zion. They are to build up the highway, remove stumblingblocks, and raise a banner calling the people to come. Theirs is the work of evangelism. The double repetition stresses the urgency of the task. Note the active participation required. They are to put great effort into making the way for people as easy as possible by every means at their command.

But the requirement is not literal. The preparation is to be spiritual preparation. If God’s people are to come to Him the way must be prepared.

Isaiah 62:11-12

‘Behold Yahweh has proclaimed to the end of the earth,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,

Behold your salvation comes.”,

Behold his reward is with him,

And his recompense before him,

And they will call them the holy people,

The redeemed of Yahweh,

And you will be called Sought Out,

A city not forsaken.’

Note God’s call to the end of the earth. The scattered exiles around the world, ‘the daughter of Zion’, are to be informed (by whom we are not told. Possibly Isaiah sent messengers to leaders of communities) that the time of Yahweh’s deliverance is coming. Note the threefold repetition of ‘behold’. It is a startling event. They are to ‘behold’ Yahweh’s proclamation. They are to ‘behold’ the coming Deliverer and His deliverance. And they are to ‘behold’ what blessings the Deliverer has obtained in His people.

‘Behold your salvation comes.’ This salvation is a ‘He’. The One Who comes is the author of their salvation and its mediator. He is the One Who bore their transgressions and offered Himself a guilt offering on their behalf (Isaiah 53:1-12). He is the One Who makes them to be accounted righteous (Isaiah 53:11). He is the One Who saves by His mighty arm (Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 62:8)

His call is worldwide. All God’s people are to be stirred. The Saviour is coming to receive His reward and recompense, and those who respond will thus become the holy people, the redeemed of Yahweh. Then they will seek out Zion, which will be called Sought Out, the city not forsaken. Pictured in terms of one huge return from exile of a believing people, something which as far as we know only marginally occurred after the Exile, and never since, we have rather a picture of what would be the result of the coming of Salvation in Jesus, and the spread of the Gospel, with those responding coming to the heavenly equivalent of Zion, the truly free Zion (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22), and there being made holy as the redeemed of Yahweh. They will have come home to Zion (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22).

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 62:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/isaiah-62.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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