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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Isaiah 60

 

 

Verses 1-6

THE DAWNING OF GOD'S LIGHT, AND ITS AWAKENING CALL

Isa . Arise, shine, for thy light is come, &c.

We ourselves are a part fulfilment of this prophecy. It is Israel's God we worship, &c. The Church of today is what it is through the fulfilment of this prophecy in part; the Church of the future will be what it shall become through its fulfilment in completeness. Dropping the special reference to Israel, and viewing the text in its universal bearings, we have—

I. THE CHURCH ENLIGHTENED BY CHRIST'S COMING. Christ rose upon His Church like a great sun, imparting life, reviving courage, diffusing gladness, making bright with glory (Mal ). Christ gives light—

1. By imparting saving knowledge (see p. 569). He taught men of the Father. He showed the way of life. He put into the precepts of the law a depth of spiritual meaning never seen in them before. He could say of Himself (Joh ). He came with full knowledge of the Divine purpose. He spake with absolute authority.

2. By restoring the Church to power and influence. The godly in Israel were but a handful. They were down-trodden and despised. But Christ would reinstate it in power and influence among the nations; He would give it prosperity. This was bringing it light. Accordingly, a new spring-time came with the advent of the Saviour. He made His Church a power. Its power speedily became felt, and continues to this day. It is a permanent and influential factor in history—a thing of might.

3. By conferring on the Church the beauty of holiness. This may answer to the "glory" which the prophet declares "shall be seen upon it." Christ confers a glory on the Church by the spiritual gifts which He bestows, and by the graces which become visible in the character of His people through the operation of His Word and Spirit.

II. THE LIGHT OF THE CHURCH IN CONTRAST WITH THE SURROUNDING DARKNESS. The Church—believers, Christian nations, enlightened by Christ, stand in marked contrast with the darkness of the world around. The effect of the light is to make the darkness more visible. Contrast—

1. The enlightenment of faith with the boasted enlightenment of reason (1Co ). The world's cleverness did not lead it to the truth. It leads it often to reject the truth now that it has come. The boasted enlightenment of antiquity left it profoundly immoral. The theories, schemes, reasonings of our philosophers to-day leave the mind in just as great uncertainty on the chief questions of existence, and are powerless to effect moral regeneration.

2. The enlightenment of nations which have received the truth with the darkness of surrounding heathenism.

3. The enlightenment of individuals who have obeyed the truth with the darkness of those who are still in sin. The believer recognises in his own experience that, whereas he was once darkness, he is now light in the Lord. The change in his character manifests this to be true. The unbeliever, on the contrary, knows his state to be one of darkness, of moral evil, of unhappiness; through lack of true knowledge of God, of hopelessness as regards the future.

III. THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AND TO DIFFUSE HER LIGHT (Isa ; Isa 60:3). Missionary effort is of the essence of the Church's calling (Mar 16:16).—The Homiletical Library, vol. ii. pp. 25-27.

Isa . This stirring appeal springs from a soul full of exultant joy. To understand the depth of that exultation, observe that the prophet spoke in a time of the deepest gloom. Chapter 59:depicts the state of cold formalism into which the nation had sunk. In the very heart of that gloom, Isaiah saw a distant light gathering round the vision of the future Saviour (chap. Isa 59:20). He gazed on the dawning glory, and thence arose the cry, rousing as a trumpet call, "Arise, shine," &c. Taking these words into the full illumination of Christianity, they express, very beautifully, the awakening of a man to his true work in the world. Paul has himself given them that interpretation (Eph 5:14). Giving to the prophet's words that Christian meaning, they present to us a truth of immense value respecting the Christian's mission in the world. It is because the "glory of the Lord has risen on" him, that he is to reflect the light which has entered his soul.

I. THE DAWNING OF THE LIGHT. Man is not in a world of darkness, but blind in a world of light In the awakening hour we call conversion, God does seem to come nearer to the soul. The veil is lifted from the spirit's eye, and His nearness, for the first time, is discovered. The glory of God in Christ is in close contact with every human heart. Our little life is enveloped by the spiritual world. Just as in the opening of the eyes of the man who was blind from his birth, there appeared to him to be created a world of trees and flowers, whose beauty no idea had ever pictured—so in the solemn awakening hour of spiritual life, all the world of God's glory breaks in like a new creation. There are three requisites for the dawning of the light.

1. Spiritual penitence. Spiritual, because there is a repentance which is by no means a rising of God's light in the soul, but merely a transient motion. Mere regret and mere terror may be the beginning of the true, but it is not in itself true repentance. True repentance is the turning of the whole heart to God on the discovery of its own darkness and estrangement. Its chief cause is not so much the remembrance of guilty acts, as the feeling of a guilty heart.

2. Spiritual love. Spiritual, in contrast with that semi-pious emotion which is always convulsively striving to learn whether the soul loves God or not. Spiritual love is not so much the feeling of our love to God, as of His love to us. It is the love which has swept into the soul, subduing its whole being, and becoming its ruling emotion. This is requisite, because love is the insight of the soul. The man who has not this love is blind to the light of God.

3. Spiritual prayer. Spiritual, because living fellowship with the Father is meant. This is the full dawning of the light of God. He who lives in prayer, lives before the unveiled eternity. By penitence, therefore, the soul turns God-wards; by love its eye is opened; and by prayer it moves in the sunrise of the eternal light. This brings us to consider—

II. THE AWAKENING CALL,—"Arise, shine." When God is felt to be near a man thus—in penitence, love, and prayer, that man is imperatively bound to reflect the glory which has risen in his heart; to bear witness of the light which has pierced and transformed his soul. This is based on a great principle, viz., The deepest emotion in a man's nature must reveal itself in his life. There is no such thing as a life-long hypocrisy; sooner or later the master passion within will glow to a red heat, and the man will stand transparent before the eye of the world. In what way does the glory of the Lord thus manifest itself in life?

1. In the majesty of holiness. Holiness means, literally, separateness—separateness from sin, by dedication to God. Remember, you are to shine with that light;—you are to go bearing the glory of the Lord, and of the spiritual world, in your life.

2. In the beauty of unselfishness. The life of God is the life of the Cross in the heart. This is a manifestation of God's light in the soul. Let that light dawn, and men will see the Cross-life there. This is the light which the world so much needs to-day.

3. In the earnestness of your efforts for men. If the light has risen, you know its power. If the glory has dawned, you feel the realities of life. In that illumination, who can be slothfully calm? There is a spirit of so-called refinement abroad now, which makes men afraid to speak of those things which lie deepest in the heart. Was it so with the great ones of old? Was Paul afraid to speak in the name of Christ before Agrippa? Did he shrink before the fiery scorn of Festus? Go, then, bear witness of the light. Live out your prayers in daily actions.—E. L. Hull, B. A.: Sermons, First Series, pp. 61-70.

I. THERE IS A DECLARATION OF FACT: "Thy light is come." This prophecy was fulfilled when Christ was born. But we must pass beyond that fact, and recognise that there is a revelation to ourselves to-day as much as there was of yore. Thy light is come. What does it mean?

2. The prophecy is fulfilled in revealing to mankind the dignity and the destiny of man. Before the keen logicians, the wonderful thinkers, of Greece and Rome, there is always hanging a great gulf of blank despair. With us, the poorest character that we meet in rags, we in some measure respect. Man is now seen in the light of the faith of Jesus, &c.

II. AN EXHORTATION TO DUTY: Arise and shine. Be in active operation with Divine force, and permit the light of God to shine through the soul and life. That applies to the Church. 1. The Church is a witness of Divine truth. The Church shines when she witnesses the truth. A modern idea is that the Church is not to be so bigoted as positively to assert the truth. Christ said, "Go ye and teach all nations." When once the Church forgets her function of teaching the truth there will be heard "the beating of the unseen feet," Christ coming in the clouds to judge and to condemn. May He give us grace to recollect and to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.

2. The Church shines when she bears witness to the worship of Almighty God. The Church is the house of prayer, the home of Christian union, the school of souls in their constant intercourse with the Eternal God.

CONCLUSION.—The same truth applies to souls. Shine with the light that has come, is a command for souls more than for the Church. How shall we do it?

1. By keeping steadily before us the severe lines of duty that God lays down for us, and trying to do our duty; seeking grace to do it, &c. We shine when we try to hold the true estimate of character. Unless we are true to ourselves, and true to God, we may make grave mistakes. We must know ourselves by self-examination, by severe and careful watchfulness. It is in penitence, and in the progress that comes from penitence, that the soul shines in the light of Christ. Let us each begin with ourselves and not be content with broad views of Christianity.—Canon Knox-Little: Clerical World, vol. i., pp. 310-312.

I. The deep darkness which envelops the world without the Gospel (Isa ). "Gross darkness," a striking emblem of ignorance, error, sin, guilt, misery, danger.

1. The heathen world is in this darkness (Rom ).

2. In the midst of Christendom there is this darkness. Home heathenism. The condition, of the unregenerate.

II. The uprising of a glorious light for the transformation of the darkness. There is no redeeming principle in man's apostate nature. But for the prospect opened by the Gospel, there must be the darkness of final and absolute despair. Modern Materialism, &c., are as powerless as the ancient systems to reach the conscience and renew the heart (Isa ; Isa 45:8, and others). But glorious is the view here presented, &c.

1. The Gospel is "light," and this marks its divinity.

2. The Gospel is universally adapted—

(1.) To every stage of human society.

(2.) To the common wants of man—instruction, comfort, &c.

(3.) To every order of mind.

(4.) To every possible condition. The Gospel offers pardon for the guilty, &c.

3. The Gospel is diffusive, penetrating. Its progress in Apostolic times, &c. (Isa ). Not a dead letter, but "the power of God," &c. In how many dark places has "light sprung up" (Mat 4:16). It will be diffused till the whole world is flooded with its glorious light.

Conclusion.—Has the light risen upon your soul? Are you reflecting its radiance in your life, &c.? Are you doing what you can to communicate it to others! Every Christian is called upon not only to "arise," but to "shine" (Eph ). In the radiance of this Divine light the Church is to stand up and show herself, and then the greatest and most blessed results will follow. If your soul is in darkness you need not despair, for LIGHT I. ALL AROUND YOU. A. Tucker.

Words full of inspiration and high hope. Day has dawned upon the world; light and life have come, the day of salvation for all people. Let us consider this new day of salvation in three aspects.

I. How has light arisen upon the world in Jesus Christ?

II. How does light arise upon the individual soul that comes to Christ?

III. How may the blessed light which has arisen within us, and which has made us children of the light, so be manifested by us in our life that it may run its widening way upon the earth?

The claims of foreign missions.—The Homiletical Library, vol. ii. pp. 27-35.

I. The auspicious fact. II. The reasonable command.—J. Rawlinton.

Isa . The Light. I. Revealed to the Jews. II. Extended to the Gentiles. III. Supreme above all authority and power.

Isa . I. The gathering of the Gentiles to Zion. From every quarter—from far—from beyond the sea. With all their forces. II. Zion's emotions. She sees and overflows with joy.

Isa . The gathering of Zion's children. I. They come from all quarters. II. Come full-handed. III. Come with thanksgiving and praise. IV. Come to offer themselves in the service of the Lord. V. Come to find acceptance. VI. Come to share in the manifestation of the Divine glory.—J. Lyth, D.D.


Verse 6

THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL CHURCH

(Missionary Sermon.)

Isa . The multitude of camels shall cover thee, &c.

The primary reference is to the change in Jerusalem after the captivity. Instead of desolation there would be return of the life of a prosperous capital. The merchandise which had deserted it because there was no market would find its way back from all quarters. Arabia would again send its swift camels and dromedaries laden with spices and other products, &c. But glorious as this primary reference to material prosperity, it is surpassed by the secondary. Many of the terms can only be understood as contemplating the glory of the Gospel Church, which was to arise in consequence of the appearance of the Messiah and the accomplishment of His long-predicted work. View the text in this light, and observe some circumstances respecting the converts of the Gospel.

I. THEY SHALL BE DRAWN FROM AN EXTENDED AREA.

Keeping in view the wide geographical sweep of this chapter, it cannot be regarded as saying less than that the converts of the Gospel shall be derived from all the ends of the earth. Christianity is the true gospel of humanity.

1. It is needed by man universally.

2. It is adequate to man.

3. It is adapted to man.

4. It is intended for man.

II. THEY SHALL COME NUMEROUSL TO ITS ATTRACTION.

The prophet sees in vision these multitudes coming from various quarters. What is the centre to which they are attracted by an invisible but irresistible power? It is Christ (Joh ). Already, to a large extent, has this declaration been fulfilled. What multitudes have come to Him during many ages! In connection with the modern missionary enterprise, there is no quarter of the world from which representatives are not, in growing numbers, coming to the cross.

III. THEY SHALL BRING THEIR OF FERINGS TO His FEET.

They receive, indeed, a free salvation. But it is not intended to minister to their selfishness. It aims to destroy the old selfishness by the excitement of gratitude and love. Love wishes to requite the benefactor. Moreover, the experience of Christ's salvation, contact with His love, begets a corresponding benevolence, which looks forth to the needs of others. "They shall bring gold and incense." Each country and each man brings his own proper production and possession, and lays it at the feet of Him who emptied Himself of His riches for us. In the light of His redeeming love let each ask, "How much owest thou unto my Lord?"

IV. THEY SHALL CONTRIBUTE TO THE CELEBRATION OF HIS PRAISE.

Is not praise the expression of joyfulness? Is not joyfulness the experience of the Church when most fully consecrated to Christ? They shall show it—

1. By their songs. The first love of the Church expressed itself in songs of praise. So did the Reformation. So does every revival. Missionary converts speedily develop a love of sacred Song of Solomon 2. By their lives. The changed life of every convert that walks consistently with his new profession is a perpetual showing forth of God's praise. The worldling, the impure, the indifferent, the idolater changed.

3. By their testimony. In their turn testify for God and the Gospel. From personal experience speak confidently. Every separate convert a fresh seed of salvation.

By coming to Christ, consecration to Christ, living to His praise, will this be fulfilled.—J. Rawlinson.


Verse 7

THE HONOUR ASCRIBED TO THE CHURCH

Isa . I will glorify the house of My glory.

Revelation has been gradual. Isaiah's prophecies refer, first, to Judea and its inhabitants; but as he goes on they become much more general in their application: they reveal to us the glory of the Redeemer—the depth of His humiliation and sufferings, the greatness of His exaltation, the extension of His kingdom to the uttermost parts of the earth. Notice two things—

I. THE PLACE. The prophet refers immediately to the temple at Jerusalem. This was known by the name of the house of the glory of God. God intended that when the Jews settled, a place should be erected for His worship. The design of building a house to contain the emblems of the Divine glory was conceived by David, and announced by him to Nathan the prophet (2Sa ). The prophet, however, afterwards received command to the contrary (2Sa 7:5-6; 2Sa 7:12-13). In due time Solomon announced his design to Hiram (1Ki 5:3-5). It was in consequence of this determination that a building was erected in a style of unparalleled splendour. A proclamation was issued to assemble the tribes at its celebration. The holy things were brought, and placed in the holy place (1Ki 8:10). In this way, and by the prayers and praises which were continually offered in it, this house became the place of the glory of God. There the Shechinah dwelt for ages; there sacrifices were offered; there were given the tokens of direction, of protection, and of the glory of God. These things stood in a symbolical and representative character. So that the "house" here spoken of refers to the Gospel Church. We do not stretch the comparison too far, if we call the Church of God, "the house of His glory." Such an application is not below the design of Isaiah. Such, too, is the representation of Ezekiel (Eze 47:1-12). So in Zechariah (Zec 6:12). Malachi also (Mal 3:1). Reference may also be made to the writings of the apostles on this point (Eph 2:19-22; 1Ti 3:15; 1Pe 2:4-5). All who are called by Divine grace are to be regarded as the Church or House of God. And to these collectively the prophet refers, when he records the determination of Jehovah, "I will glorify the house of My glory."

But for what reasons, or with what propriety may the Christian Church be called the house of the glory of God? Chiefly on these accounts—

1. Because, it is planned and built by the purpose and power of the Most High. The Christian Church, no less than the ancient temple, was built according to the mind and will of God.

2. Because it contains the special manifestations of the Divine presence and glory. In the temple there were special emblems of God's presence. We trace the glory of God in all around us (Psa ). But to display His glory in the Church, He uses means which make all these comparatively obscure.

(1.) Christ Himself is the exact image of God (Joh ; 2Co 4:4; 2Co 4:6; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). The perfect representation of God is made in the person, and cross, and work of Jesus Christ.

This glory is seen also

(2) in the gifts and influences of the Holy Spirit. The ministration of the Spirit is called the ministration of glory. As in the temple, the Shechinah dwelt in the holiest of all, so the Spirit dwells in the hearts of true believers, as the Spirit of glory and of God (1Co ; 2Co 6:16).

(3.) By the development of the Divine glory in the preaching of the Word. Is it not a fact, that during the last eighteen hundred years, more has been done by the Gospel of Christ than had been done for four thousand years previous to its introduction. And He will be seen more and more till that time shall come when "the whole earth," &c.

II. THE PROMISE. God glorified the house of His glory in the first temple, by making it an object of beauty and glory to all His people, and by causing it to excite the admiration of surrounding nations; and still further, by sending Christ finally to minister in that temple. God will glorify the house of His glory—

1. By accepting the services and offerings which, in connection with it, are rendered. Formerly He accepted sacrifices in the temple and so glorified it (Eze ). No place whatever was honoured by the Divine presence, which was not so dedicated to Him. This is the connection in which the text stands (Isa 60:6-7). Sacrifices are abolished in the Gospel Church, because the Great Sacrifice has been offered (Joh 1:29; 1Co 5:7; Heb 10:14; Heb 9:12). Christ was the great victim slain at the dedication of the Gospel Temple on Calvary. In virtue of this sacrifice, all Christians are accepted, and their offerings (1Pe 2:5; Heb 13:15; Psa 51:17; Rom 12:1; Rom 15:16; Php 4:18).

2. By making it the place of special communion and fellowship with Himself. It was when the priest entered the holiest of all, that God spake with him, and testified His acceptance of the offerings of the people, and issued His various commands (Exo ). All are now priests before God, and to each one God condescends to talk (Heb 10:19-22; Eph 2:18).

3. By protecting it permanently against all the efforts of hostile powers. The temple at Jerusalem stood only as long as the people were obedient. But the promise in the text is permanent in reference to the Church at large (Isa ). The foundation of God standeth sure. And what are the grounds on which our belief in its security rests?

(1.) Upon the purpose of God.

(2.) Upon the promise of God. The purpose is an abstract of His will; and the promise is an intimation and illustration of that will (Mat ).

(3.) Upon the special superintendence of God (Zec ; Zec 2:8).

4. By extending it influence, and increasing its celebrity in the earth (vers, 4-6, 8, 9). Its glory has been increasing since its foundation was laid. And thus Jerusalem shall become "the praise of the whole earth."

5. By consummating it finally, in the splendour and happiness of heaven. This world is to suffer a last, decisive change (2Pe ). But still the Gospel Temple shall not be destroyed (Rev 21:22-27).

APPLICATION.—This is a subject concerning glory—the glory of the Gospel of God, the glory of the Church built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Christ Himself is the chief corner stone. Is this glory lighted up in your hearts? Have you passed from death unto life? If you have not now the light of grace, you will go from gloom to gloom. The Spirit's influence is a necessity of your nature, "Ye must be born again."—James Parsons: Pulpit, vol. iv. pp. 145-151.


Verse 8

THE SURPRISING INCREASE OF THE CHURCH

Isa . Who are these that fly as a cloud? &c.

God is here represented as addressing His Church (Isa ). In the text the Church breaks in upon the description in the language of wonder and surprise. In order to bring out the meaning of these words, let us notice,

I. THE MOVEMENT WHICH IS HERE STATED. It is a flight. The expression is intended to signify the coming of men from the distant regions of the earth to the Church of God, of which such glorious things are here said. As to the original condition of the persons who are here said to fly, they are described as having forsaken God—as having departed from God, as having wandered from God, and consequently as being in circumstances of distress and misery; as "aliens" from God—"enemies to God by wicked works." The movement spoken of signifies that state into which these men are transformed, and in which they come to the enjoyment of the designs of mercy. It is the renunciation of all that is opposed to God and to salvation; it is their coming back to "the Shepherd and Bishop of souls." Note further, that it is under the Gospel dispensation that this is to be exemplified. The Gospel contains a clear development of the Divine law; it reveals man's transgression of that law; it points out man's exposure to the wrath of God; and it contains in it all that is suited to bring men back to God: it proclaims the great atoning sacrifice, by faith in which the guilty are pardoned, the unholy purified, the endangered protected, and the lost redeemed.

It is implied also that Divine influence must be imparted to effect this. Nothing can be done without the Spirit. This statement should ever be seen in the foreground of our theology. Where the Spirit is not, there can be no accomplishment of the designs and purposes of eternal love. This change arises from the statements of Gospel truth as they are contained in the written Word. The Spirit uses His own words (Eph ). It is the preaching of the Cross of Christ—the uplifting of the Saviour, that contributes to the salvation of sinners; the preaching of the Cross is therefore called "the power of God." How important, then, that this Gospel should be spread both at home and abroad! how important to pray for the outpourings of Divine influence! But

II. WHAT IS INTENDED BY THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS MOVEMENT IS SAID TO BE MADE? Much interesting matter is furnished by these figures. We shall, perhaps, enter into the spirit of them in reference to the return of sinners to God, by considering them as implying—

1. Eagerness. The clouds are supposed to be driven by the wind to one point, and the doves hasten with speed to their home. This eagerness is a most important symptom of conversion. Take the following examples (Mat ; Luk 18:13; Luk 23:42; Act 2:37; Act 16:29-30). And is there not reason for this eagerness? Consider: the knowledge of guilt; the fear of danger; the prospect of security and the hope of privilege impels us to flee.

2. Number. The cloud is an emblem of number. The number of witnesses to the power of faith are described by the Apostle as "a great cloud of witnesses." The other figure of doves refers also to a great number. This chapter refers to the great accessions which the Church in after ages should receive (Isa ). The mercy of God was to go forward to the boundaries of the habitable globe (Isa 49:5-6; Isa 49:22-23). Christ re-stated this grand fact (Mat 8:11; Mat 24:14; Mar 16:15). Look at the history of the progress of the Gospel. In early times it extended itself rapidly. In one day three thousand converts were made; and the word of God "grew mightily, and prevailed" (2Co 10:4-5). The temples of heathen superstition were deserted, the Gospel in all its truth and purity was established: and how many myriads have since been gathere! Predicted universal triumph.

3. Unity. The clouds are supposed to fly in one body, and to be driven to one part of the horizon; the doves fly together to attain one home. So it will be with all who have been conducted by the Spirit into the way of life everlasting. There may be a number of differences among the people of God; but they seek the same salvation; they are influenced by the same principles; they depend on the same atonement; they are clothed in the same righteousness; they partake of the same Spirit; they obey the same commandments; they hope in the same promises; they are heirs of the same inheritance. Observe how the diversity in unity is stated by Paul (1Co ). Note the importance attached to unity (Eph 4:3-6; Col 3:11).

III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE INQUIR WHICH THE CONTEMPLATION OF THIS MOVEMENT EXCITES? The words are expressive of the emotions—

1. Of surprise. The passage is very analogous to Isa . It could not but be surprising to witness the change from feebleness to strength, from solitariness to multitude, from lowliness to empire. Contemplating modern times, are we not ready to exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" Contemplate the future in the same spirit.

2. Of joy. Surprise is mingled with joy There is joy over the conversion of every sinner. And why? Because of the honour given by this means to the Church. Because of the immense accession to the peace and happiness of mankind. Because of the complete restoration of the honours of Jehovah Here is the prospect of the establishment of His kingdom "who is the Lord God Omnipotent."—James Parsons: Pulpit, vol. viii. pp. 433-441.

Isa . I. God's sons must be gathered. II. The means are at hand. Ships; silver and gold—all useful in God's cause. III. The centre of power and attraction. The Holy One of Israel (see p. 550). IV. The agency by which this power is exerted. The Church—which He has glorified and will.

Isa . I. God has often just cause to be angry with His people. II. Smites them in His wrath. III. Has mercy on them. IV. Finally subdues their enemies and makes them minister to them.

Isa . The future of the Church. I. Open gates. Implying peace, constant accessions. II. Abundant resources. The forces of the Gentiles—their wealth, intellect, knowledge, every earthly good consecrated. III. Honour and dominion. The noblest will minister to her. The State will not rule the Church, but the Church sanctify and guide the State by the influence of its teaching.—J. Lyth, D.D.


Verse 12

NECESSITY OF RELIGION TO THE WELL-BEING OF A NATION

Isa . The nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish, &c.

I. True religion is essential to the welfare of a nation. But what is human welfare? What is that state to which we can, with full satisfaction, attach the idea of well-being? In a word—what is happiness, that object which all desire, and seek and strive to obtain, &c.? Legislation, &c., will not affect the solid welfare of a nation. Facts confirm what reason had anticipated, that true religion is the only foundation of a nation's welfare. The reasons of the fact arise from the very nature of the case in the operation of moral causes. What the religion of the Gospel teaches and does, &c.

II. By what means may we most effectively endeavour to realise the welfare of our country, and that as the fruit of its religion? All Christians are called to promote the conversion of sinners, the more expansive holiness of believers, and the universal glory of their Lord: in a word, to make the nation Christian, by making the persons who compose the nation such. Respecting the selection and applica-of the particular methods for this purpose, the new Testament allows very great latitude provided that grand principles be preserved—

(1) Spirituality;

(2) simplicity;

(3) liberty.—J. P. Smith, D.D., LL.D.: Pulpit Memorials, pp. 59-75.


Verse 13

THE PLACE OF GOD'S FEET GLORIOUS

Isa . I will make the place of My feet glorious.

These promises, while serving the purpose of sustaining the heart of God's faithful people throughout their dismal captivity, took a far grander range than their restoration and revival, &c.

I. THE SCENE OF THIS SPECIAL DIVINE GLORY. "The place of My feet." This is the language of figure, but plain and intelligible. God has no bodily parts, yet the sacred writers speak of His eye, &c., as indicating His personal presence. Such language deceives no one, and it gives a lively representation of the actual spiritual fact. "The place of God's feet," or His "footstool," was in ancient times the temple (1Ch ). This was His rest, where He had chosen to put His name, where in a special sense Jehovah dwelt between the Cherubim over the mercy-seat. The allusion is to a royal throne. God's throne is in heaven, but His footstool in the earthly temple whither His subjects repair. It was for Israel the place of reception, of communion, and of worship. And all this was in turn a figure of the better things reserved for us. No place of worship on earth may claim to be, in preference to others, the footstool of Jehovah. The true Church, composed of all believers of whatever name or nation, is God's temple, "the place of His feet." It is no particular altar or edifice; it is the living stones. In a real sense the wide earth is His footstool, marked by the footprints of His glory; but it is in the new creation that he has given the most perfect manifestation of His glory.

II. THE GLORY OF THE SCENE. It was the glory of Eden that God talked there with man, and it is the glory of the Church that it has the clearest manifestations of His presence and grace.

1. The worship there rendered and accepted.

2. The glory that is there created (Isa ). Many can see no glory in the Church. They admire the beauty of the palace, the splendour of a mighty monarchy, but conclude that the Church has no glory. This is not to be wondered at: they see only what they have the power of seeing—they have no spiritual discernment. The true purpose of the Church is to be a living witness, an embodied protest against money-worship, &c. Her grandest glory consists in the image of Christ: she is the true home of holiness.

3. The multitudes attracted to her. The Gospel is for the world, and the Church is the light-bearer. In proportion as she is healthy will she bestir herself in this great service of humanity, and commend the Gospel by her own high-toned character (Isa ). The nations come to her in procession (Isa 60:8-9). This is a spiritual movement, the approach of souls, the submission of hearts to Christ, and much of it is already fact.

4. The blessedness there conferred—the blessedness of inviolable security (Isa ; Isa 60:18). A nation not in alliance with God has a canker eating at the heart of its power. What vitality the Church has shown! How vainly the powers of earth have conspired to trample her down! What is the ground of this security? Not her own strength but God's salvation. Hers is the glory of purity. Let the world see that the Church is what she claims to be—a society unselfish and benevolent. As she is holy she will be joyful. She has forsaken the pleasures of sin, and unless she has the joy of salvation, she has no comfort of any kind. Let us partake of the true joy, and we will walk in the light of God's face; and that joy will prove a grand attraction to the nations of the world, and reveal to them a blessedness which the world cannot bestow.—John Riddell Moffat: Discourses, pp. 222-241.

Isa . I. The sorrows of Zion. Afflicted. Despised. II. Their relief. By the subjection of her foes. By the acknowledgment of her claims. By the presence and favour of God.

Isa . The happy condition of Zion. I. Temporal blessings. Once forsaken and despised, now held in universal honour. All the advantages of commerce, civilisation, and wealth. Just government—peace and protection. II. Spiritual blessings. Knowledge of God and Christ. Salvation. Divine light and comfort. Universal righteousness. Permanent increase.

Isa . I. The desolations of Zion. II. Her restoration. III. Prosperity. IV. Acknowledgment of God.

Isa . Iron. I. All things must be laid under contribution for the accomplishment of the Divine purpose in His Church. All the achievements of the human mind. All the conveniences of wealth and civilisation. All the influence of human power. II. In the subjection and sanctification of human resources God develops His own character in relation to His Church. As Saviour, Redeemer, the Might One of Jacob.

Isa . The exaltation of the Church secures the best interests of a nation. I. Social peace and order. II. Honesty and integrity in the transactions of business and commerce. III. Protection from violence within and foes without. IV. Happiness in the blessings of salvation, and the spirit of praise.—J. Lyth, D.D.


Verse 20

EARTHLY DARKNESS AND HEAVENLY LIGHT

Isa . Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon, &c.

No one who is capable of appreciating the higher forms of poetry can refuse to pay a tribute of admiration to this magnificent chapter. It is a rapturous ode congratulating Zion on her restoration to heavenly favour, &c. Much of the chapter can only be interpreted spiritually. The text can never be true of this world. The parallelism of this verse.

I. ON EARTH OUR MOON WITHDRAWS ITSELF.

1. There is great propriety in the figure which makes the light of the moon an emblem of earthly joy. The sun's light is in a sense his own, not so the moon. As the light of the sun is essential, so are the joys which come direct from God; as the light of the moon is borrowed and reflected, so is the joy that springs from earthly things. The things of earth have no inherent power of giving happiness.

2. There is equal propriety in saying of the "days of our mourning" that the moon withdraws itself. Our troubles come in two ways—

(1.) By the removal of our pleasant things.

(2.) Our pleasant things are left, but the joy of them is gone.

3. Our days of mourning, like the moon's withdrawing itself, are often sources of the greatest profit. Nothing helps reflection like trouble and sorrow. The loss of earthly joy makes heavenly hopes more bright.

II. ON EARTH OUR SUN GOES DOWN.

1. We may compare the light of the sun to the joy which the soul receives from communion with God. The light of the sun is light from the highest source of light; and the joy of Divine communion is joy from the highest source of joy.

2. On earth the sun of the soul may go down—our heavenly prospect become clouded.

III. FOR THE SINCERE CHRISTIAN, THE OBSCURATIONS THAT OCCASIONALLY TAKE PLACE ON EARTH ARE ONLY TEMPORARY.

1. The causes that lead to the obscuring of our spiritual joys will be removed—clouds, shadow, night, &c. What must it be to be there?

2. And with this highest and purely spiritual glory shall be associated in the sublimest perfection all elements of the happiness that is secondary and subordinate. Ended shall be the hours of earthly anxiety, &c. Upon all the glory there shall be a defence, the defence of immortality. To which of the two worlds are you tending, &c.?—Frederick Greeves, D.D.

Isa . It is the purpose of God to grant larger manifestations of His grace and more copious outpourings of His Spirit in order to fulfil these delightful prophecies, and bring on even on earth golden days, &c. But the text manifestly points to heaven, as there only can it be completely and for ever verified (Rev 21:23). In this description of heaven we observe two things—

I. THE TOTAL ABSENCE OF ALL THE EVILS WE DEPLORE ON EARTH. Our text tells us what this life is, and what the life to come shall be, and plainly contrasts one state with the other. Now, joy and sorrow are blended; light and darkness are intermixed, &c. We are scarcely aware how necessary these vicissitudes and variations are. We forget that night is as necessary as the day. Morning never breaks so beautifully as after a tempestuous night, &c. These changes are the marks and indications of an imperfect dispensation of things, and they often present serious obstructions to our happiness and repose. We have a sun, but that sun goes down; we have a moon, but that moon withdraws itself; we have light, but that light is clouded and incomplete; we have days upon days, but they are often days of mourning, &c. Heaven, therefore, is beautifully described as exhibiting the total absence of all the evils we deplore, &c. He infirmity of body, &c. They are for ever gone, and if remembered at all, shall be remembered only as a ground of triumph that they are no more, &c.

II. THE PERPETUAL ENJOYMENT OF ALL THE GOOD WE DESIRE. God Himself shall constitute the immediate felicity of His children.

1. Knowledge without obscurity.

2. Holiness without sin.

3. Communion without weariness.

4. Happiness without alloy.

III. THE INFLUENCE THIS PROSPECT SHOULD EXERT.

1. Secure a title to it, and a meetness for it.

2. Guard against the temptations and sins that often embitter the changes of this life.

3. Aim to take as many with you as you Song of Solomon 4. Remember you may be much nearer to it than you expect. What is your hope, &c.?—Samuel Thodey.

Isa . Never was a picture of national happiness described in more glowing colours than in this verse. It can only be completed in heaven. I. A MELANCHOLY SKETCH OF THE LIFE THAT NOW IS. And is it not a faithful sketch? Let us inquire into—

1. Some of the sources of human calamity. Some suffer from the afflictions—

(1.) Of the mind.

(2.) Body.

(3.) Worldly disappointments.

(4.) Family afflictions.

(5.) Bereavement. Thus days of mourning are allotted to all. The cup goes round.

2. Some of the reasons why these are permitted under the government of a wise, righteous, gracious God. To imbitter sin, to discipline and mature the character, to wean from the world, and conform to Christ.

3. Some of the consolations which the Gospel furnishes under them. Our sorrows are attended by many consolations. We are supported by many promises, &c. II. A DELIGHTFUL ANTICIPATION OP THE LIFE TO COME. In a future life our pains and sorrows cease. When our sorrow ceases positive happiness begins.

1. The presence of God. In this life God blesses us mediately—by channels of mercy, &c.; but in heaven immediately—He Himself will be the source of our bliss.

2. The absence of all sources of disquiet. Sin, sorrow, &c.

3. The communication of happiness suited to our nature.

4. Perpetuity gives the final charm.—S. Thodey.

Isa . I. The promise. Includes the ultimate prevalence of righteousness. The consequent increase of human enjoyment. II. The security of it. God will accomplish it, for the revelation of His own glory.

Isa . The growth of God's kingdom. I. The small proportion which the Church hears to the world. II. The promised enlargement. In numbers and influence. III. The certain and speedy accomplishment of this promise. God will bring it to pass. Will hasten it—in His time.—J. Lyth, D.D.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 60:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-60.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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Saturday, May 25th, 2019
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