June 5, 2021
"Arise, shine (Jerusalem), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For, look, darkness covers the earth, and total darkness the peoples..."
“Arise, shine (Jerusalem), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For, look, darkness covers the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the Lord will shine over you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance. Raise your eyes and look around: they all gather and come to you; your sons will come from far away, and your daughters will be carried on the hip. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will tremble and rejoice, because the riches of the sea will become yours, and the wealth of the nations will come over you. Caravans of camels will cover your land – young camels of Midian and Ephah – all of them will come from Sheba. They will carry gold and frankincense and proclaim the praises of the Lord.” Isaiah 60:1-6
We are, of course, familiar with the fact that Gentiles (non-Jews) comprise the majority in the Church today. But in Isaiah’s day, this was not so. It was unthinkable for many of Isaiah’s generation that Gentiles could be counted among God’s people. The historical precedence of Gentile believers is clearly articulated in the Torah yet almost completely overlooked by the Jewish community, even today. It is true that Ruth, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba were all accounted for as righteous. (See also: Matthew 1) But they were an exception, not a rule. I say this to help you feel the gravity of Isaiah’s insistence on the coming influx of Gentiles, counted among God’s people, by faith in Messiah.
The closing chapters of Isaiah depict this Gentile influx but go beyond it. The language is exalted. It depicts things that transcend even our own era. For us, the “Gentile believer phenomena” is commonplace. Much of the shock of Isaiah’s message is lost on us because we are literally living in an era of fulfillment (in part) of Isaiah’s prophecy. In our day, the uncommon thing is to find JEWS who believe Jesus is Messiah, although Jewish believers are growing in number. Isaiah is pointing beyond even our understanding of his generation’s “things to come.”
We should keep in mind the fact that Revelation 21, with its picture of the New Jerusalem, draws heavily on Isaiah 60. So much so that the apostle John is considered the “Isaiah” of the New Testament. The nations will walk by the light of the holy city, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. (Revelation 21:24) This may also be an allusion to the star that appeared over Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus. (Matthew 2:1-12) Further references to the wealth and riches, including “gold and incense,” together with “camels” from far-away places, maybe an even clearer reference to wise men who came “from the east” to present their gifts to Jesus. (See also: Psalm 72:10-11)
Clearly, today’s passage is an announcement of God’s intention to gather a worldwide harvest through the gospel. The “sons and daughters” are of every nationality. The nations, islands, and foreigners comprise a large part of those who “honor the Lord.” They are pictured as doves coming home to their lofts. Have you come home yet? There is still time to place your faith in Him, who draws all men unto Himself. So, have you come home to roost, or have you flown the coop, still looking for a safe place to land? (Matthew 11:28)