Summary: Jesus came to bring the fulfilment of this prophecy of Isaiah 60 & 61. He’s the one who brings light into the world. He’s the one who brings liberty and forgiveness and true freedom.
We come today to the end of our series on Isaiah and to the climax of the book. Here we find God’s salvation brought to its culmination. God has come to dwell with his people; and the whole world is drawn to him to receive the salvation he offers.
It’s as though Isaiah sees a vision that slowly unfolds, first of God’s saving work and its implication for the world, then of the task that’s given to God’s people as a result of this salvation.
The Lord, The Light of Zion
The prophecy is addressed initially to Zion, the city of God. It’s told to arise and shine - not with its own light but with the reflected light of the glory of the Lord. Do you remember that passage in Ch9 that we often read at Christmas, where we’re told that the nations who lived in darkness have seen a great light? Well that light has now appeared. Darkness has been covering the earth, the peoples of the earth have been immersed in darkness, but God is coming to bring them light.
It’s interesting that darkness has been used for centuries to describe those who live in ignorance of God or those times when the knowledge of God has disappeared and evil has reigned. So we talk of the dark ages, when Christianity had been forgotten or had descended to mere superstition and human affairs were controlled by the powerful; a time when might equalled right. We even used to talk about darkest Africa, meaning those places where the gospel hadn’t yet reached.
In Romans 1 Paul says this: “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom 1:20-22 NRSV)
I think you’d have to say that there are many people in the world today whose minds are darkened; who are ignorant of God and in fact who don’t want to know about God.
There was some research that came out last week that showed that while many people are interested in spirituality few of them care about Christianity. Even those who say they believe in God aren’t necessarily involved in a Church.
But in this new world, foreseen by Isaiah, the light of the glory of God spreads out from the city of God to bring light to all people.
The Lord of the Nations
And as the light spreads, people are attracted to it like moths to a lamp.
He says the nations and their kings will come, bringing the wealth of the nations in tribute. See vs5&6: “the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense.” It’s a picture of a conquering king to whom his subjects bring tribute. Yet it doesn’t talk about conquest does it? Can you see that? They don’t come because they’ve been conquered. They come because they want to join this kingdom of light. They want to be part of God’s people.
And notice how they come. I don’t mean by sea or by camel. I mean the attitude that they show as they come. It’s there at the end of v6: they come singing God’s praises.
This is really important to understand. People don’t come to worship God because they’re scared of him, though he is certainly to be feared. No, they come because he’s so great they want to join in his praise. They come because he’s lifted the darkness in which they’ve dwelt all their life and now they can see again.
And they come because he welcomes them. He welcomes and accepts people of every nation. Why wouldn’t people come to him? In fact they hurry to him: they “fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows.” It’s like they’re coming home at last. They may not have realised it but they’ve been strangers in their own land. But now God calls them back to where they belong, to his kingdom. It’s a great picture isn’t it?
And as the vision unfolds we see these foreigners setting to work on the walls of the city to strengthen it. Their kings gladly become servants of God’s people because they can see how God has blessed them.
The Lord of All the Earth
Then we realise that all this rebuilding of the walls is only for show. God reigns in this city so it’s completely secure without walls or gates. “11Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut, so that nations shall bring you their wealth, with their kings led in procession.”