Summary: The prophet Isaiah in the concluding part of his prophecy looks forward to that time when God’s glory will be fully revealed
Last week we looked at the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 60,
Arise shine, for your light has come. We thought of the light having been switched on, and when the light is on, there can be no darkness. God’s lory in Jesus has pushed the darkness back.
Then, All assemble and come to you. The glory of God in Jesus means that Gentiles are drawn. That’s us: we are Gentiles, not Jew- if we have no human parentage.
Tonight we look to the second part of Isaiah 60. As I was preaching on Isaiah 62 to the 10 o’clock congregation some weeks ago, I looked at how these last chapters of Isaiah in general look to the final establishment of God’s Kingdom at the end of this age. That is what we pray for everytime we say that prayer which Jesus taught us. ’Your Kingdom come’. That is what we look forward to at every Holy Communion service, for at every such service we do ’until the Lord come’- or as we declare in the Eucharistic Prayer- ’Christ will come again’
In passing, the Kingdom will come in its finality not by our effort, nothing we can do can achieve that, and do no more than hasten its day. The Kingdom will come in that way when God acts decisively and finally.
As we move on from verse 8 of Isaiah 60, the tense changes. Those opening verses were written in the past tense; verse 9 is in the present, and from verse 10 on the tense is future. Isaiah now looks to that day when God’s Kingdom is finally establidhed, and as Fred mentioned last week, this portion and especially from verse 18 onward has a strong resonance with the final chapters of the book of Revelation, those chapters 21 and 22 where God begins by saying (verse 5): I am making everything new; that which had already been anounced in the first verse: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old earth had passed away. and then in verse 3: Now is the dwelling of God with man. This is the vision Isaiah gives us in this evening’s reading.
Let’s note one or two points from the Isaiah text.
1. In verse 17 we read No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders. In God’s Kingdom where will be no room for such things. It’s a stark reminder to those who believe that everyone will ’be there’. Who will and who won’t is of course for God to decide and choose, and no doubt there’ll be a few surprises. Ruin and destruction will be out, and one of the biblical names of Satan is ’the Destroyer’. Peter in his epistle warns us to be wary of Satan who is like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour- and that devouring has much of the sense of destruction in it. The inhabitants of God’s Kingdom will be those who ’build up’- in the best sense of that word.
2. Verse 17 also says You will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.
These are the two big markers on which God’s people of his Kingdom will come in. Salvation is the name of the wall. Salvation surrounds, it is the sina qua non for those who will be in God’s Kingdom. It emphasises that, not only our efforts will not usher in God’s Kingdom, but reminds us that our efforts can never make us worhty of that Kingdom.
And Praise. The gates will be called Praise- the entry-point. Let us remember that in the Bible we read that ’the Lord inhabits the praises of his people’. Praise should be a marker of God’s people, and praise lifts our hearts to God; without praise our hearts turn away from him!
3. The succeeding verses all point up the fact that God will dwell with be the light of his people. Jesus of course said I am the light of the world. How much more the light of the heavenly Kingdom. If the early verses of Isaiah 60 said the light had come- well, yes, darkness has been pushed back, for where light shines there can be no darkness- by definition. Light and dark can never mix. But, verse 20: The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
It’s surprising, really, how much the Bible says about what we call ’heaven’, the new heaven where God’s Kingdom will be in all its fulness. It’s not some vague spirit realm of angels strumming on their harps. It’s a place full of all sorts of wunderful thinds: light, peace, praise, so much more and above all God’s presence with us.
But to close, let’s turn out thoughts to those points from Revelation: