Jehovah shines on Jerusalem. Jerusalem shines on the earth.
being the third section of this division of our book, the significance
of that number is strikingly imprinted upon it; for "God is fully
manifested" in His government of the earth by the glory that falls upon
Zion, and which makes her in her reflection of it the glory of the
earth. There is no clearly marked division throughout the chapter, but
the one number "three" is evidently marked on the whole of it. The very
words have a lilt that tell of the joy that the manifestation of God
ever brings to His people. It is an everlasting gospel.
1: Arise! Shine! For thy light is come,
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
2: For gross is the darkness that covers the earth,
And dense is the gloom that enshroudeth the nations,
But upon thee Jehovah doth rise,
His glory doth shine forth upon thee;1
3: And the Gentiles are drawn to thy light,
And kings to thy clear-shining dawning.
4: Lift up thine eyes round about thee—
See how they all crowd together!
To thee they are coming!
Thy sons from afar come unto thee,
And thy daughters are borne on the hip.2
5: Then shalt thou see, and 'twill cheer thee,3
Thy throbbing heart shall enlarge;
For the sea's riches to thee shall be turned,
The wealth of the Gentiles come to thee!
6: Great are the herds of the camels that cover thee,
Camels from Midian, camels from Ephah,
They come all together, from Sheba they come;
Gold and sweet incense they're bringing,
And joyfully publish the praises of Jah.
7: All Kedar's flocks shall be gathered to thee,
The rams of Nebaioth shall serve thee,
They shall come to My altar accepted;
And glory shall fill the house of My glory.4
previous chapter has given us those preliminary dealings with Israel
that necessarily precede blessing; for never till the mouth is stopped
can God pour out His unchecked love on man. But the last section of
chapter fifty-nine shows how effectively that has been done, and now
Isaiah the prophet is hidden altogether, but Isaiah the sign (chapter
8), Isaiah, the salvation of Jehovah, shines forth in exceeding
brilliancy. For it is still night, the earth's dwellers have not been
won to the gospel of grace; the "Sun" has not yet risen, although there
must have been the harbinger of that sunrise in the bright Morning
Star, and the heavenly redeemed have gone; but on that very account the
shades hang thicker than ever over the earth. Like the little daughter
of Jairus, Israel (whom she typifies) sleeps still. But the same Voice
that awakened that sleeping damsel is heard, and in the first word of
this chapter it utters precisely the same word, "Cumi," "Arise," and
again, with the word, as in that chamber of grief, power for obedience
comes with the command, and Israel, long in the sleep of death, awakes
What gracious intertwinings there are between the Old and
New Testaments in these ways of God's dealings with men! In the Old, we
have the earth alone in view, focussed and represented by one people;
and that people focussed and represented by one city, Jerusalem, which
shall express His ways of government. In the New, nations disappear,
and the heavenly Church takes the place of Jerusalem. Thus the earth
becomes a pattern of the invisible; and in Israel's awakening we may
see that of many a poor sinner of the Gentiles, of many an unwatchful
saint, as Eph. 5:14 shows.
Let us throw our vision forward, it
will not need to be far, and look on the scene as depicted in these
first verses. The gospel has been preached for 2,000 years with more or
less clearness and fidelity; but that light of truth has been turned
into a dense darkness that enshrouds the whole race of man, darkness
the more dense because of the light rejected. Yet see that harbinger,
the Star, has not given a false testimony, a dawn is breaking over
Jerusalem—it is Jehovah-Jesus who is rising upon her, with that healing
in His wings of which another prophet speaks (Mal. 4:2).
light is from no withering, blasting fire; it is a gracious beam that
attracts, for the chastened nations with their kings are drawn thereto
as steel by a magnet. It is a strange picture! All the governments of
earth wait upon Zion, and govern their conduct by her decrees! Not only
are the Gentiles attracted, Jerusalem's own sons, who are still
scattered, come from far, and her feebler daughters are pictured as
children carried by their mothers on the hip.
When Zion, the
personified, representative city of the nation, sees all this, a smile
replaces the downcast look; her heart, filled with emotion, throbs, and
her affections, no longer self-centered, give that delightful evidence
of the work of God in all dispensations, for they are enlarged with
unselfish joy to sing: "Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; yea, let
all the peoples praise Thee!" (Ps. 67:3).
In that millennial day
earth's metropolis will lack no temple, nor that temple lack an altar,
nor that altar lack offerings. Ezekiel gives details of the ritual
(chaps. 40-44), whilst Isaiah tells us that Kedar and Nebaioth shall
send their flocks to provide these offerings; and they shall be
But will, then, animal sacrifices be renewed? Delitzsch says "No," and writes:
sacrifice of animals has been abolished once for all by the
self-sacrifice of the Servant of Jehovah, and by the spiritual
revolution that Christianity has produced. . . . The meaning is that
Jehovah will graciously accept the sacrifices which the church offers
from the gifts of the Nabateans, etc.
Fair as this may look
on the surface, it leads us into dense fogs, and worse. Delitzsch seems
to allow that Jerusalem here refers to the literal city on earth,
representing restored Israel; that the ships that bring them back to
that literal land must also be literal, that wherever Tarshish and the
isles may be found, they certainly are not in heaven, but on earth;
that the flocks of Kedar could be nothing else than literal—all this is
necessarily admitted. But as soon as it comes to making a worthy use of
those flocks, then instantly Jerusalem on earth becomes the Church of
the heavenly calling! Others carry this to the extreme till Israel is
actually "exterminated" as a nation forever; and there is substituted
for that people, ever beloved for the fathers' sake (Rom. 11:28), the
Church, and these Jewish prophets are supposed to speak of a mystery
which we are divinely told was completely hidden from them! (Rom.
16:25; Eph. 3:4; Col. 1:26).
The New Testament tells us all that we
can know of the Church; and where is there the faintest hint of that
Church offering sacrifices from the gifts of Kedar or Nebaioth? Her
ministers, far from this, took "nothing from the Gentiles" (3 John 7).
the other hand, no Christian will admit for a moment that any animal
sacrifice can ever rival, and still less replace, that one Offering,
the efficacy of which has abolished them in that sense of rivalry
forever. That is surely true. But that must not be allowed to evaporate
all meaning from what is here so clearly stated, that in a coming day
Israel's sacrifices shall be accepted. Christians have the Lord's
Supper, and in it they show the Lord's death with perfect acceptance.
But we do not permit any sacrificial efficacy to be attached to that
memorial; that error we leave to Jezebel-Rome (and alas, she wills not
to repent). Nor will the enlightened Israelite (and they will all be
thus enlightened) in the future permit any atoning efficacy to be
attached to those sacrifices; they will also be memorials, and only
memorials, of that same all-sufficient offering of Christ crucified. In
this light there is no lack of harmony between the literal
understanding of this prophecy and the basic word in Heb. 10. The
entire absence of the veil in that future Temple will be evidence
enough of the sacrifices being memorials and not propitiations. One can
but have the fullest sympathy with the zeal for that one Sacrifice
never to be repeated, but we also need zeal for the integrity of the
Word, which is too clear to permit any other interpretation.
beauteous the light that last line throws on our own abode, the
Father's House. The word rendered "glory" is not the common one, but
has at its base the idea of beauty, as in verse 13, and that, in its
turn, of what meets and delights that aesthetic faculty of enjoyment
that distinguishes man from all the creation below him. No blinding
beam will that "glory" be, but of fair and holy attractions, so suited
to the new nature that they shall thrill with such praiseful delight as
can only find relief in worship. If He will thus beautify His House on
earth, we can well leave it to His Love to make His House in heaven not
8: Who are these that fly as a cloud,
As doves wing their way to the dovecotes?
9: The isles are waiting for Me,
And the ships of Tarshish come first,5
To bring thy children from far,
And with them their silver and gold,
To the name of Jehovah thy God,
To the Holy One of Israel:
For He hath greatly adorned thee.
10: The sons of the stranger shall build up thy walls,
Their kings shall be at thy service.
For in My wrath I did smite thee with strokes,
But in My favor have had mercy on thee.
11: Thy gates shall ever stand ope,
Nor by night, nor by day shall be closed,
To bring into thee the wealth of the nations,
And their kings as though led in triumph.6
12: For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee,
Shall itself be brought to destruction:
The nations that will not freely serve thee
Shall themselves be utterly dried up.7
13: Lebanon's glory shall come unto thee,
Cypress and pine and box-tree together,
The place of My sanctu'ry thus to adorn,
My footstool thus to make splendid.
14: The sons of oppressors that once oppressed thee,
Shall approach with lowly obeisance,
And all who contemned thee shall themselves be ashamed,
To the soles of thy feet shall be humbled,
Jehovah's own city, thou shalt be called,
Zion, the city of Him,
The Holy One of Israel.
is pictured as a woman looking seaward; a cloud appears on the horizon,
which, as it draws near, resolves itself into a fleet of ships whose
white sails are like a flock of homing pigeons flying to their cotes.
Then she looks upward as inquiring, and Jehovah explains the marvel.
The nations of the earth, He says, are all now waiting submissively
upon Him and placing their ships at His disposal; and prominent amongst
them are those sea-bordering nations (Tarshish) whose navies and
merchant-ships have covered the seas.
No longer do thy people come
back in unbelief as in those years of the twentieth century; but as
those whose very coming will enrich thee, for they bring with them
their gold and silver. Thy walls must be built; but thine own hands
shall not labor; the sons of those very strangers who a short time ago
were pulverizing those walls with their artillery, shall build them up.
Even kings become thy servants; for when My face was turned away from
thee because of thy crooked ways, then the nations carried out My
purposes in chastening thee; but now, when I smile upon thee, even thy
former enemies must give cheerful submission to thee and to thy King.
should any refuse, they must perish, for it shall not then be as in
that long day of unmixed grace; but perfect divine government shall
then be in full exercise, with righteousness reigning all open
rebellion will promptly be put down.
Every beauteous tree shall
adorn that holy place where thy God touches, as it were, the earth, and
shall make that "place of His Feet" glorious, so that from the beauty
of the footstool men may gather what the beauty of the palace must be!
former oppressors have been swept away, but their children shall come,
and would have thee place thy feet on their prostrate bodies, so low
would they make their obeisance, and they will salute thee with the
cry: "O City of Jehovah! O Zion of the Holy One of Israel!"
very word is repeated almost literally in that letter that our Lord
sends to those who are living in "brotherly love" (for we may well
insist that this promise is not addressed to any who are not living in
Philadelphia, or brotherly love, in truth): "Behold, I will make them
of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but do
lie; behold, I will make them come and worship before thy feet, and to
know that I have loved thee" (Rev. 3:9).
Who can deny the
correspondence in the words used? But those words cannot refer to
literal Jews surely. Israel was not, and is not, and will not be in
Philadelphia, but in Palestine. And while there are striking
correspondences, there are striking differences too, quite enough to
save us from that double mistake, first, of taking the earthly promises
away from the Jew, and then of putting the Christian in his place, as
if he were a literal Jew. We see how sternly those are rebuked who, by
act (not lip) taking their place under the law never given to them, say
they are Jews. That is precisely what is being done all about us.
Nothing in the Lord's letter is said about previous wrath or smiting;
but enemies there are, nor are these the literal Philistine or
Ammonite, Assyrian or Babylonian, but what answer to these in the
spirit-world, various forms of superstition and rationalism, of
legality and worldliness, the proud exponents of religious formality
O sweetest promise! We ask not that others should thus
abase themselves to our feet that do but too often wander, but no music
could be so entrancing to us, as to hear one whisper from Him that
should tell us of the "breadth and length and depth and height" of His
own patient, tender love to such poor creatures as we. But must we not
deduce, that if we are not despised now, if we are sharing in the
honors of the world now, if we are not sharing in His reproach and
suffering with Him now, how can we hope to have any part in this
promise? O Lord Jesus, so draw the eyes of our heart to Thee that in
these days of lukewarmness we may be whole-hearted and with no divided
15: Whereas thou wast left alone, utterly hated,
And no one walked through thy desolate streets,
I will make of thee a splendor eternal,
Source of delight from age unto age!
16: Thou shalt suck too of the milk of the Gentiles;
From the breasts of their kings shalt thou nourishment draw,
Thus shalt thou learn I'm Jehovah thy Saviour,
Thy Kinsman-Redeemer, of Jacob the Strength.
17: Instead of the copper, I'll bring to thee gold;
Instead of the iron, I'll bring to thee silver;
Instead of the wood, I'll bring to thee copper;
Instead of the stone, I'll bring to thee iron.
I'll make peace itself fill the place of thy judges,
And righteousness be all the police-force required.8
18: Injustice shall no more be heard in thy land,
Nor waste nor destruction within all thy borders,
But thou shalt call Salvation thy ramparts,
Thy gates in their joyousness shall be called Praise.9
19: The sun shall light on thee by day nevermore;
Neither for brightness the moon shine upon thee;
But Jehovah shall be to thee light everlasting,
And thy God shall Himself be thy glory!
20: Thy sun—it shall nevermore set;
Thy moon—it shall nevermore wane;
But Jehovah shall be to thee light everlasting,
The days of thy sorrow forever be past!
21: As for thy people, they all shall be righteous,
And the land shall be theirs evermore:
A sprout of My planting,
A work of My hands,
That shall be for My glory!
22: The smallest one of them shall grow to a thousand,
The least shall become a strong nation.
I, even I, Jehovah, will speed it,
Will bring it to pass in due time.
prophet foresees a day in which Jerusalem shall be as glorious as she
has been contemptible, as attractive as she has been repulsive. What a
striking picture she is, in both respects, of us individually. She has
long been in a figure, dead and buried, for as Abraham so pathetically
said, the dead must ever be buried out of our sight; we cannot look on
the progressive repulsiveness of dissolution in those forms that we
have loved so tenderly. But this prophecy of Jerusalem's joyous
recovery is a prophecy of the recovery of all who are "in Christ," and
the glories that are here portrayed of that representative city, shall
have their more exceeding beauteous counterparts in the bodies of glory
like unto our Lord's and be as attractive as the dead were repulsive!
the nations of the regenerate earth shall bring their riches to that
city, and the very kings shall act as its foster-parents. When we read
this chapter of Isaiah we have some difficulty in remembering that we
are not reading the later chapters of Revelation. This in itself tends
to confirm the conviction that there is a real identity between the
heavenly and earthly Jerusalem, the former being the subject of the New
Testament, and the latter of the Old, these unified in the Millennium,
as all Heaven and all earth shall be in eternity (Rev. 21:3).
in Solomon's day "silver was nothing accounted of," so what had been
valued loses its place, and everything, except the four metals that
figured the four world-empires in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, is put
aside. This should not be pressed into strict literalness, so as to
exclude even those beautiful woods that we have just been told shall
adorn the Sanctuary; nor, on the other hand, does it justify a
spiritualizing of everything so as to eliminate all reference to
Israel, and the appropriation of all for the Church. It speaks of vast
wealth in prophetic language, but it does not follow that we can insist
that it is solely spiritual gold, silver, brass and iron adorning a
spiritual "Zion," or Church. It is precisely that against which we are
warned, for it has made us, Gentiles, wise in our own conceits (Rom.
11:25), since we ignore entirely the purposes that God still has for
Israel. How far different from this beautiful picture is the condition
of the professing Church of these last days. Alas, the ignored poverty,
wretchedness blindness, and misery of Laodicea give a far truer
representation than this splendor. By verse 19 we learn by what means
Zion is to shine, and as we know not what we shall be in resurrection
(1 John 3:2), so there are indefinable glories here. For who can speak
of them? The heavenly Jerusalem is seen in the Apocalypse coming down
from heaven, enlightened by no natural sun or moon, but the glory of
God enlightens it and the Lamb is its light. It descends, and still
majestically descends, till above the earthly city, now filled with its
own corresponding beauty, it stays. Thus it shares its glory with that
city on earth over which it forms a canopy (chap. 4:5, last clause),
and the whole earth is enlightened by their unified beams which are
still purely the outshining of God's glory. Here then, in that one spot
during that millennial reign there is a "new heaven and a new earth" in
this two-fold Jerusalem, but not outside its limit. That universal new
heaven and earth must still await another and eternal day, at the close
of the Millennium, when again that mighty Voice shall cry "Done," for,
"Behold, I make all things new."
All the dwellers in that favored
land shall not be merely relatively, but absolutely righteous: not only
born again, and thus still having two divergent natures, the one evil
and the other good, for that would still leave a further work to be
done, as in Christians now; but all of them without exception shall be
"Jehovah's planting, the work of His Hands," and so perfectly
expressive of what He can do, so then there shall be no death there.
last verse gives an intensely interesting suggestion: there shall still
be growth. Even perfection does not forbid growth, as indeed we have
seen in one lovely instance (see Luke 2:52). So on earth the little one
becomes a thousand, and if there be one less esteemed than his
neighbors, he shall become a strong nation. Let that pattern of earth
throw its light on heaven; and we shall see that there too there is no
banal limitation in which, having reached all that is possible in one
burst, the redeemed have nothing before them for all eternity than to
contemplate that with which they have already become familiar. No;
there too, since the sphere of our contemplation is itself without any
limit but infinite, since it is God as revealed in Christ, there must
necessarily be constant and endless growth as here patterned for us in
the earthly Israel. We do not enter heaven with nothing more to be
discerned, with nothing to be hoped, with nothing to be attained beyond
what flashes upon us in that twinkling of an eye. There is growth, aye,
even without these limitations of earth, for the element in which we
grow is boundless, for it is "the fulness of God."
1 That is, Jehovah's glory not only shines upon Zion, but radiates for all to see.
2 As women often carry their children in the East.
There are two roots to the word here used, the first has been adopted
by the translators of A.V. "to flow together," the other, "to shine,"
hence "to be glad," and this is, I believe, the sense here.
4 The word for "glory" here has in it the idea of beauty. The line might be rendered, "Beauty shall fill the house of My beauty."
to the exact place that is here meant by "Tarshish," when Young tells
us that this means "Tartessus" in Spain, or Carthage in Africa, or
Ceylon in India; that the original Tarshish, son of Javan, settled in
Italy, and there was a Tarshish on the Red Sea; whilst Knobel places it
in Tuscany, and Josephus in Cilicia—we are disposed to gather that the
word is to be applied to no specific country, but to the sea itself,
and to those maritime nations that bordered it, being thus a parallel
with "isles," in the first line. In the Septuagint (Isaiah 2:16) the
word "tarshish" is rendered by "sea"; which confirms the suggestion.
Delitzsch and others translate the word to denote the kings being
literally led as captured forces. It is not impossible, but seems
hardly in line with the willing offerings of the Gentiles, nor does the
word necessitate it.
7 The prime meaning of the word
is "to be dried up," denoting the loss of water, as in Gen. 8:13. The
verse throws its light on Rev. 16:12.
8 "The meaning is that righteousness is to Jerusalem what the whole body of civil officers are" to a city (Delitzsch).
9 Much too free as a translation, but giving the idea in the words literally rendered, "And thy gates praise."