IF ISAIAH 59 IS EXTRAORDINARILY BLEAK, Isaiah 60 blazes with glory. Here Zion returns---not the Jerusalem that the returning exiles gradually rebuilt, but the ultimate Zion, the kingdom of God coming to earth. If much of the symbolism still springs from the historical city, that is no surprise. Yet the vision transcends any merely earthly hope. As evidence, we note that there is no longer any sun or moon, "for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory" (Isa. 60:19; cf. Rev. 21:23). Here the sovereign Lord himself arises, infinitely more glorious than any earthly sunrise: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you" (Isa. 60:1). The previous chapter establishes the desperate need of the people, the raw evidence that they cannot really transform themselves. This chapter picks up on that dark picture and introduces the only possible solution: "See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn" (Isa. 60:2-3).
Three further observations:
(1) This Zion is home to nations and foreigners and kings, to "islands" (a way of referring to people a long way off), to people from countries that have nothing to do with the Promised Land (Isa. 60:3, 9-10, 14). Gentiles will join Jews in this kingdom, honoring those of the faithful Israelites who belonged to Zion before them. The light dawns in Jerusalem and spreads to all nations.
(2) All who refuse this glory face judgment: "For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined" (Isa. 60:12). The text offers no hope that the final Zion embraces all without exception; rather, it embraces all without distinction, provided they embrace "the Holy One of Israel" and "the City of the Lord" (Isa. 60:14).
(3) Above all, there is a glorious prospect of eternal longevity to what this kingdom brings. "I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler," God says. "No longer will violence be heard in your land ... but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise" (Isa. 60:17-19, italics added). Follow the temporal terms: the sun will no more be your light; the LORD will be your everlasting light; your sun will never set again; your days of sorrow will end; the people will possess the land forever (Isa. 60:19-21). The cycles of rebellion and repentance will end; the cycles of blessing and cursing will be no more. "I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly" (Isa. 60:22). Even so, come, Lord Jesus.