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Lowell Brueckner

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A Thousand Years of Glory


55. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 60

From time to time, as we have contemplated the works of Isaiah, we have noticed some very heartening beginnings to the chapters. However, with a few exceptions, because of present or future conditions in Israel, known by the Spirit of the Lord, Isaiah needed to turn to warning or rebuke before the chapter ended. Chapter 60 is probably the brightest prophecy yet, concerning their future. It is refreshing to find 22 verses that tell of unalloyed blessing, reinforcing the proverb of Solomon, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Pro.10:22).

Literally, Israel will become the light of the world

It begins: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (v.1). The word is directed towards Israel and specifically to Mount Zion. A literal fulfillment is the most natural and logical one that we can give to its contents, especially in light of Isaiah’s prophecies that have already been fulfilled. I refer to the word concerning the destruction of the Assyrian Empire, fulfilled shortly after it was predicted. I refer to the defeat of the Babylonian Empire by the Persians. In the latter, the Holy Spirit gives the literal name of the conqueror, Cyrus, well before he was born. We have studied a good number of Messianic prophecies, foretelling the first advent of Christ, fulfilled to the letter. 

Only a pre-conceived position would compel a student to divert from the clear projections of future events, just as Isaiah gave them, into a complex maze of synthetic theory. However, that is exactly what amillennialism and post-millennialism provide. Reformist thinking and doctrine were not perfect and it is a mystery to me that so many Christians would give them unqualified trust.

We conclude, therefore, that in the future Israel will again stand out as a light to the nations of the world. Its light will be the glow of the glory of the Lord that shines upon it. This is divine truth, as factual as history, because the omniscient God is the source of its revelation. The prophecy is given in the present tense, because “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). What God says, will be, and is absolute and sure today. To the God-trusting Jew, it brings wonderful encouragement in his darkest hour. He may stand upon the promise of Jehovah regardless of the opposition.

“Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you” (v.2). The prophecy will see fulfillment during earth’s darkest hour… the Great Tribulation. God’s people must not conform or judge their circumstance by what is happening in the world. Light shines all the brighter in an intense blackness. The conjunction but shows that regardless of the darkness roundabout, the Lord’s intention is to manifest His glory through His own. Paul proclaims His purpose to the Philippian church: “That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Php.2:15).

Let me point out that this light does not testify of some high quality of human existence, to which their fellows in this world can see and strive to attain. It is not at all human or worldly, but godly and heavenly. It has come to them, shined upon them and gives testimony to the reality of God in His people. His glory is seen upon them and they give glory to Him. The nations will be attracted to His light that has risen upon them (v.3).

The literal and complete fulfillment of Isaiah’s inspired revelation awaits the Millennium. The nation of Israel will finally reach the purpose, for which they have been chosen since the calling of Abraham. They will become the leading nation upon earth and Jerusalem will be the capital city from which the Messiah reigns.

The ingathering has begun

We have already learned the beautiful news of verse 4 in chapter 49:22: “They shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” Here it states, “Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.” You can imagine the amazing comfort that this promise will bring to believing Jewish parents, who have been separated from their children. Let’s review quickly what has taken place.

It seems that as the Time of the Gentiles draws to a close, there will be a spiritual awakening among the Jews. During the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th Week, 144,000 godly Jews appear (Rev.7:4) and the next thing that we see is a great multitude of converted Gentiles (Rev.7:9,13,14). The Jews undergo tremendous persecution from the devil himself, but God intervenes and sends help and nourishment (Rev., ch.12). We learn from the Judgment of the Nations that Gentile “sheep” will support them through this time (Mt.25:31-40) and apparently, according to Isaiah’s account, they will secretly care for their children. After the Tribulation, they will return them to their parents.

The “gathering together” has already begun. Some may refuse to see it, but all you have to do is obey the prophet and it will be obvious to you: “Lift up your eyes all around, and see” (v.4) The end time events have begun and continue. National Israel is a reality again after approximately 1875 years of expatriation. There is still great trouble on the horizon, but it will pass and the glory of God will descend.  

“Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult…” All is the result of the presence of the Lord with His people and the blessing of His glory upon them. It is the source of the light and also the warming of the heart, which they sense. It turns to their national prosperity, from the sea and from all the nations of the world (v.5).   

Restoration of spiritual and economic prosperity

The language of end-time prophecy makes me think that much of the technology developed in the 20th and 21st Centuries will be destroyed during the Great Tribulation and livestock and transportation by animals will be important again. Camel trains will come to Israel from Midian, Ephah and Sheba bringing gold and frankincense for the building and service of the temple during the reign of Christ.   

Whether these will de descendants of the people who existed in Isaiah’s time or if they will come from the same territory, I cannot say. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham by Keturah, and Ephah was one of Midian’s sons. Midian occupied the land southeast of the Jordan River.  Ephah settled in the area around the Gulf of Akabah on the Red Sea. Sheba was a wealthy territory in Arabia. More importantly, all these nations with be alive spiritually and will come to Israel to give praises to the King. The news published and circulated in those days will be good news, which follows on the heels of recognition, acceptance and honor given to Christ (v.6).

Kedar was a grandson of Abraham and his people lived between Syria and Mesopotamia and the Nebateans occupied the famous defense city of Petra. They will bring flocks for ministry. We need to explain that in millennial times the Jews will sacrifice in the millennial temple. The last chapters of the book of Ezekiel (40-48) give the dimensions of that temple and the sacrificial system. This falls strangely on our ears, which are tuned to the teachings of the Church Age, the Time of the Gentiles.

It will help us to see this practice as something akin to the Lord’s Supper, a symbolic practice to commemorate the Lord’s death. The Jewish saint of the Old Testament understood that there was no virtue in the blood of bulls, lambs and goats to take away sin. He sacrificed in faith, looking ahead to the Lamb of God who would one day come to take away sin. In the Millennium, the symbolic sacrifices will be retrospective, as a memorial, honoring Christ’s sacrifice (v.7).

Zion will have the attention of the world and will attract the distant nations. Isaiah sees them coming in droves and asks about them. They will bring shiploads of Jews, returning to their native land with all that they have gained around the globe The Jews have always been known as prosperous business people. In the Millennium, we will discover that their business skill has not served to build personal fortunes, but God has given it to them as a gift, for His fame and for His holy purposes. “For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful” (v.8-9).

World leaders will send foreign aid to help re-build the walls of Jerusalem. In His mercy and grace, God will turn centuries of world-wide opposition around and the Jews will have the help and sympathy of the nations (v.10). They will have to keep the gates open 24/7, because commerce will be continuous, led by the rulers of nations. Think of the wealth that is amassed, as this takes place! (v.11)

Psalms 2:9 and three verses in Revelation describe the reign of righteousness of Jesus Christ as ruling “with a rod of iron”. Even though only righteous people enter the Millennium and perfect righteousness will prevail, we need to understand that during the generations that follow, not all the earth’s population will be righteous. However, verse 12 states: “The nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.” Swift and severe retribution will be served.

The resources of every land, for which some have been famous since their earliest history, will beautify Christ’s sanctuary. So was it intended to be since the beginning, for He is the worthy Creator, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All was created for His glory and the day comes, when He will receive from the earth that which is due Him. Lebanon yields the glory of its forests (v.13). He will tread on beautiful floors made from Lebanon’s wood.

A total reversal

The knees of enemies will bow at the name of Jesus Christ. It has always been the case that those who have hated God, also hated His people. That has certainly been true of the Jew and Jesus said it would be true of His disciples. The former foes will be repentant and humble before Him and His people. They will fully recognize His lordship and ownership. There will no longer be a question about the rightful possession of Jerusalem. It will be the capital city of His people and Zion will be His habitation. “They shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (v.14) Once again, Isaiah calls Him by the name, which had been revealed to him from the onset of his ministry. Holiness defines Him and it must define Israel and all those, who have anything to do with Him.

Isaiah continues to show the great transformation in Israel’s relationship with the rest of the world: “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age” (v.15). The priority of earth’s mightiest and most prosperous will be to feed Israel… for the glory of their God: “You shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (v.16).

Israel will arrive at the apex of its glory, greater still than at the time of Solomon, when gold was common and silver was nothing. See the former state reversed and the glory restored: “Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver, instead of wood, bronze, instead of stones, iron.” Israel will be rich in resources and outshining them all will be its spiritual strength: “I will make your overseers peace and your taskmasters righteousness” (v.17). There will be no abuse from leadership.

From the Millennium into eternity

Christ’s kingdom will be characterized by peace. His streets will be safe by day and by night and there will be no violence throughout the land. No enemy will threaten or invade from without and no cursing will be heard in public. “You shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.” (v.18).

It would appear that prophets could see future events, but could not perfectly distinguish where one situation would end and another begin. It is in the will of God that as time goes on and these events near, He will give clarity and discernment concerning them. They didn’t see the distance between the first and second coming of Christ, for example, and in this portion, Isaiah has given us a description of the Millennium. He began the chapter, speaking of the Lord’s glory upon the people, giving them light. Without making any distinction, he begins to talk of the light of eternity.

From verse 19 to the chapter’s end, He is giving us the conditions of the New Jerusalem, of which John wrote about 800 years later in Revelation 21 and 22. “The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory…. Your days of mourning shall be ended. Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever… I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it” (v.19-22).

We have already studied a principle, relating to the purpose of God, that shows that His plan may require many years and even centuries to form. However, when the time is ripe and everything is in place, suddenly He will bring it to pass. Four hundred years passed between the Testaments, in which time there was no prophet, nor any word from heaven. Then suddenly an angel appeared to a country priest, taking his turn at ministry in the temple.

Thirty more years go by, and then John the Baptist publicly begins his ministry. Within only four years after his appearance, the greatest events of history took place and Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father. Almost two thousand years have gone by since that day, but we can be certain that the last pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Then suddenly the time will come, of which He has promised, “I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it”!


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