Reading through the Bible together
In this chapter, Isaiah not only talks about Ethiopia but also about people living “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (verse 1). During the time of Isaiah’s writing, the Ethiopians were six years into their dynasty and their country included Somalia, the Sudan, areas of Western Africa, and probably also people south of Ethiopia near the Eastern coast of Africa. This nation can be called the “land of decorating wings,” if we follow the Egyptian root meaning of the word in the original.
Isaiah is discussing “the faithful” as opposed to the existing evil in this chapter but that division is not on racial color lines or nationalities. These people on the coast of Africa sent envoys by sea in papyrus vessels to other places (verse 2). They were tall, smooth, powerful, oppressive, and were feared (verse 2c-f). Isaiah now turns in his writing to that which is beyond his time to the last phases of earth’s history, the Second Coming of Christ. “As soon as a standard is raised on the mountains you will see it, and as soon as a trumpet is blown, you will hear it” (verse 3b-c). Yes, the trumpet shall sound and the whole world will hear it and Christ will come.
The Lord said to Isaiah: “I will look from My dwelling place [the heavenly sanctuary] quietly” (verse 4b). It is done “quietly” because the Investigative Judgment is completed and the Door of Mercy is closed. The refreshing coolness disappears before the “heat of the blazing sun” as during the harvest (verse 4). At this ripening of the evil harvest, the quiet listening of the Lord in His Sanctuary will end and He will “rise” (Daniel 12:1-2) and become active. He will cut off the shoots with pruning hooks and the spreading branches He will cut away (verse 5c-d). Michael, that is Christ, decides that enough is enough. At the Second Coming His reward will be with Him and His people will go up safely to Zion, but those who are evil “will be left for the mountain birds and the beasts of the earth as prey” (verse 6a-d).
This is not just Ethiopia or parts of Africa, but the whole evil world. The wicked will be slain by the brightness of the coming of Christ (2 Thess. 2:8), and the beasts will help themselves on their corpses.
Isaiah says, “At that time” namely, the Second Coming (verse 7a), those tall and smooth skinned people from Ethiopia and that part of Africa will bring “a gift to the Lord of Hosts” (verse 7a). Why “hosts”? Because He comes with all His angelic host. In my mind, it means that they are going to sing a beautiful song of “Thanksgiving” for their salvation through Christ. It is the gift of beautiful choir music from the saved (verse 7b-e). It will be to the Lord of hosts on heavenly mount Zion where the New Jerusalem is with Christ now in their midst (verse 7f).
Please help us to drop any misconceptions we have of people from other parts of the world. Help us to exchange any fears we might have of others and exchange such fears with the realization they will be bringing a gift to the Lamb of salvation on heavenly Mount Zion. Lord, grant that we may be there to witness this event with the saved of all times. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea