Reading through the Bible together
Like a magnificent sunrise, a new day would dawn for God’s redeemed people, after a night of terrible darkness. The Babylonian exile would take God’s people to one of the lowest points in their experience as the Chosen Race. They would feel totally abandoned by God (v.15) and despised by the nations, covered, as it were, with a thick, black burial shroud. Many years before this disaster finally happened, God sent His people a message that would shine a light at the end of the tunnel. How like our gracious God to do this!
In earlier chapters of Isaiah we find God’s promise that He would appoint a “messiah,” Cyrus of Persia, to deliver them from physical captivity. Far more importantly, though, He promises them that the long-awaited Messiah would deliver them from moral captivity, from spiritual darkness and bitterness, from their blindness, rebellion and idolatry. The Suffering Servant would mend their broken relationship with God. Truly the glory of Yahweh would rise upon them with healing in its wings.
And not on them alone! At the beginning of creation when darkness covered the earth, at God’s command “Let there be light!” a new world began to emerge. So the salvation-work of the Messiah would usher in the promise of a “new heaven and a new earth.” The foundations of the Kingdom of God would be laid.
The heartbeat of the new kingdom will be worship. God expresses His hope that the returning remnant will, at last, live out His dream of reclaiming the world as His. Isaiah outlines the “abundant life” that would result for them as a nation ruled by God and obedient to His Law of Love. It would be a time of wealth and prosperity, health and joy so compelling that nations and kingdoms as well as disaffected family members would stream to Zion to honor the LORD their God, the Holy One of Israel. Jerusalem would be a city of peace and praise, of justice and righteousness; a city whose “gates are never shut, day or night” (v. 13). Sorrow and alienation would be at an end (vv. 20,15). There would be no need of sun or moon, for God would be their everlasting light, their eternal glory (v. 19). The entire universe would be part of this Kingdom.
The vision makes it clear that no human failure will stand in the way of God’s ultimate purposes both for this planet and the universe. Any individual or community that accepts God’s redemption moves out of darkness into the Glorious dawn of God’s Truth. For them the Kingdom of God HAS come (60:1)! They will live the “abundant life” Jesus promised them (John 10:10). Filled with the indwelling presence of the “Light of the World” we will “Arise and Shine,” as lights in this dark world (Matt 5:14,15). We will be the shoots “He plants for the display of His splendor” (v. 21 b).
There is no ‘maybe’ about it. As surely as the great I Am exists, it will happen…but, “in its time” (v. 22 b)!
Partners in Ministry Coordinator
Greater Sydney Conference, Australia