(Part 1 of a 2 part study which seeks to refute the notion that the glories spoken of in this chapter refer to the ‘church’ and not to those clearly identified by the Lord in the chapter as the nation of Israel)
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee,” Isaiah 60:1.
I recently read with joy Isaiah chapter 60 as part of my daily Bible reading, though I confess that the notes at the beginning of the chapter in my Bible added by men, I found disconcerting and vexing to say the least. These notes are very common in most copies of the Authorised Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
The notes summarise the contents of Isaiah chapter 60 in the following fashion:
1. The glorious access of the Gentiles into the church. 15 The blessings of the church after affliction.
These notes are very misleading. They are just plain wrong! That is because they are written by men who held to an understanding of prophecy which is called ‘A-Millennialism’ or another view, ‘Post-Millennialism’.
Such are erroneous interpretations of Bible prophecy and the headings these spurious opinions have spawned and which appear at the beginning of Old Testament chapters dealing with end-time prophecy, are very wrong and are the cause of much error being believed by the readers of God’s Word.
Here is an example from the comments of a great Bible commentator, Dr John Gill.
“INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 60
As, in the two preceding chapters, the hypocrisy and formality, the profaneness and immorality, that should abound in the latter day, and even among professors of religion, are prophesied of; so, in this, a very ample account is given of latter daylight and glory; of both the spiritual and personal reign of Christ, with the latter of which it concludes. The light and glory of the church, in the spiritual reign, are described, #Isa 60:1-3 the numerous conversions of persons to it from all quarters, east and west particularly, are prophesied of, #Isa 60:4-8, the great usefulness those should be of unto it, in enriching it, and building it up, and in glorifying it, is declared, #Isa 60:9-13, as also the subjection of enemies to it; the favours it should receive from kings, and the fame and renown of it through all nations and ages, #Isa 60:14-16, its riches, prosperity, peace, and safety, #Isa 60:17,18 and the chapter is concluded with an account of the more perfect state of the church in the personal reign of Christ, when there will be a perfection of light and righteousness; and the number of God’s elect will be complete, and they will be all together, #Isa 60:19-22.”
Note that he speaks of the ‘church’ when the prophet is referring to Israel, as I hope to show you.
I value greatly his general Bible comments but must reject His views on eschatology for they sadly are very wrong. His views are but what was altogether common for many centuries amongst the best of men. However, I believe that God in His sovereign mercy drew many back to a true understanding of the Bible’s teaching about the return of Christ and its aftermath in the middle of the 19th century, though there was always a remnant who clung to a right understanding of the Bible’s teaching on eschatology, that is a post-tribulation, pre-millennial return of the Lord Jesus. It is the teaching set forth by the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony, whose website (www.sgat.org) provides many articles and sermon recordings and publications on this wonderful subject.
Rev Brian McClung’s sermon on the views of the early ‘church fathers’ demonstrates that A-Millennialism and Post-Millennialism were later inventions of men. (Read it here). Also his article on the views of the men who drew up the Westminster Confession of Faith is very helpful and informative. (Read it here)
NOT ALL HEADINGS ARE ERRONEOUS
Now, not all the headings at the beginning of Bible chapters are erroneous. The headings at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis chapter 1 for instance, are very helpful for anyone coming to the Bible for the first time. But those headings that are tied to prophecies of Israel in the latter-days are sadly anything but helpful, rather they plant the seeds of a false view of what the Lord says about the future times at the end of this age.
I wish to have a look at this chapter and I hope to be able to show that it does not deal with ‘the church’, but rather it deals with God’s ancient people, the nation of ISRAEL and the Lord’s future purpose regarding their conversion and the restoration of them to their position of being the premier nation on the earth.
1. The ‘Thee’ Referred To In Verse One Is Israel
The personal pronoun ‘thee’ appears in verse 2 and also in many other verses in the chapter. The possessive article ‘thy’ and in like manner, the possessive pronoun ‘thine’, refer to Israel. They appear in verse 3 and in other verses.
This chapter deals with that time when God in mercy lifts Israel from darkness and causes her to become a light in this earth as a result of His glory once again coming amongst His covenant people.
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee,” Isaiah 60:1.
The evidence that the Lord is speaking to and of Israel is very clear. Indeed, to claim that the Lord is speaking to and of any other people entails a clear REJECTION of the plain words of God!
In this world, God divides the inhabitants into two sections — Jew and Gentile. There is no other division. See these verses as an example of this division. “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God,” Romans 2:8-11.
This being the case, then Isaiah 60:3, indicates who it is that the Lord is speaking to and of by the use of the word ‘thy’.
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
There we have the Gentiles referred to and we conclude that the ‘thy’ refers to the only other segment of the earth’s inhabitants: THE JEWS!
2. There Is A Very Specific Reference To The Identity Of Those To Whom The Words Of Isaiah Were Directed
“The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel,” Isaiah 60:14. This is not a title given to the Gentiles at any time. It is exclusively used of the Jewish nation!
Furthermore, it is a ‘land’ that the Lord is referring to and which will be the subject of His restoring power and mercy. “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise,” Isaiah 60:18.
“Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified,” Isaiah 60:21.
3. There Is A Very Clear Reference To The City Of Jerusalem In The Chapter
“The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious,” Isaiah 60:13.
There is the specific reference to the feet of the Lord which can only be understood of His promised return to the Mount of Olives, which was given to the apostles at the ascension of Christ from Olivet to His Father’s right hand. “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey,” Acts 1:9-12.
This promised return was prophesied by Zechariah. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south,” Zechariah 14:4.
The phrase ‘that day’ is repeatedly mentioned in the last three chapters of Zechariah and it is the day of the Lord’s return to this earth, to the city of Jerusalem to establish His millennial kingdom. It is the ‘day’ when He shall redeem Israel from her rebellious ways and regenerate the remnant which has survived the ‘great tribulation’ by the grace and power of God.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness,” Zechariah 12:10-13:1.
John the apostle makes reference to this very event at the opening of the last book of the Bible. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen,” Revelation 1:7.
I believe that the word ‘kindreds’ is a specific reference to ‘all the persons descending from one of the twelve sons of the patriarch, Jacob’ as Strong’s Concordance explains it. The word ‘earth; is I believe a reference to the land of Israel. The Greek word ‘ge’ is so translated in the very first appearance of the word in the New Testament. “And thou Bethlehem, in the land (ge) of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel,” Matthew 2:6. Likewise it is a reference to the land of Israel in Matthew 2:20, 21. See also 4:15, 9:26 for some of the instances when ‘ge’ clearly refers to Israel. In the light of Zechariah 12:10, Acts 1:11 I believe we can say with certainty that Revelation 1:7 is referring to Israel and the Jews living there at the time of His return.
One verse that makes this very clear is Matthew 24:30. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Here is a reference to the ‘tribes’, a word almost exclusively used of the people of Israel and the word ‘earth’, which is our Greek word ‘ge’, is I believe is a reference to the land of Israel to which Christ will visibly return one day soon.
End of Part 1