This chapter presents one of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible of the Kingdom of God. It portrays the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant where those who have blessed his seed are blessed and those who have cursed them are caused to submit. In his seed all nations are finally blessed and Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is resplendent in glory.

There is a dramatic change of tone when compared with the previous chapters (57–59): the voice of reproof is now silent, the lamentations over iniquity are a thing of the past, and the reason for this is clear, the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah has come to Zion to occupy the throne of David in accordance with God’s promise to him (2 Sam 7:10–16; Luke 1:30–33). The resurrection has taken place, faithful saints have been granted immortality and rulership and priesthood in Messiah’s Kingdom (Rev 3:21; 2:26–27; 4:4; 5:9–10; 20:4; 11:15; 2 Tim 2:12; Matt 19:28). The natural seed of Abraham will have “turned from transgression” (59:20) and joy takes the place of mourning.

60:1–3 Zion is called upon to arise and dispel the gloom of the nations

60:1–3 “Arise, shine; for thy light is come [roth ‘hath come’], and the glory of Yahweh is risen [roth ‘hath beamed’] upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness [roth ‘deep gloom’] the people: but Yahweh shall arise [roth ‘hath beamed’] upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles [roth ‘So shall nations’] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising [roth ‘dawning’].

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee” Who is the light who has come? The Redeemer who has come to Zion (59:20). He is the source of enlightenment by whom the fortunes of his people have been restored (cp 9:2; 49:6; John 1:9; 8:12). He is “the glory of the Lord”, manifesting grace and truth (cp 40:5; John 1:14; Heb 1:3).

Who is to arise and shine? The av comment above the chapter applies the words to the church, and others to Gentiles through the progress of the gospel, which was thought to be the way Gentile darkness would be dispelled! But plainly from the magnitude and scope of the vision in this chapter, Zion is referred to, in the day when our Lord comes with power and great glory. The context, before and after, precludes any other application.

So it is Zion, the “wife” of Yahweh, once forsaken and refused (54:6–7), but now by mercy and kindness restored (54:8–10). She is the subject of the call to arise and shine. She is multitudinous, made up of saints of all ages, Jew and Gentile, the “mother of us all” (Gal 4:26; Isa 66:10–12), the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22; Rev 21).

Another feature is the tense of the verbs, as evident from Rotherham’s translation. They are in the past tense, showing that the prophet is taking for his standpoint the fulfilment of his prediction: he pictures as accomplished facts Zion’s coming glories. This emphasises its certainty.

In Ephesians 5:14 these words are cited generally, and are thought to be words of a hymn sung by first century believers (cp v19).

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth” Here the reason is given for the call to Zion to arise, shine: the appalling condition of the world prior to the advent (Luke 21:25–26). The Lord questions whether he will find faith in the earth when he comes again (Luke 18:8); and he likens our days to those of Noah, in which the inhabitants of the earth were given to self-indulgence, hedonism, violence and corruption of God’s way (Gen 6:11–12); the prevailing evil being such that men cannot see a way out, there is despair and optimism for the future has been lost. These conditions have made Zion’s rise imperative.

“but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” These are glorious words, reaffirming what has been said in the opening verse. In Zion he will destroy “the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations” (25:7).

60:3 “And the Gentiles [roth ‘So shall nations’] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” Here is the result of Zion’s re-emergence; her light, wisdom and stability are as a bright light in a pitch black night, drawing all nations to her (cp 2:2–3; Jer 16:19; Zech 14:14).

Notice, too, that these words are cited in Revelation 21:24 of new Jerusalem.

60:4–7 Zion is called upon to lift upto worship. They bring with them the wealth of land and sea. her eyes, to behold the convergence of her sons and all nations, coming to her

60:4 “Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side [mlb ‘carried to you on the hip’].”

This is an emotional, compelling picture and builds on that in 49:18,22,23; 54:1–5. The vision Zion beholds is of her sons and daughters hastening to the light that has illuminated her. Every other destination, every other country or metropolis pales into insignificance when compared with the light and glory that belongs to Zion!

60:5 “Then thou shalt see, and flow together [roth, rsv ‘be radiant’], and thine heart shall fear [roth ‘throb’, mrg ‘tremble’, rsv ‘thrill’], and be enlarged; because the abundance [roth ‘fulness’] of the sea shall be converted [rsv ‘turned’] unto thee, the forces [rsv, lxx ‘wealth’, roth ‘riches’] of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.”

Then Zion shall see, but for now the words of Paul apply, “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom 11:25). What Zion beholds makes her face radiant and her heart to throb and tremble for sheer joy. There is the need for enlargement of heart to embrace so great a multitude claiming allegiance to her!

“the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee” The treasures of land and sea will be brought to her. The Hebrew word for “forces” is chayil, which is variously translated, often as army forces, but also as riches, eleven times (including Isa 8:4; 10:14; 30:6; 61:6) in the sense of spoil.

60:6 “The multitude of camels [lb ‘vast droves’] shall cover thee [lb ‘will converge upon you’], the dromedaries [roth, rsv ‘young camels’] of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth [rsv ‘proclaim’] the praises [mlb ‘fame’] of Yahweh [roth ‘And the praises of Yahweh shall they joyfully tell’]”.

Listed here are the descendants of Abraham by Keturah (Gen 25:1–4). All points of the compass are thereby indicated, converging on Zion, the source of light and blessing. These countries today, Arabia and the Arab Emirates etc, are now exceedingly rich as a consequence of vast revenues flowing into their coffers from the export of oil. The wealth of the world has been concentrated there, and now it is brought by the camels and swift dromedaries, the proverbial ‘ships of the desert’ to Jerusalem.

Gold and incense, the most precious of gifts fit for royalty, are appropriately offered to the God of heaven and earth (cp Matt 2:11; 1 Kings 10:10). The Psalmist corroborates this picture, “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts” (72:10). There was a time when Midian’s camels came for spoil (Judges 6:5–6), but it is a different story now!

“and they shall shew forth [rsv ‘proclaim’] the praises of Yahweh” This is a notable prophecy showing the conversion of Arab peoples to the true God, the God of Israel. No longer are the cities of Mecca and Medina the focus of their pilgrimage, nor Allah their God – “they shall shew forth the praises of Yahweh”.

It is notable that these words are cited by Peter (1 Pet 2:9), but added to them are other thoughts drawn from the context about light and darkness (v1–3). “But ye are a chosen generation … that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

60:7 “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory [roth ‘And my beautiful house will I adorn’].”

The two names mentioned here are sons of Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar (Gen 25:13; 16:1–16). Sacrifice of animals will be reintroduced and offered upon the great altar of the ‘Temple of the Age to Come’, the “house of prayer for all nations” (56:7; 66:20; Mark 11:17; Mal 3:3–4). Bedouins, still today wanderers and shepherds, will be converted and minister to Zion of their flocks, and find acceptance.

The final phrase in this verse begins a theme that finds great expression in this chapter, the beautification of God’s dwelling-place: His house will be set amidst verdure, trees and flowers that will exhibit His creatorial power and awe His worshippers (cp v13).

60:8–9 Zion’s sons restored to their natural Home

60:8 “Who are these that fly as a cloud [mlb ‘roll in like’], and as the doves to their windows [roth ‘cotes’; mlb ‘dove-cote openings’]?”

Doves are of the pigeon family and have the same homing instincts (cp Gen 8:9). It is a glorious picture. Standing upon a headland, as it were, we can see many large ships approaching (v9) bearing Zion’s sons. They travel with the speed of flying clouds and the naturalness of homing pigeons. So from land and seas the devotees come.

The question asked in this verse is answered in the following, Zion’s sons. They return to the now glorified city.

60:9 “Surely [rsv ‘For’] the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of Yahweh thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.”

“Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first” (mlb ‘Surely the islands must wait eagerly on Me. The vessels of Tarshish are among the first’ ) Here is depicted a dramatic change in the attitude of the nations towards the natural seed of Abraham, the Jews. They willingly put themselves at the disposal of the “Holy One of Israel” for they have witnessed His mighty power and His favour towards His people and His city. The ships of Tarshish, the large vessels of the Western trading nations, offer their services to repatriate Zion’s sons and their substantial wealth. This is devoted “unto the name of Yahweh thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel”; and the reason for this is epitomised, “because he hath glorified thee [Zion].” This is the post-adventual regathering (66:19–20).

Reference to “their silver and their gold” may apply to the immense wealth of Jewry in Western countries, for example the Rothschilds’. The world’s wealth shall be dedicated to the Temple (Hag 2:7–9), fulfilling the type in the days of Solomon (v17; 1 Kings 10:22–24; 2 Chron 1:15).

60:10–14 The nations submit, serve and glorify Zion

60:10 “And the sons of strangers [rsv ‘foreigners’] shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.”

Gentile labour will be used to construct Zion, her walls, her Temple, as in the type of Solomon (1 Kings 9:20–22). These have already been drawn to Zion’s light and been converted, so their labours will not be exacted but offered willingly. See also 61:4.

“for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee” Yahweh’s blessings upon His people will be as tangible as His judgments (cp Jer 32:42; Isa 54:7–10; 57:16–18). The word for mercy, racham, expresses the strong feelings of compassion a mother or father has for a child (cp 49:15).

60:11 “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces [rsv ‘wealth’, cp v5] of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought [rsv ‘their kings led in procession’].”

The picture is of Zion’s gates left open continually to cope with the procession of dignitaries and kings who will come with their wealth, supplicating the favour of Christ (cp Psa 72:10–11, 17; Isa 2:2–4). Again, here is the antitype of what happened in Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 10:24–25). Compare Revelation 21:25, where these words are cited of the Lamb’s wife, the heavenly Jerusalem, the perfected body of the saints.

60:12 “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”

An ultimatum will be issued from Jerusalem, calling for submission to the Son, enthroned in Zion (Psa 2:10–12; Rev 14:7). Some nations will submit (Western powers) and others (Catholic European powers) will not heed and will regard Christ as an imposter, the Antichrist. They will be dealt with accordingly (cp Zech 14:17–19; cp Isa 2:4).

60:13 “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree [rsv ‘cypress’], the pine tree [rsv ‘plane’], and the box [rsv ‘pine’; lxx ‘cedar’] together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.”

Only the most precious woods of Lebanon will be used to beautify the house where the God of heaven has chosen to “place (His) feet” (cp 41:18, 19). The place He has chosen is Zion, where David’s sacrifice, following the numbering of Israel, was accepted (cp Deut 12:5; 1 Chron 21:28–30; 2 Chron 3:1; 6:20, 41; Psa 132:13–17).

Using similar terms, Ezekiel records, “Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever …” (43:7).

Again, the use of the Lebanon’s timbers for the Temple was foreshadowed in Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 5:7–10).

60:14 “The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and them that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, the city of Yahweh, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

Zion’s arrogant oppressors shall become her humble suppliants. Anti-semitism and genocide have been the lot of the natural seed of Abraham. The attitude to Zion’s sons, now converted to Jesus, their Messiah, will dramatically change. “Ten men … shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew” and will seek to go with him because it will be evident that God is with him (Zech 8:22–23). The Hitlers and Hamans of this world will be shamed. The historical persecution of Jews by the Church will come to a humiliating end.

These words are also cited and applied to spiritual Israel by the Lord when writing to the ecclesia at Philadelphia. The Lord tells them their persecutors will be made “to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” Those who overcome were promised a permanent place “in the temple of my God”, as pillars; and the “name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem”, will be written on them.

What a wealth of rich reflection for saints there are in these words, this vision, and how we are inspired by the contemplation of such precious promises.