Isaiah 60 begins the last section of the book containing the same subject matter that continues to the end of the book. The subject had also changed sharply, previously in chapter 40 when the descriptions of the punishments and exiles of the nations of Israel and Judah at the hand of God, (when He used the Assyrian and Babylonian nations as the rod or instrument of his anger) was discontinued. That was the primary subject matter of the first 39 chapters. Secondary subject matter in that section were events which would effect surrounding nations like Egypt, Tyre, Edom, etc. and in the background of all,: the ultimate restoration of Zion through Immanuel, the branch or Nazar, had been introduced periodically and held in contrast to the physical visitations of the Assyrians and Babylonians.
Introduction to Chapters 60 to 66
From chapter 40 onward the scene changes to the restoration and future blessings of the nation after Babylon was punished by Cyrus who was to be raised up as a messianic figure. That which is predicted to result from the restoration wrought by Cyrus is not just the physical glory of the restored Zion in the second commonwealth, but also the perfected condition which would follow to which the physical nation would come during the time of, or at the end of, the second commonwealth. They are told that that first period of peace and enjoyment of physical blessing, (when the nation of Judah was restored and into which all the tribes would return,) would have come sooner if they had been faithful. Isaiah then shows that it is following this time of physical restoration that the Messiah who was present in creation was to be sent by "YHWH and His Spirit" to call the Gentiles into the perfected condition that God intended for Israel and all mankind to enjoy. Intermingled with these glorification predictions in chapters 40 to 49, the punishment of Babylon by Cyrus is completed and the transition to a description majoring on the Messiah's mission and the results of his mission begins in chapter 49. Chapters 50 to 53 describe the paradoxical nature of Messiah's mission with the crescendo of chapter 53 or the suffering Messiah. Chapters 54 to 59 deal with the reasons for the negative response of the natural nation to the Messiah. The sins of the nation that keep them in unbelief are exposed. Never the less, and in spite of the sins of the natural nation, the mission of the Messiah will be accomplished and the Gentiles are to be called into the restored Messianic Zion and peoples in a period of time described as "generation after generation" will enjoy the blessings of Zion which will be enriched by the wealth that the Gentiles bring with them.
Chapter 60 begins this new section which describes the return of God's people in physical terms but with spiritual application. The subject matter centers on the appearance of the Messiah in the first coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the events of his mission that led to the setting up of the Zion, which is the eternal church of Jesus Christ. It is not possible to literalize these passages although some try which makes them pick and chose which blessings and locations, and means of transportation are literal and then basically ignore the rest. There are no end time prophecies in these passages following chapter 60. They all refer to the greatest miracles and events of the history of the world. Some of those are: the incarnation, the ministry of the Messiah to the poor, the sacrificial death and the shedding of his blood, the call of the Gentiles into spiritual Zion, the announcement of the New Name (Christian), the day of Pentecost and birth of the church in chapter 66 and the end of that chapter is a picture of the of the evangelization of the world's nations, as a result of Pentecost, and their conquest as servants in Zion where they adopt the religious practices of the Jewish nation. These are events that shook the world and set the course of history for the past 2000 years. They do not have any reference to a future restoration of the natural nation to the land of Palestine. However coincidental some of the events of the past 100 years have been, that coincidence, beginning with the 1880's to the present; of the return of the natural nation to statehood beginning in 1948 and the current struggle to retain statehood and possession of the land, is very flimsy indeed. Does the natural nation and that period have anything to do with this final section of Isaiah? No, not at all. Is the natural nation an object of great interest, and is there the possibility of their being restored to the root of the Zion of God which has been possessed by the Gentiles for the past 1900 years? Will remarkable events take place in the Jewish nation which may yet effect all mankind? Yes, certainly that is not only possible but expected, but, and it is an important thing for you dear reader to see; but, these prophecies have nothing to say about those possible events.
These prophecies speak of the glorious blessings, spiritual as well as physical, brought on all nations, Jew and Gentile, by the mission of the "Nazar," by his sacrifice, death, and call of the Gentiles and the world evangelism which has ensued since the birth of Zion when, in 30 AD on Pentecost Sunday, she "brought forth in one day." That evangelization has accelerated in our generation and it appears it will reach it's crescendo in the lifetime of those reading these words.
What happens on the other hand if the passages are still to be fulfilled literally?
As one example among many, J.A. Alexander's commentary of 1846 (pub. Zondervan) reveals the mistake still held by many who hope in the restoration of the natural nation of Israel to the land of Palestine as a harbinger of the second coming of Christ and the establishment of a Millennial reign on earth when all the physical blessings which were promised to that nation are to be enjoyed. He spent some time on the prediction that the Jewish exiles will be brought home in "ships of Tarshish" and speculates on how Spanish ships are to be involved in the great return. Without going into who the "ships of Tarshish" are lets face the issue of what will happen if one takes the position that these passages literally describe a future event and actual conditions that will exist with the establishment of a kingdom among the Jews of Palestine at the second coming of Christ. As preposterous as that may sound, the majority of evangelicals now hold to this untenable position. There is hardly a conservative evangelical preacher, for instance, who would not consider it a heresy to deviate from this ridiculous position. Let us see that literalizing the symbolic language of the renewal of Zion under the messiah produces conclusions that are unthinkable. These symbols must be spiritually applied to the first coming of the Nazarene and the kingdom that he established, that "is not of this world." The only alternative or literal conclusions include these that follow. If one is to literalize one like "ships of Tarshish" then all must be made literal. I give a partial list of things and events that are predicted in the chapters 60 to 66.
The restored Zion will see Palestine
Covered with multitudes of Camels.
Dromedaries from Sheba'
Flocks from Kedar and Rams from Nabaioth for sustenance and sacrifice
Ships of Tarshish to be among the first and so many that they will look like flocks of birds returning the exiles.
Timber from Lebanon to rebuild the Temple.
The Messiah will squeeze out grape juice in Edom and Bozrah
Milk will be sucked from the breasts of Gentile kings.
There will be no sun and no moon but YHWH will be the light.
Neither the sun nor the moon will set, i.e. no rotation of the earth.
All the old Israeli cities are to be rebuilt.
All Israelis will have Gentile slaves to keep their flocks, till their fields, and gather their grapes.
The wealth of the Gentile captives will enrich the Israelis.
Flocks and herds will fill up the plain of Sharon and the valley of Achor.
There will be no weeping in the New Heaven and the New Earth of Zion
Everyone will live exceedingly long lives. If one dies at 100 years he will be considered a child.
They will have houses and vineyards.
The wolf and the Lamb will feed together.
The Lion will eat straw with the ox.
Jerusalem will have breasts and all who love her will suck milk out of them.
Jerusalem will have knees that we will sit on and be comforted.
YHWH will come to Zion in a chariot with fire and fury and destroy evil doers
He will kill lots of people.
The enemy will be eating mice and pork.
The ones who escape will be enlisted and sent on world conquest.
Those conquered will be brought back on horses and mules and wagons to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem the conquered gentiles will be made into priests and Levites.
The Gentiles shall gather to worship on the Sabbath and on the New Moons.
Their dead enemies will be visible to them as they gather to worship.
These and Physical Descriptions of Spiritual Events and Will not be Literally Fulfilled
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A literal interpretation of these predictions is absurd. On the other hand each one is easily seen in the spiritual benefits procured by the mission of Jesus of Nazareth and his death on the cross in Jerusalem, his resurrection, the day of Pentecost and the following evangelization of the world carried on by the "captured" Gentile nations which is still going on. One important conclusion of this view is the importance of the Church or Kingdom in the mind of God. The church of Jesus Christ is the restored Zion. Relative to this Isaiah said in 64:4
"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."
These blessings that were future and unrevealed to Isaiah except in symbols, Paul applied to the church age when he quoted this passage and said in 1 Corinthians 2:10
"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:"
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