The final part of Isaiah’s prophecy goes far beyond earthly brilliance.

“The sun shall no longer be
    your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
    give light to you by night,
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.
Your sun shall no more go down
    or your moon withdraw itself,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your days of mourning shall be ended.”

Isaiah 60:19-20 (NRSVUE)

Seven centuries later, John had a similar vision of his own.

“… the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”

Revelation 21:23-24 (NRSVUE)
Tree of Heaven | By Jennie Wilde (1865-1913) – Design by Jennie Wilde, via [1], Public Domain

Salvation for the World

Salvation is extended well beyond Israel to include all the nations of the earth. The people are transformed from sinful to righteous. Nothing unclean will ever enter, as the only people there have been written in the Lamb’s book of life.

“Your people shall all be righteous;
    they shall possess the land forever.
They are the shoot that I planted, the work of my hands,
    so that I might be glorified.
The least of them shall become a clan
    and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
    in its time I will accomplish it quickly.”

Isaiah 60:21-22 (NRSVUE)

Isaiah repeatedly used words that have finality: “forever,” “from age to age,” “everlasting.” Transformation by God is permanent and eternal.

Isaiah hinted that this is a prophecy a long way in the distant future, speaking in God’s voice, I am the Lord; in its time I will accomplish it quickly. God has staked God’s reputation on this promise. The Lord will keep it when the right time comes. God will not need favorable circumstances. When the time comes, the Lord will come quickly to bring in the last chapter of our story here on earth.

Will there be a literal fulfillment of all these details? Are these promises meant to be metaphorical? Are the allegorical for spiritual fulfillment? So far in Scripture, God’s way of doing things is to fulfill prophecy, concretely, literally and physically, but also in very unexpected ways, in ways that no one saw coming, and would never have guess. It is often only in retrospect that the people in the Bible realized a prophecy is fulfilled. It is reasonable for us today to believe that God will continue fulfill prophecy we are still waiting to see happen.

In fact, from the perspective of Christians, Isaiah’s prophecy is a portrayal of the Day of Salvation, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, the last chapters of human history are written, and the new heavens and new earth are brought forth. Jesus’ Second Coming is one of the most frequently talked about themes in the Bible—one in every twenty verses, many of them in the Christian Testament. Putting all these passages together, we get a sense that the Second Coming of Christ will be.

Figura dos corpos celestes, Bartolomeu Velho Volvelle 1568 – Internet, Public Domain

Christ’s Second Coming

Sure, Jesus had given His word to His disciples, His return is an actual day on the calendar

Physical, When the disciples saw Jesus going up into heaven, angels told them Jesus would come back in exactly the way they saw Him go – Jesus physically died and is physically resurrected.

Sudden, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…” “destruction will come on them suddenly…”  But it’s a particular kind of sudden, because it should have been expected all along, just as a pregnant woman doesn’t know exactly when the labor pains will come, but, being pregnant, she knows they will come.

Visible, It will be a very public event. Jesus will come down from heaven with a loud command, there will be the voice of an archangel, a loud trumpet call – the same loud trumpet call that terrified the Hebrews at the foot of Mt. Sinai in the desert. The dead will rise from their graves, the living will rise up into the air, and all Jesus’ holy ones will meet Him in the clouds as He descends.

Unexpected, for those who belong to the darkness, even in spite of Jesus’ promise, in spite of the expectation of all believers, in spite of the public proclamation of the Bible, unbelievers will be surprised, in the same way that a home owner would be surprised to see a thief in their house, or to be robbed. They never expected it to happen to them.

Jesus’ return will be followed by the Final Judgement.

Jesus’ first advent was not a day, but was thirty-three years long, including many events. It makes sense, then, to consider that Jesus’ second advent, the Day of the Lord, will cover a period of time with many events.

This is a folk-art allegorical map based on Matthew 7:13-14 | By Georgin François – Cornell University: Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Mode Collection, Public Domain

God is the Light

The city Isaiah describes is not anything you or I have ever seen. God had originally placed the sun and moon in the sky as lamps to light the earth. Now the Lord God is so present, in these verses, the sun and moon become obsolete. God has replaced lesser lights for God’s own light.

There are strong correlations between Isaiah’s vision Isaiah 60 and John’s vision in Revelation 21.

  • Both saw a city resplendent with jewels, the wealth of the nations have been used to beautify it. Even the streets are made of gold, as in Solomon’s day, when gold and silver was so plentiful.
  • The gates are never shut, day or night – and, in fact, there is no night.
  • There is no need for the sun and moon, because the brilliance of God’s glory spread light throughout the city, for all people.
  • Though Isaiah saw a glorious temple where the Lord’s feet rested upon the Ark of the Covenant, John saw that the temple will be the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, the heavenly reality.

Until then, you and I can certainly see that God is fulfilling these prophecies spiritually.  The apostle Paul explained to the church in Ephesus that God

“… raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NRSVUE)

The apostle Peter described God’s people as a temple with Jesus as the cornerstone, built up of living stones, believers, and in which God dwells. In Revelation, John described the new Jerusalem as the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.

The Lord’s transformed people are for the everlasting display of God’s glory

Since this is true, what are the implications? 

You and I traveled through time with Isaiah 60. We have seen the future through Isaiah’s eyes. Now, as you and I prepare to enter back into our world of today, how should we think about what we have just seen?

The apostle Paul said Abraham

“… waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore ‘it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’”

Romans 4:20-22 (NRSVUE)

The writer of Hebrews said that Abraham looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God, that he died in faith without having received the promises God had given him, but he knew in faith one day God would fulfill them. Abraham desired a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11).

So too for you and me, we long for that better homeland and look forward for the what God has in store for us.

By John Bunyan – Bunyan, John. 1821. The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come: Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream, Wherein Is Discovered the Manner of His Setting Out, His Dangerous Journey, and Safe Arrival at the Desired Country.Cornell University: Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Mode Collection, Public Domain

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2 thoughts on “Isaiah 60: A Better Country, A Beautiful City

  1. As I work to cleanse my inner vessel, I can feel and see this Light of Christ’s love 💗 so I am grateful for the day when it is so bright that the Sun and moon are no longer needed. Thank you for sharing your insights Joanne 🤗

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