Isaiah 60:1-22 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What command does the Lord give to Jerusalem (see verse 1 printed below?) Contrast the state of Jerusalem with that of the world (see verse 2 printed below).

Arise, shine, for your light has dawned; indeed, the glory of Jehovah has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

Look, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the people; but Jehovah rises upon you, and his glory appears over you. (Isaiah 60:2)

Looking forward to the conclusion of the long seventy-year “night” of the Babylonian captivity—and all the way forward to the end of this present age of spiritual darkness—the Lord commands Jerusalem, “Arise, shine” (verse 1). The city of God is commanded to become like the morning sun: to arise and shine with a brightness that is seen throughout the world. The city of God is enabled to heed the Lord’s command because “your light has dawned; indeed, the glory of Jehovah has risen upon you” (verse 1b). Like the morning sun dispelling the darkness of the night, so the Lord Himself shines forth in His glory; He shines upon His people, awakening us by that glory and causing us to participate in it. Verse 2 describes the state of the world as being comparable to the night: all is enveloped in moral and spiritual darkness—but the Lord shines upon His people like the morning sun and that divine glory shines forth like a beacon to the dark world.

2. According to Isaiah 60:3 (printed below), what is the result of the Lord shining upon His people and causing them to share in His divine light?

Nations will come to your light, and kings will come to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3)

Verse 3 relates the results of the Lord’s shining upon His people: ““nations will come to your light”—Gentile peoples are converted to God through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (note Isaiah 42:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). Furthermore, “kings will come to the brightness of your dawn”—a reference to the powers and the rulers of the world submitting to the Lord and His Christ—and to His people as they are united to their Savior and share in His glory.

3. What kind of scene is being described in verse 4 (printed below?) When was this prophecy fulfilled in Israel’s history? What will be the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy?

Lift up your eyes and look around: they all assemble themselves, they come to you—your sons shall come from a distance and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. (Isaiah 60:4)

Verse 4 is describing a great re-gathering of God’s people, a great “homecoming,” a joyful “family reunion.” Jerusalem is commanded to lift up her eyes, look around, and see what the Lord is doing. As Jerusalem responds to God’s command, she sees a great re-gathering of her exiled sons and daughters as they are brought back home to their city and their land. Just as surely as the Lord brought His people out of the Babylonian captivity and back home to Israel, so He will bring all His redeemed into His heavenly home and eternal kingdom.

4. What blessing is promised to Jerusalem (as the city represents God’s people) in Isaiah 60:5-7 (printed below?) When will this prophecy have its ultimate fulfillment?

Then you will see this and be radiant with joy, your heart will throb and swell with happiness; because the riches of the earth will be brought to you over the sea, the wealth of the nations will come to you. (6) Herds of camels will cover your land, the young camels of Midian and Ephah. All the men of Sheba shall come to you, bringing gold and frankincense, and they shall proclaim the praises of Jehovah. (7) All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth will be at your service; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will glorify my temple with my glory. (Isaiah 60:5-7)

Jerusalem shall be “radiant with joy, her heart will throb and swell with happiness” —i.e.; Jerusalem shall beam with delight when she beholds the wealth of the world being brought to her (verse 5). The merchant vessels are portrayed as sailing to her ports on the Mediterranean, filled with their cargo (verse 5b). As she looks to the east, Jerusalem sees the caravans crossing the desert to bring her their treasures; the camels are loaded down with gold and frankincense (verse 6a). All the flocks of Kedar and the rams of Nebaioth are gathered to Jerusalem where they are offered up as a great and acceptable sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord (verse 7a). What this passage is poetically portraying is the abundance of wealth/blessing that the Lord will finally bestow upon His people at the end of this present age, as well as their expression of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord their God, and the acceptance of their person and worship by the Lord as they finally dwell with Him when heaven and earth are united in the renewed creation.

5. Having made all the promises contained throughout this chapter, what word of assurance does the Lord give at the conclusion (see verse 22 printed below?)

The least of you will become a thousand, and the smallest of you will become a mighty nation. At the appointed time, I, Jehovah, will cause it to happen suddenly. (Isaiah 60:22)

The passage closes with these words: “At the appointed time, I, Jehovah, will cause it to happen suddenly.” The point being made is that there is an appointed day for the fulfillment of all these things; and the Lord will see to it that nothing prevents the coming of that day. Indeed, the Lord is causing history to speed on to that great day.