This chapter picks up from where the previous one ended. If righteousness and praise are to spring up before all nations, the question is how and where? The answer has already been given in previous chapters, but now it is taken up again with fresh vigor. It is from Zion that righteousness will shine out like the dawn, and salvation like a blazing torch, and all nations will see it (vv. 1-2). Zion was profoundly important to Isaiah, not just because he was a patriot, but because he was acutely aware of its strategic significance in God’s purposes. He could not keep silent about it (v. 1a). The future of Zion in God’s plans was the theme of his preaching, and when preaching became impossible it became the theme of his prayers (vv. 6-7). In chapter 61 he thanked God for clothing himself in salvation; now he affirms again that God will do the same for Zion. Isaiah’s own words (vv. 1-5) merge into those of the Lord (vv. 6-12). The prophet and his Lord are completely at one; their hearts are fired by the same vision. In the similar way the historical Zion (Jerusalem) opens out into the city of God of the last days, the kingdom of God comes to earth. There is continuity; the new will emerge from the old. But there is also discontinuity. The new will be so different from the old that it will require, and be given a new name (vv. 2b-5, 12).
At times the description of Zion in this chapter is very concrete – its name, its land, its walls. In other places it’s more abstract: glory, salvation, righteousness. But in a sense the last verse of the chapter is the key to it all. The real glory of Zion will be its inhabitants: the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord (v. 12), gathered in from the nations as well as from Israel (v. 10). The chapter as a whole is much more about God’s delight in His people than about bricks and mortar. Cities, land, walls, people, glory, are all aspects of one dazzling reality: God with His people and they with Him forever. Descriptions of Zion in a passage like this are, at their deepest level, descriptions of the people of God in their final, glorified state.
Verses 1-5 rise to the climax of 5b: your God will rejoice over you. It is an impressive reminder of how significant God’s people are to Him. His interest in them is not casual, but focused, determined, and full of love. They are destined for glory (v. 2), to be held aloft as a trophy in the Lord’s hand (v. 3), and to be married to Him as His bride forever (vv. 4-5).
The reference in verse 5 to God rejoicing prepares the way for the switch to God as speaker in verse 6. He has a word of encouragement for all those who, like Isaiah, give themselves no rest but call on the Lord unceasingly to bring His plans for Zion to fruition. They are like watchmen whom God has set on Jerusalem’s walls. He is the one who has raised them up as intercessors, and therefore they are licensed to be bold. They are to give the Lord Himself no rest until His promise is fulfilled. The Lord is not offended by such bold intercession; it is precisely the kind of praying that He desires and commands. But there is a fine line, as we all know, between boldness and presumption. Boldness of the kind we are talking about here is justified only where prayer is based directly on the revealed will of God. That is why the encouragement to be bold in verses 6 and 7 is followed immediately by a divine oath and a divine proclamation, in which the Lord’s purposes are reaffirmed in the strongest possible terms.
The oath (vv. 8-9) concerns God’s determination to bring His people finally to a position where they will no longer be preyed upon and exploited by their enemies. Instead, they will have a rich reward for their toil, eating and drinking in God’s presence and praising Him for His goodness, because there is no-one greater than Himself to swear by, the Lord swears by His own right hand and …mighty arm. His own invincible power is the guarantee that His oath will be fulfilled.
The proclamation (vv. 10-12) is in effect an announcement that the time has come for the final great pilgrimage to Zion to begin. The promise of a Savior is about to be fulfilled (v. 11), so those still in captivity in Babylon are set out quickly as a vanguard to the multitudes who follow, both Jews and Gentiles (v. 10). The future city of God will be a far cry indeed from desolate, ruined Jerusalem of the sixth century BC. It will be full of holy, redeemed people, the joy of the whole earth (v. 12).
Rightly understood, there is tremendous encouragement in this passage for us in our own praying, for so much of what Isaiah confidently expected is now happening. We live in the last great era of history. The promised Savior has come to Zion, a banner has been raised for the nations by the worldwide proclamation of the gospel, and the final great pilgrimage has begun. If Isaiah had good reason to pray boldly for the fulfillment of God’s promises concerning Zion, how much more do we! “Father, may your kingdom come, may your will be done!” Amen!
Isaiah 62:1-12 Reflection Questions:
With piety, study and action, are you completely at one with Jesus?
Are you fired up by the gospel? What are you doing to share it?
What does this study on this chapter say to you about God’s character?
Do you really understand how much God loves you? Don’t forget it, because that’s exactly what the enemy, the world, and the flesh wants you to think…you’re not good enough, too sinful, you don’t deserve it, etc.