Isaiah 59:16–63:6. Jerusalem of the Future?
Key Notes: Four references to Messiah: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Is Jerusalem a real city in the future? Isaiah 60 is glorious to read aloud.
This passage contains a promise of overwhelming blessing for Israel, and four new Messianic prophecies. The problem we will try to solve is to understand the future of Jerusalem, a city greatly troubled, as it often has been before. Is the reference to Jerusalem to be taken literally or is it a figurative expression of the Church?
The notes for Isa.54–55 started this discussion of the military history of Jerusalem. Reformed theology holds that the promises of OT Israel are transferred to the Church. Some Baptists and others think Israel has a permanent place in God's economy. We shall see that both are true.
59:16–21 The first Messianic reference in this passage describes The LORD as a man of war, bringing vengeance on the nations. He will come to Zion as Redeemer, turning Jacob from sin and putting his covenant words into their mouths. God's Spirit will be upon "you" (masculine singular) indicating that the Messiah is in view here too; that is, the Holy Spirit is upon Him. See Isa. 61:1
60:1–22 Read the chapter aloud. It is full of wonderful words and ideas, a lyrical masterpiece.
Israel will return, her children carried to her from afar, with gold and silver, the wealth of nations pouring in. The light of God will replace the sun and moon. God will be glorified. There will be no violence or destruction and no mourning. The Light is the second messianic reference.
61:1–3 Read the chapter aloud first.
The third messianic reference was chosen by Christ to preach at Nazareth (Lk.4:18–21). In it, Jesus announced that the Spirit of God was upon Him. He brought the Gospel to the poor, comforted the broken-hearted, liberated captives and preached the year of the Lord's favor. [He omitted "and the day of vengeance of our God..." I think because that was yet to come.]
61:4–11 Israel will rebuild, with the help of foreigners. It will be universally understood that God has blessed them. Righteousness and praise will be exhibited before the nations.
62:1–12 Israel will no longer be forsaken and desolate, but will be the Lord's delight, a holy people. She will not be sapped by invaders.
63:1–6 This final arresting portrayal of Messiah describes Him coming from Edom. His garment is dyed red with the blood of the slain of the world whom He has destroyed. (See Rev.19:13). The words "Edom" (red) and "Bozrah" (vintage) are emblematic. But why would Edom be chosen as a primary battle site? From Heb.12:16 we know that Esau is an example of the profane, worldly person for whom God's covenant and blessings are of no account. We suppose that Edom / Esau is used in typical fashion here to represent the profane people of the world.
Then why not think that Jerusalem is a typical / allegorical city as in Gal.4:25–6 or Heb.12:22? Most interpreters read Isa.60–62 as referring to the Church, since Israel ceased to be a nation when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. But how do they interpret the prophecies since 1948 AD?
Isa.2:1–4 says that in the latter days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be raised above the hills and peoples will flow to it to learn from the God of Jacob.
Isa.4:2–6 says that those who are left in Zion will be called holy. The Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion a canopy of smoke and fire.
Joel 3:20 " Judah shall be inhabited forever and Jerusalem to all generations."
Zech.14:3 "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when He fights on a day of battle. On that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east..."'
These passages tell us to think of Jerusalem of the future as the real city. We associate a rebuilt Jerusalem with the Second Coming of Christ and His rule during the Millennium.
We also understand the ultimate New Jerusalem as coming down from God out of Heaven. Rev.21:1–3
Let us review the four Messianic passages.
•Isa.59:16–21 Messiah as warrior repays His adversaries and enemies with wrath as Jesus prophesied for Advent II. (Matt.25:31–46). He also came to Zion as redeemer and covenant-maker (Advent I). (Heb.9:15–22)
•Isa.60:1–3 The light of the glory of God shines, and therefore we may shine. This light will replace the natural lights forever in the New Jerusalem (Rev.21:22–26) where the Lamb is the Light.
•Isa.61:1–3. Jesus fulfilled this part of the prophecy during His life--Advent I. Note that His personal endowment of the Holy Spirit is unmeasurable (Jn.3:34) while we are given the Spirit in measurable amounts. (Eph.4:7). Jesus is not just an unusually Spirit-filled man as some heresies (Nestorianism) have taught.
•Isa.63:1–6 This picture of Jesus as a warrior is like that of Rev.19:11–18, treading the winepress of the wrath of God Almighty.
Only the third of these four passages (61:1–3) is associated primarily with Christ at his first coming (Advent I). The first and fourth teach the judgment at the Second Coming. The second belongs to the New Jerusalem.
Why would God offer wonderful hope and promise to a nation that has had mostly trouble and tribulation for the last 2700 years? Would it not be cruel to hold out the carrot so long? What is the connection between the Messianic references and the promised blessings? Both the Second Coming and the New Jerusalem are far off, perhaps even now.
The text is like a fabric. It has warp threads of blessings: the covenant, redemption, the light, the glory, the wealth, joy, peace and happiness. The woof threads are Christ's work as redeemer, liberator, comforter, administrator of justice and righteousness. Together the warp and woof make a divine fabric, which has "Salvation comes from Christ" written all over it.
Our experience is that wherever Christ is exalted, there is righteousness and peace in the Holy Spirit. The light that He brought to Israel (Isa.9:1–4; Jn.1:9) has never been extinguished.
He creates miniature new Jerusalems wherever His people meet, whether in house churches, mega-churches or cathedrals, in anticipation of the final fulfillment. Where He is glorified, God is glorified. Where God is glorified, people are greatly blessed.