Isaiah 62 shows the answered prayer for Jerusalem’s restoration. The whole world lies under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19), and wicked national leaders carry out the will of their spiritual father the devil (Eph. 2:1-3). Despite the world’s satanic hatred of Israel, Jesus Christ will bring the kingdom of God to this world, and He will restore apostate Israel. Isaiah 62 tells us about this future restoration.

Zion’s future is one of great glory.  Chapter 62 presents four major themes related to this future glory:  the prayer for Zion’s glory (v. 1), the metaphorical illustrations of Zion’s glory (vv. 2-5), the intercession for Zion’s glory (vv. 6-9), and the preparation for Zion’s glory (vv. 10-12).

The prayer for Zion’s glory (v. 1)

The Babylonian invasion brought the fall of Judah, an interruption to the reign of the Davidic dynasty, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the destruction of God’s temple.[1]  God had to judge the sin of His people, but exile and desolation are not the end of the story.  Hughes explains, “While Israel experienced separation from God because of her sin (Isa. 50:1), a day is coming when the believing nation will be fully restored as Yahweh’s bride (cf. 54:4–10).”[2]  By His design, Israel did repopulate the land after the fall of Babylon, but they were again sent into dispersion by the Romans in A.D. 70.  For over 1800 years Israel was driven from Zion and the city lay in ruins.  The need is prayer for restoration.

The intensity of the prayer (v. 1a)

Here in verse 1, we see a two-fold, parallel prayer for the restoration of Zion’s glory:  “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet.”  Commentators have questioned who is speaking this prayer.  Some believe this is Isaiah,[3] but many have seen it as being God Himself.[4]  Martin notes, “Since ‘I’ in verse 6 seems to be the Father, verses 1–5 may also be spoken by Him.”[5]  The idea is clear:  God Himself will never rest, and He will never take a passive place of rest until everything that He has promised is fully accomplished.[6] 

God’s people should also be committed to praying for the coming of the kingdom and the restoration of Zion.  Jesus exemplified this priority when He told the disciples that the first thing they should pray is, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10).[7]

The object of the prayer (v. 1b)

The goal, writes Isaiah, is that Zion’s righteousness would go forth like brightness (nogah),[8] and her salvation would go forth like a burning torch.  Once again, we see the pairing of the ideas righteousness and salvation in such a way that they represent God’s faithfulness to His promises (cf. 58:8; 60:1, 3).  His salvation will bring ethical righteousness to Zion, but here we see the idea that it comes because of the operation of God’s saving grace.

The metaphorical illustrations of Zion’s glory (vv. 2-5)

Throughout history kings have bragged about the glory of their kingdom (cf. e.g., Dan. 4:30).  Isaiah uses two illustrations to show that the restoration of Zion is going to eclipse anything this world has ever seen.

First metaphor:  A crown metaphor (vv. 2-3)

Based on the intensity of the language, one can only imagine how beautiful this restoration will be.  We are reminded of God’s word to Daniel:  “How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!” (Dan. 12:12; cf. Isa. 30:18).  The world will marvel over the glory of Zion (v. 2), a glory that can be compared to a beautiful crown (v. 3).

A glory for the world to marvel at (v. 2).  The future glory of Zion will be so great that all the nations will see and take note (cf. 2:3; 45:14, 22-25; 49:23; 60:3).[9]  God tells Zion, “you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate.”  From the Old Testament we see that this expression typically conveys the idea of a fresh start and new beginning (cf. e.g., Gen. 17:5, 15; 32:8).  Since one’s name often signifies one’s character, it is probably best to understand that Zion’s new name will be something related to the righteousness that Zion will experience when Christ brings her restoration.[10]  Jeremiah makes the same point:

In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called:  the Lord is our righteousness (Jer. 33:15-16).

An appeal to the immediate context comes in verse 4 where God says, “But you will be called, My delight is in her, and your land, Married, for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married.”  God’s grace will restore Zion, and it will be a glory over which the world will marvel.

A glory comparable to a beautiful crown (v. 3).  Isaiah goes on to compare future Zion to a beautiful crown using two different Hebrew terms for crown.  The “crown of beauty,” perhaps “beautiful crown,”[11] comes from the Hebrew ‘atarah (Isa. 28:1, 3, 5; 2 Sam. 12:30; 1 Chron. 20:2; Song 3:11; Zech. 6:11-14), a general word for crown, but one that can be used for nobility (Esth. 8:15) or royalty (Jer. 3:18).  The key point is beauty and glory.  The second term “royal diadem” comes from tsenuph, the idea of a royal turban wrapped around the head (Isa. 3:23; 62:3; Zech. 3:5).  Despite Zion’s past sin, God’s grace will make her an object of supreme glory (Isa. 46:13; 60:9).  Pfeiffer explains, “God will not be permanently thwarted in his plan to create a holy nation, despite Israel’s sorry record of failure.”[12]

Second metaphor:  A marriage metaphor (vv. 4-5)

The metaphor shifts to that of marriage and a bride.  The point is that in her youth, Zion was a complete failure in being a bride, wife, and mother.  All that will change when God restores her.

The dreadful past (v. 4a).  Because of her sin and exile, Zion’s past could be described by the terms “forsaken” (‘azubah) and “desolate” (shemamah).  Both reflect the shame, reproach and stigma of the former punishments that led to Zion being forsaken and desolate and without children (cf. 54:1).[13]  All that is going to change one day.

A glorious future (vv. 4b-5).  In the kingdom God will take away the shame and reproach of Zion’s past, and she will become a beautiful, fruitful bride.  God says, “you will be called, My delight is in her [chephtsiy-bah],[14] and your land, “Married,” for “the Lord delights [chaphats] in you, and to Him your land will be married [be‘ulah]” (v. 4b; cf. Hos. 2:19-20).

Isaiah explains, “For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice [sus] over you” (v. 5).  When Jesus returns, Israel will be permanently reunited with their land.  And, as we saw in chapter 54, when this marriage is restored, the land will explode with a huge growth of spiritual seed.  Thus, explains Smith, these new names,

accurately describe the new state of the nation in the future when God has marvelously transformed his people and their land. The old way of life will be over, and this new reality will involve a complete transformation of God’s people.[15]

This is the glory that God has promised to His city Zion.

The intercession for Zion’s glory (vv. 6-9)

All of these great promises are something to pray for.  Here in verses 6-9 the theme turns back to prayer for the restoration of Zion.  Isaiah explains this as watchmen who reminds the Lord of these promises (vv. 6-7), and then follows this with the solemn promise that Zion will never again fall to enemy invasions (vv. 8-9).

Watchmen who always remind the Lord (vv. 6-7)

Watchmen were soldiers posted on the tops of the city walls.  Their job was to keep constant watch at night and sound the alarm if an enemy should attack (cf. 21:11ff.; cf. 52:8 where a synonym is used).[16]  Constant attention and vigilance are key ideas.  God uses this imagery to convey the idea that His watchmen are there to constantly remind Him about His promise to restore Zion (v. 6).  It is not that God needs anyone to keep Him awake, but Isaiah uses this metaphor to say that these watchmen will give God no rest, “until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (v. 7; cf. Jer. 33:9-11; Zeph. 3:20).

Zion’s future security (vv. 8-9)

Back in 54:17, God told Zion, “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper, and every tongue that accuses you in judgment, you will condemn.”  Zion will be secure in the messianic kingdom, the same idea we see again here in verses 8-9.  With a most-solemn oath (45:23; 54:9; cf. 22:14; Heb. 6:13-20), God assures Zion that never again will enemy powers invade and plunder them as in past ages (v. 8; cf. Isa. 52:1).  From now on, the fruit of one’s labor will stay with the one who labored for it:  “But those who garner it will eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary” (v. 9; cf. Isa. 65:21-23).[17]  God’s promise is that Zion will be saved and forever secure forever:

So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you.  For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken, says the Lord who has compassion on you (Isa. 54:9-10; cf. 12:1).

God’s promises are great, and God’s promises are certain.  All of this gives Israel great reason for joy and hope no matter what life might bring.

The preparation for Zion’s glory (vv. 10-12)

These great promises call for preparation, the final idea we find in the closing verses of chapter 62.  Isaiah shows us the need for a smooth path (v. 10), and the need for a loud proclamation (vv. 11-12).

The need for a smooth path (v. 10)

Using language found elsewhere throughout the book, Isaiah cries out, “Go through, go through the gates, clear the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples” (11:16; 19:23; 35:8; 49:11, 22; 52:11; 57:14).  The King is coming, and it is urgent that the path is smooth (cf. Isa. 40:3-5).[18]  Israel needs to prepare for the King by repenting from its sin and turning to the Lord.[19]  Smith explains, “This road that the people in Zion are to prepare is a spiritual way of life that smooths the relationship between God and man . . . [so that] all offensive stumbling stones are removed.”[20]

In the New Testament, it was John the Baptist who first cried out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord; make His paths straight!” (Matt. 3:2-3).  Jesus Himself gave the same command:  “Jesus began to preach and say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).

The need for a loud proclamation (vv. 11-12)

The message of the King is urgent, and for this reason there needs to be a loud proclamation that goes out to the whole earth.

God’s own proclamation (v. 11).  God makes His own proclamation by crying out, “Say to the daughter of Zion, Lo, your salvation comes.  Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”  The King is coming and He will deal righteously with every man according to his deeds.  For those who respond, the “reward” (sakar, wage; cf. Isa. 40:10; 65:7) and “recompense” (phelullah, wage, punishment; cf. 40:10; 49:4; 61:8; 65:7) will be entrance into the kingdom, but to those who disregard God’s Word it will be eternal judgment according to deeds (cf. 66:24).

The proclamation by the Gentiles (v. 12).  Verse 12 shows us the proclamation that will come from the Gentiles:  “And they will call them, the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and you will be called, sought out, a city not forsaken” (cf. 62:4).  The redemption (ga’al; cf. 35:9-10; 51:10-11) of Israel has come because of the cleansing of her sins, so from now on she will be the holy people whom God has always desired (Exod. 19:6; Lev. 19:2; 20:7; Zech. 14:20-21; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).

Summary and application

God’s promises are great, and God’s promises are certain.  For Israel, this means that she can live with hope for a future and not let fear overcome her.  The same principle applies to every Christian who walks by faith during the present age.  Among the most precious of these promises is the promise that Jesus made when He said, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).

[1] Three major dates are associated with these events:  (1) the initial invasion and overthrow of Judah and the Davidic dynasty (605 B.C.), (2) the second wave of exile when Jehoiachin was taken captive (597 B.C.), the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple (586 B.C.).

[2] Hughes, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, 268.

[3] Grogan, “Isaiah,” 336.

[4] Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah:  Chapters40-66, 578.

[5] Martin, “Isaiah,” 1116.

[6] At different points in Isaiah, Israel has accused God of being silent or uncaring (e.g., 40:27; 42:20, 25; 49:14; 50:1), but despite His judgment on their sin, this accusation is not true (42:14; 45:15-19; 50:1; 57:11; 64:12; 65:6).

[7] This passage shows a strong relationship with Ezekiel 36:19-23 where Ezekiel spoke about a worldwide recognition of God’s holiness in the messianic kingdom.

[8] We see this term “brightness” (nogah) numerous times in Isaiah (4:5; 50:10; 60:3, 19; 62:1) (Oswalt, The Bookof Isaiah:  Chapters40-66, 536, n. 19).

[9] Here we see the pairing of righteousness (cf. 58:8; 61:10) and glory (cf. 40:5; 44:23) instead of the pairing of righteousness and salvation.

[10] Grogan, “Isaiah,” 336.

[11] Young, TheBook ofIsaiah, vol.3, 468.

[12] Pfeiffer, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary:  Old Testament, Is 62:1.

[13] The latter term (shamam) often speaks about the desolation and pollution that brought defilement and ruin upon all Zion, and especially the temple (Isa. 49:8, 19; 54:1; 61:4; Dan. 8:13; 9:26, 27; 12:11; Matt. 23:38).

[14] This was the name of Hezekiah’s wife (2 Kings 21:1).

[15] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 648.

[16] In the OT, this term was sometimes applied to the prophets (Ezek. 3:17; 33:7).

[17] According to the OT, when Israel would come to the temple, the people would eat of the tithe in the courtyards, the place where they would give corporate praise in the name of Yahweh (Lev. 23:39-40; Deut. 14:22-26) (Young, TheBook of Isaiah, vol.3, 472).

[18] This expression “standard” (nes) also is another favorite (Isa. 5:26; 11:12; 13:2; 18:3; 33:23; 62:10).  The idea is that of a flag, banner, or pole that signals the coming of the King.

[19] Grogan, “Isaiah,” 337.

[20] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 653.

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