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Once again the scene shifts. The exile is receding in the past and the remnant of Israel—those who survived God’s judgment and Babylon’s cruelty—are working hard to rebuild their lives and communities. But life back in Jerusalem under Persian rule is not faring as well as they hoped. So once again a prophetic voice breaks the silence to address a discouraged population. Most people are facing terrific difficulties. Despite what their prophets have spoken, Jerusalem is a mere shadow of the great city their parents and grandparents knew. People doubt whether God is really alive, or really all that powerful, or really even cares. But the faithful know that God is powerful and does care; they are determined to convince their countrymen that He has their well-being in mind. He can make this people and this place great again, if they just trust and follow Him. Soon the whole world will be caught up in this brand new thing God is doing.

This section of Isaiah is written to a singular female as if she is the mother of the Jews. But this woman isn’t just any woman—she is Jerusalem. Cities are often described as female because they are like mothers supporting a brood of children (the population). This capital city of God’s special favor, of God’s presence, is filled with His people of the promise and is poised to become something new and glorious.

60 Arise, shine, for your light has broken through!
    The Eternal One’s brilliance has dawned upon you.
See truly; look carefully—darkness blankets the earth;
    people all over are cloaked in darkness.
But God will rise and shine on you;
    the Eternal’s bright glory will shine on you, a light for all to see.

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