It is here promised that the gospel temple shall be very lightsome and very large.
I. It shall be very lightsome: Thy light has come. When the Jews returned out of captivity they had light and gladness, and joy and honour; they then were made to know the Lord and to rejoice in his great goodness; and upon both accounts their light came. When the Redeemer came to Zion he brought light with him, he himself came to be a light. Now observe, 1. What this light is, and whence it springs: The Lord shall arise upon thee (Isa. 60:2), the glory of the Lord (Isa. 60:1) shall be seen upon thee. God is the father and fountain of lights, and it is in his light that we shall see light. As far as we have the knowledge of God in us, and the favour of God towards us, our light has come. When God appears to us, and we have the comfort of his favour, then the glory of the Lord rises upon us as the morning light; when he appears for us, and we have the credit of his favour, when he shows us some token for good and proclaims his favour to us, then his glory is seen upon us, as it was upon Israel in the pillar of cloud and fire. When Christ arose as the sun of righteousness, and in him the day-spring from on high visited us, then the glory of the Lord was seen upon us, the glory as of the first-begotten of the Father. 2. What a foil there shall be to this light: Darkness shall cover the earth; but, though it be gross darkness, darkness that might be felt, like that of Egypt, that shall overspread the people, yet the church, like Goshen, shall have light at the same time. When the case of the nations that have not the gospel shall be very melancholy, those dark corners of the earth being full of the habitations of cruelty to poor souls, the state of the church shall be very pleasant. 3. What is the duty which the rising of this light calls for: “Arise, shine; not only receive this light, and” (as the margin reads it) “be enlightened by it, but reflect this light; arise and shine with rays borrowed from it.” The children of light ought to shine as lights in the world. If God’s glory be seen upon us to our honour, we ought not only with our lips, but in our lives, to return the praise of it to his honour, Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15.
II. It shall be very large. When the Jews were settled again in their own land, after their captivity, many of the people of the land joined themselves to them; but it does not appear that there ever was any such numerous accession to them as would answer the fulness of this prophecy; and therefore we must conclude that this looks further, to the bringing of the Gentiles into the gospel church, not their flocking to one particular place, though under that type it is here described. There is no place now that is the centre of the church’s unity; but the promise respects their flocking to Christ, and coming by faith, and hope, and holy love, into that society which is incorporated by the charter of his gospel, and of the unity of which he only is the centre—that family which is named from him, Eph. 3:15. The gospel church is expressly called Zion and Jerusalem, and under that notion all believers are said to come to it (Heb. 12:22. You have come unto Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem), which serves for a key to this prophecy, Eph. 2:19. Observe,
1. What shall invite such multitudes to the church: “They shall come to thy light and to the brightness of thy rising, Isa. 60:3. They shall be allured to join themselves to thee,” (1.) “By the light that shines upon thee,” the light of the glorious gospel, which the churches hold forth, in consequence of which they are called golden candlesticks. This light which discovers so much of God and his good will to man, by which life and immortality are brought to light, this shall invite all the serious well-affected part of mankind to come and join themselves to the church, that they may have the benefit of this light to inform them concerning truth and duty. (2.) “By the light with which thou shinest.” The purity and love of the primitive Christians, their heavenly-mindedness, contempt of the world, and patient sufferings, were the brightness of the church’s rising, which drew many into it. The beauty of holiness was the powerful attractive by which Christ had a willing people brought to him in the day of his power, Ps. 110:3.
2. What multitudes shall come to the church. Great numbers shall come, Gentiles (or nations) of those that are saved, as it is expressed with allusion to this, Rev. 21:24. Nations shall be discipled (Matt. 28:19), and even kings, men of figure, power, and influence, shall be added to the church. They come from all parts (Isa. 60:4): Lift up thy eyes round about, and see them coming, devout men out of every nation under heaven, Acts 2:5. See how white the fields are already to the harvest, John 4:35. See them coming in a body, as one man, and with one consent: They gather themselves together, that they may strengthen one another’s hands, and encourage one another. Come, and let us go, Isa. 2:3. “They come from the remotest parts: They come to thee from far, having heard the report of thee, as the queen of Sheba, or seen thy star in the east, as the wise men, and they will not be discouraged by the length of the journey from coming to thee. There shall come some of both sexes. Sons and daughters shall come in the most dutiful manner, as thy sons and thy daughters, resolved to be of thy family, to submit to the laws of thy family and put themselves under the tuition of it. They shall come to be nursed at thy side, to have their education with thee from their cradle.” The church’s children must be nursed at her side, not sent out to be nursed among strangers; there, where alone the unadulterated milk of the word is to be had, must the church’s new-born babes be nursed, that they may grow thereby, 1 Pet. 2:1, 2. Those that would enjoy the dignities and privileges of Christ’s family must submit to the discipline of it.
3. What they shall bring with them and what advantage shall accrue to the church by their accession to it. Those that are brought into the church by the grace of God will be sure to bring all they are worth in with them, which with themselves they will devote to the honour and service of God and do good with in their places. (1.) The merchants shall write holiness to the Lord upon their merchandise and their hire, as Isa. 23:18. “The abundance of the sea, either the wealth that is fetched out of the sea (the fish, the pearls) or that which is imported by sea, shall all be converted to thee and to thy use.” The wealth of the rich merchants shall be laid out in works of piety and charity. (2.) The mighty men of the nations shall employ their might in the service of the church: “The forces, or troops, of the Gentiles shall come unto thee, to guard thy coasts, strengthen thy interests, and, if occasion be, to fight thy battles.” The forces of the Gentiles had often been against the church, but now they shall be for it; for as God, when he pleases, can, and, when we please him, will, make even our enemies to be at peace with us (Prov. 16:7), so, when Christ overcomes the strong man armed, he divides his spoils, and makes that to serve his interests which had been used against them, Luke 11:22. (3.) The wealth imported by land-carriage, as well as that by sea, shall be made use of in the service of God and the church (Isa. 60:6): The camels and dromedaries that bring gold and incense (gold to make the golden altar of and incense and sweet perfumes to burn upon it), those of Midian and Sheba, shall bring the richest commodities of their country, not to trade with, but to honour God with, and not in small quantities, but camel-loads of them. This was in part fulfilled when the wise men of the east (perhaps some of the countries here mentioned), drawn by the brightness of the star, came to Christ, and presented to him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Matt. 2:11. (4.) Great numbers of sacrifices shall be brought to God’s altar, acceptable sacrifices, and, though brought by Gentiles, they shall find acceptance, Isa. 60:7. Kedar was famous for flocks, and probably the fattest rams were those of Nebaioth; these shall come up with acceptance on God’s altar. God must be served and honoured with what we have, according as he has blessed us, and with the best we have. This was fulfilled when by the decree of Darius the governors beyond the rivers (perhaps of some of these countries) were ordered to furnish the temple at Jerusalem with bullocks, rams, and lambs, for the burnt-offering of the God of heaven, Ezra 6:9. It had a further accomplishment, and we trust will have, in the bringing in of the fulness of the Gentiles to the church, which is called the sacrificing or offering up of the Gentiles unto God, Rom. 15:16. The flocks and rams are precious souls; for they are said to minister to the church, and to come up as living sacrifices, presenting themselves to God by a reasonable service on his altar, Rom. 12:1.
4. How God shall be honoured by the increase of the church and the accession of such numbers to it. (1.) They shall intend the honour of God’s name in it. When they bring their gold and incense it shall not be to show the riches of their country, nor to gain applause to themselves for piety and devotion, but to show forth the praises of the Lord, Isa. 60:6. Our greatest services and gifts to the church are not acceptable further than we have an eye to the glory of God in them. And this must be our business in our attendance on public ordinances, to give unto the Lord the glory due to his name; for therefore, as these here, we are called out of darkness into light, that we should show forth the praises of him that called us, 1 Pet. 2:9. (2.) God will advance the honour of his own name by it; so he has said (Isa. 60:7): I will glorify the house of my glory. The church is the house of God’s glory, where he manifests his glory to his people and receives that homage by which they do honour to him. And it is for the glory of this house, and of him that keeps house there, both that the Gentiles shall bring their offerings to it and that they shall be accepted therein.
5. How the church shall herself be affected with this increase of her numbers, Isa. 60:5. (1.) She shall be in a transport of joy upon this account: “Thou shalt see and flow together” (or flow to and fro), “as in a pleasing agitation about it, surprised at it, but extremely glad of it.” (2.) There shall be a mixture of fear with this joy: “Thy heart shall fear, doubting whether it be lawful to go in to the uncircumcised and eat with them.” Peter was so impressed with this fear that he needed a vision and voice from heaven to help him over it, Acts 10:28. But, (3.) “When this fear is conquered thy heart shall be enlarged in holy love, so enlarged that thou shalt have room in it for all the Gentile converts; thou shalt not have such a narrow soul as thou hast had nor affections so confined within the Jewish pale.” When God intends the beauty and prosperity of his church he gives this largeness of heart and an extensive charity. (4.) These converts flocking to the church shall be greatly admired (Isa. 60:8): Who are these that fly as a cloud? Observe, [1.] How the conversion of souls is here described. It is flying to Christ and to his church, for thither we are directed; it is flying like a cloud, though in great multitudes, so as to overspread the heavens, yet with great unanimity, all as one cloud. They shall come with speed, as a cloud flying on the wings of the wind, and come openly, and in the view of all, their very enemies beholding them (Rev. 11:12), and yet not able to hinder them. They shall fly as doves to their windows, in great flights, many together; they fly on the wings of the harmless dove, which flies low, denoting their innocency and humility. They fly to Christ, to the church, to the word and ordinances, as doves, by instinct, to their own windows, to their own home; thither they fly for refuge and shelter when they are pursued by the birds of prey, and thither they fly for rest when they have been wandering and are weary, as Noah’s dove to the ark. [2.] How the conversion of souls is here admired. It is spoken of with wonder and pleasure: Who are these? We have reason to wonder that so many flock to Christ: when we see them all together we shall wonder whence they all came. And we have reason to admire with pleasure and affection those that do flock to him: Who are these? How excellent, how amiable are they! What a pleasant sight is it to see poor souls hastening to Christ, with a full resolution to abide with him!