The promises made to the church in the Isa. 60:1-8 are here repeated, ratified, and enlarged upon, designed still for the comfort and encouragement of the Jews after their return out of captivity, but certainly looking further, to the enlargement and advancement of the gospel church and the abundance of spiritual blessings with which it shall be enriched.
I. God will be very gracious and propitious to them. We must begin with that promise, because thence all the rest take rise. The sanctuary that was desolate begins to be repaired when God causes his face to shine upon it, Dan. 9:17. All the favour that the people of God find with men is owing to the light of God’s countenance and his favour to them (Isa. 60:10): “All shall now make court to thee, for in my wrath I smote thee, while thou wast in captivity” (and the sufferings of the church, especially by its corruptions, decays, and divisions, against which these promises will be its relief, are sad tokens of God’s displeasure), “But now in my favour have I had mercy on thee, and therefore have all this mercy in store for thee.”
II. Many shall be brought into the church, even from far countries (Isa. 60:9): Surely the isles shall wait for me, shall welcome the gospel, and shall attend God with their praises for it and their ready subjection to it. The ships of Tarshish, transport-ships, shall lie ready to carry members from far distant regions to the church, or (which is equivalent) to carry the ministers of the church to remote parts, to preach the gospel and to bring in souls to join themselves to the Lord. Observe, 1. Who are brought—thy sons, that is, such as are designed to be so, those children of God that are scattered abroad, John 11:52. 2. What they shall bring with them. They live at such a distance that they cannot bring their flocks and their rams; but, like those who lived remote from Jerusalem (who, when they came up to worship at the feast, because they could not bring their tithes in kind, turned them into money), they shall bring their silver and gold with them. Note, When we give up ourselves to God we must with ourselves give up all we have to him. If we honour him with our spirits, we shall honour him with our substance. 3. To whom they shall devote and dedicate themselves and all they are worth—to the name of the Lord thy God, to God as the Lord of all and the church’s God and King, even to the Holy One of Israel (whom Israel worships as a Holy One, in the beauty of holiness), because he has glorified thee. Note, The honour God puts upon his church and people should not only engage us to honour them, but invite us to join ourselves to them. We will go with you, for God is with you, Zech. 8:23.
III. Those that come into the church shall be welcome; for so spacious is the holy city that though, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, yet still there is room. “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually (Isa. 60:11), not only because thou hast no reason to fear thy enemies, but because thou hast reason to expect thy friends.” It is usual with us to leave our doors open, or leave some one ready to open them, all night, if we look for a child or a guest to come in late. Note, Christ is always ready to entertain those that come to him, is never out of the way, nor can they ever come unseasonably; the gate of mercy is always open, night and day, or shall soon be opened to those that knock. Ministers, the door-keepers, must be always ready to admit those that offer themselves to the Lord. God not only keeps a good house in his church, but he keeps open house, that at any time, by the preaching of the word, in season and out of season, the forces of the Gentiles, and the kings or commanders of those forces, may be brought into the church. Lift up your heads, O you gates! and let such welcome guests as these come in.
IV. All that are about the church shall be made in some way or other serviceable to it. Though dominion is far from being founded in men’s grace, it is founded in God’s; and he that made the inferior creatures useful to man will make the nations of men useful to the church. The earth helped the woman. All things are for your sakes. So here (Isa. 60:10), “Even the sons of strangers, that have neither knowledge of thee nor kindness for thee, that have always been aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, even they shall build up thy wall, and their kings shall in that and other things ministers unto thee and not think it any disparagement to them to do so.” This was fulfilled when the king of Persia, and the governors of the provinces by his order, were aiding and assisting Nehemiah in building the wall about Jerusalem. Rather than Jerusalem’s walls shall lie still in ruins, the sons of the stranger shall be raised up to build them. Even those that do not belong to the church may be a protection to it. And the greatest of men should not think it below them to minister to the church, but rejoice that they are in a capacity, and have a heart, to do it any service. Nay, it is the duty of all to do what they can in their places to advance the interests of God’s kingdom among men; it is at their peril if they do not; for (Isa. 60:12), The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; not that they must perish by the sword or by human anathemas, or as if this gave any countenance to the using of external force for the propagating of the gospel, or as if men might be compelled by penalties and punishments to come into the church; by no means. But those who will not by faith submit to Jesus Christ, the King of the church, and serve him, shall perish eternally, Ps. 2:12. Those that will not be subject to Christ’s golden sceptre, to the government of his word and Spirit, that will not be brought under, or kept in, by the discipline of his family, shall be broken in pieces by his iron rod. Bring them forth and slay them before me, Luke 19:27. Nations of such shall be utterly and eternally wasted, when Christ shall come to take vengeance on those that obey not his gospel, 2 Thess. 1:8.
V. There shall be abundance of beauty added to the ordinances of divine worship (Isa. 60:13): The glory of Lebanon, the strong and stately cedars that grow there, shall come unto thee, as of old to Solomon, when he built the temple (2 Chron. 2:16), and with them shall be brought other timber, proper for the carved work thereof, which the enemy had broken down, Ps. 74:5, 6. The temple, the place of God’s sanctuary, shall be not only rebuilt, but beautified. It is the place of his feet, where he rests and resides, Ezek. 43:7. The ark is called his footstool, because it was under the mercy-seat, Ps. 132:7. This he will make glorious in the eyes of his people and of all their neighbours. The glory of the latter house, to which this refers, though in many instances inferior, was yet really greater than the glory of the former, because Christ came to that temple, Mal. 3:1. It was likewise adorned with goodly stones and gifts (Luke 21:5), to which this 5649 promise may have some reference; yet so slightly did Christ speak of them there that we must suppose it to have its full accomplishment in the beauties of holiness, and the graces and comforts of the Spirit, with which gospel ordinances are adorned and enriched.
VI. The church shall appear truly great and honourable, Isa. 60:14. The people of the Jews, after their return out of captivity, by degrees became more considerable, and made a better figure than one would have expected, after they had been so much reduced, and than any of the other nations recovered that had been in like manner humbled by the Chaldeans. It is probable that many of those who had oppressed them in Babylon, when they were themselves driven out by the Persians, made their court to the Jews for shelter and supply and were willing to scrape acquaintance with them. This prophecy is further fulfilled when those that have been enemies to the church are wrought upon by the grace of God to see their error, and come, and join themselves to it: “The sons of those that afflicted thee, if not they themselves, yet their children, shall crouch to thee, shall beg pardon for their folly and beg an interest in thy favour and admission into thy family,” 1 Sam. 2:36. A promise like this is made to the church of Philadelphia, Rev. 3:9. And it is intended to be, 1. A mortification to the proud oppressors of the church, that have afflicted her, and despised her, and taken a pleasure in doing so; they shall be brought down; their spirits shall be broken, and their condition shall be so mean and miserable that they shall be glad to be obliged to those whom they have most studied to disoblige. Note, Sooner or later God will pour contempt upon those that put contempt upon his people. 2. An exaltation to the poor oppressed ones of the church; and this is the honour that shall be done to them, they shall have an opportunity of doing good to those who have done evil to them and saving those alive who have afflicted and despised them. It is a pleasure to a good man, and he accounts it an honour, to show mercy to those with whom he has found no mercy. Yet this is not all. “They shall not only become suppliants to thee for their own interest, but they shall give honour to thee: They shall call thee, The city of the Lord; they shall at length be convinced that thou art a favourite of heaven, and the particular care of the divine providence.” That city is truly great and honourable, it is strong, it is rich, it is safe, it is beautiful, it is the most desirable place that can be to live in, which is the city of the Lord, which he owns, in which he dwells, in which religion is uppermost. Such a one is Zion; it is the place which God has chosen to put his name there; it is the Zion of the Holy One of Israel; therefore, we may be sure, it is a holy city, else the Holy One of Israel would never be called the patron of it.
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