The City of God-Isaiah 59b-60

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Isaiah58-60 WestLoop Why How What. "They will call you the City of the Lord, and Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isa 60:14b, NLT). "For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end" (Isa 60:20b, NLT).

"In the old order of creation, life was governed rigidly by night and day and unpredictably by the fitfulness of sun and moon. But in the new order of salvation, the ruling principle is the changeless presence of the Lord." Alec Motyer.

Isaiah 60 may be the (best Old Testament) picture of the world to come, i.e., of ultimate reality.

Revelation 21 draws freely for its picture of the radiant city from heaven. Isaiah 56-66 primarily addresses the dispersed Israelites who have returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. But the description in Isaiah 60 point far beyond the return from exile. The walls are not going to be built by Jews but by foreigners, and the gates of the city will ever be open. It is an idealised Jerusalem that is depicted--one that speaks of the eschatological days of redemption and bliss.

Isaiah 60-62 form the center section of the chiastic structure in which chapters 56-66 are arranged. (See the chiasm in Righteousness Precedes Revival.) These three chapters display the glorious future of a Jerusalem in which God's glory shines through his anointed Servant (Isa 61:1-3). That glory is an expression of the reality that will exist when the divine warrior's conqest of sin is complete (Isa 59:17).

What is the world to come like? What is ultimate reality like (in contrast to our present reality, which is often dark, violent, fearsome and evil)?

"In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa 2:2-3).

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb'” (Revelation 7:9-10).

"The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him" (Psalm 22:7).

"And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11).

  1. The Divine Warrior (59:12-21)
    1. Man's sin, rebellion and helplessness (12-15a)
    2. God--the solitary rescuer (15b-21)
      1. God amazed (15b-16)
      2. God acts (17-20): Judgment (17-19) and redemption (20)
      3. The Spirit and the word (21)
  2. The City of God (60:1-22)
    1. God in Zion--God's glory shines (1-3). The glorious light of God's kingdom.
    2. The world in Zion--God's remnant returns (4-9) and kings of the world submit to God (10-14).
    3. Zion transformed and enriched--Redemtion and restoration forever (15-22).

What is a covenant (Isa 59:21)? A Biblical covenant is God pledging himself, binding himself to us so that he becomes our God and we become his people. We're made the world a mess. But God's love for us is not a favorable mood swing. He loves us for reasons deep within his own being, and he decalres his love with a solemn oath (Heb 6:13-20). He guarantees our future, and he explains how he's going to get us there. He gives us his Spirit and his Word, and he'll never take them away. We should never separate the Spirit and the Word. God doesn't. And we need both. Without the Spirit, we get dry. Without the Word, we get weird. The Spirit and the Word together are enough to re-create the world.

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