Here we have a vision of the restored exiles back in Jerusalem. This is the baseline context of these latter chapters of Isaiah. We know that these wonderful portraits of a people back in their homeland is something that ultimately looks ahead to the ministry of Jesus while on this earth and that of his Spirit amongst his New Covenant people as well as then beyond that to the consummation of all prophetic hope – the return of Jesus and the glorified people of God inhabiting the new heavens and the new earth!
In verses 1 to 5 God declares that he will proclaim the coming glory of Zion (Jerusalem as the physical embodiment of God’s people) where her “righteousness” and “salvation” will shine brightly for all to see. “You will be called by a new name” is an indication of the transformation undertaken by God highlighted by the names given to his people in exile, Azubah (“Deserted”) and Shemamah (“Desolate”), in contrast to the new names given to his restored people, “Hephzibah” (my delight is in her) and “Beulah” (married). The new status enjoyed by those returning from exile as those under the favour of God is expressed in terms of a wife loved by her husband. The assertion, “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you” denotes that the citizens of Jerusalem will be committed to the covenant relationship with God.
We move on to the second half of this oracle: Whereas in verse 1 God pledged himself to be vocally active until Jerusalem was restored, here God calls the prophets (“watchmen”) of Jerusalem to petition him until the deliverance for the exiles occurs. God promises that “never again” will he allow foreigners to seize their produce. Throughout the different sub-sections of the second half of Isaiah there is a call to prepare the way (see 40:3 and 57:14). There is an apparent progression in these calls from a call to prepare the way of the LORD, to prepare the way for what appears to be Israel and here to prepare the way for Gentiles as well. “See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him” echoes 40:9-11, signalling God’s deliverance for those in exile where the renewed Jerusalem will be honoured and revered. Of course the acclaim afforded to Jerusalem relates to a far greater vision of the redeemed people of God from the nations comprising the Church both in this age and the age to come!
When we think about the restored exiles described as a community that God delights in as his bride, let’s cherish the wonder of the Church of Jesus being such a community collectively but, by definition, comprising people like you and I whom God delights in and whom have been transformed by his love and grace!
PRAYER: Let’s thank God for each other! Think about those in your church family, maybe your community group or maybe from churches across the globe. Thank God for our diversity and yet we are united in Christ. Thank God for the God-qualities you see our church family, for our growth in Him and for his commitment to us. Pray for those you know in our church family who are in need. Thank the Lord that He made a way for us to be welcomed in as children of God through Jesus Christ!
SONG: Awake, awake O Zion