In the final chapters of the book of Isaiah, the prophet looked forward to a new day. Isaiah prophesied of a time when the people of God would be recognized as His showpiece and the nations would join them and experience the glory of the Lord. This framework had been God’s intent when He gave His people an inheritance in Canaan (Deut 4:1-8). Ironically, the Lord’s purpose would not be realized until after His people had been expelled from the land and finally allowed to return under Cyrus (2 Chron 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). Yet, the glory of the second temple and rebuilt wall around Jerusalem could not compare with the vision of the prophet in Isaiah 60-66. The words of the prophet here contribute to the unfolding portrait of the Messiah and His reign in the storyline of Scripture.
(1) The Messiah would come with good news and victory. Luke recorded that early in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus went to a synagogue in Nazareth and when the scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him, Jesus found Isa 61:1-2. He read Isaiah’s prophecy of One anointed by the Spirit who would come preaching good news to the poor and announcing the year of the Lord’s favor, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom for captives (Luke 4:18-19). Luke wrote that when Jesus finished speaking, everyone in the synagogue was looking at Jesus and Jesus told them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Luke 4:20-21). But the fulfillment of the messianic theme in Isaiah 60-66 is not limited to the Gospels. Isaiah’s prophecy of the Lord as a victorious warrior against the nations who opposed Him (Isa 63:1-6) may have been in John’s mind when he wrote of the Rider on the white horse who would come to strike the nations with the sharp sword coming out of His mouth (Rev 19:11-15). Accordingly, any who rejected His coming and His message would be destroyed in hell. Isaiah ended his prophecy by describing the place of judgement as an eternal fire (Isa 66:24) and Jesus used the same imagery when speaking of the destination of those who opposed His teaching (Matt 18:8-9//Mark 9:46-48).
(2) The Messiah would come for Israel and the Gentile nations. Isaiah voiced Israel’s petition for mercy and deliverance from the Lord. The Lord responded, “I was sought by those who did not ask; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said: Here I am, here I am, to a nation that was not called by My name. I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people” (Isa 65:1-2a). Paul employed Isaiah’s prophecy to the Jewish people of his own day. The Messiah had come from them and for them, yet just as Jews of Paul’s day had rejected the witness of the prophets of old, they rejected Jesus’ message too (Rom 10:20-21). Isaiah’s message from the Lord, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house could you possibly build for Me? And what place could be My home? My hand made all these things…I will look favorably on this kind of a person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa 66:1-2), was quoted by Stephen to confront the Jews of his day—those who had crucified Jesus and accused Stephen of blaspheming the temple—for elevating the temple above Him (Acts 7:49-50). The Jewish leadership had not recognized the new temple of Jesus and God’s covenant mercy to all nations in Him. Isaiah prophesied that together Israel and the chosen Gentiles would be His witness, saying, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance” (Isa 60:3). John reiterated Isaiah’s prophecy in describing the heavenly Jerusalem, illuminated by God and the Lamb. “The nations will walk in its light,” John said, “and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (Rev 21:24). Further, John noted of the heavenly city, “Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there. They [the kings of the earth] will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it” (Rev 21:25-26). Likewise, Isaiah had prophesied concerning the future of Jerusalem, “Your gates will always be open; they will never be shut day or night so that the wealth of the nations may be brought into you, with their kings being led in procession” (Isa 60:11).
(3) The people of the Messiah would be priests. Isaiah wrote that during the Messiah’s jubilee His people would be called priests of the Lord, ministers of God (Isa 61:6). In Isa 62:12, Isaiah wrote that the people of the Messiah would be called His holy ones. Even some from among the nations would be priests and Levites, Isaiah said (Isa 66:21). In his heavenly vision, John heard 24 elders singing to the Lamb, “You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9b-10). Peter likewise saw the significance of these texts in light of the coming of Christ; to the dispersed of his day, Peter wrote, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).
(4) The people of the Messiah would experience previously unknown intimacy with God, in the new creation. Isaiah prophesied of a future day when the Lord would create a new heaven and a new earth where He would delight in His people (Isa 65:17; 66:22). In Revelation, John echoed Isaiah, saying, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev 21:1-2). Isaiah wrote, “The sun will no longer be your light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not shine on you; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor” (Isa 60:19). John employed these themes when describing the heavenly Jerusalem: “Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev 21:23); “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev 21:23); and, “Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light” (Rev 22:5). Isaiah prophesied that in the day of the Messiah and God’s special presence with His people, the days of their sorrow would be no more (Isa 60:20; 65:19), a theme echoed by John in his description of the heavenly Jerusalem—where tears, death, and grief will be no more (Rev 21:4).