Where we are:
|Part 1: Judgment||Part 2: Historical Interlude||Part 3: Salvation|
|Chapters 1-35||Chapters 36-39||Chapters 40-66|
When this takes place:
Chapter 62 is part of the second major section of Isaiah and deals less with Judah’s immediate plight than with its future deliverance from Babylonian exile and ultimate glory.
Isa. 62:4-5 – You will no longer be called Deserted, and your land will not be called Desolate; instead, you will be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married, for the Lord delights in you, and your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
The Lord promises to keep speaking and working until His purposes for Jerusalem are fulfilled. Although He has forsaken Israel because of her sin, He will restore the nation and redeem a faithful remnant. The people will throw off the disparaging names by which they are called and receive new names that testify to the world of God’s special relationship with the Jews. Unlike the corrupt leaders of the present day, new and faithful watchmen will be given to Jerusalem. They will constantly remind the Lord of His promises and delight in seeing their fulfillment. God promises the Jews they will never again lose their harvests to enemies but will enjoy the fruit of their labors in the shadow of His sanctuary. Finally, there is an urgent cry to “build up the highway” and “raise a banner for the peoples” because the Lord’s coming is imminent (v. 10).
Isaiah likens Jerusalem’s future relationship with Yahweh to a marriage. Rather than being called Deserted or Desolate – names that accurately describe the city in the depths of judgment – Jerusalem will be named Hephzibah (“My Delight is in Her”) and Beulah (“Married One”). When a bride marries, she receives a new name. Even though Israel already is married to Yahweh, He will give her new names that describe her spiritual renewal and depict the Lord’s profound joy in her. Verse 5b reads: “… as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.” This description of Yahweh’s special relationship with the redeemed of Israel complements the relationship Christ, the bridegroom, has with His bride, the church. Together, Jew and Gentile believers will share in a glorious and everlasting relationship with God.
Zion’s Bridal Beauty (Isa. 62:1-5)
The Lord speaks in these verses, declaring that He will continue to work on Jerusalem’s behalf until the nations observe her righteousness, salvation and glory, and the city is called by a new name. In the ancient Near East, names often signified character. So God’s promise to call Jerusalem by a new name includes giving her a new and righteous character. The city will be like a glorious crown in the Lord’s hand, or a diadem – a large medal ring – on His head, signifying that one day it will become a dazzling adornment. Since a crown is worn on the head and not the hand, “in the Lord’s hand” may be figurative for “under the Lord’s protection” (see Deut. 33:3). Jerusalem will display God’s splendor, meaning it will manifest His character in the people’s conduct. What a comforting promise this must be to those who, having survived an Assyrian siege, now await attack and exile at the hands of the Babylonians. The Lord punishes for a purpose. He is not finished with His people or His city. And future generations will bask in His glory.
“The city’s new relationship with God is compared to the happiness of a marriage. Rather than being called Deserted (cf. 62:12) or Desolate, previous characteristics of the city, Jerusalem will be named Hephzibah (‘My delight is in her’) and Beulah (‘Married one’). The words so will your sons marry you (Jerusalem) imply that people again will live in Jerusalem and God will be happy about the wonderful state of affairs” (John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, S. 1:1117). Hephzibah is the name of Hezekiah’s wife, who may be seen as a type of Jerusalem, just as Hezekiah may be seen as a type of the Messiah. The contrast between the present and future “married” state of Zion may also be seen in Isa. 54:4-6 and Rev. 21:2, 4.
Watchmen on the Walls (Isa. 62:6-7)
In Isaiah’s day watchmen are stationed on city walls, often in towers, looking out for approaching enemies – or messengers bearing good news. They are never to sleep on duty and their eyes are to be fixed on the horizon. The watches in the East are even announced by a loud cry to mark the vigilance of the watchmen. If they slumber, or even become distracted, enemies may breach the wall and take the city, or good tidings may be delayed. In a similar fashion, the
righteous people of Israel are to be alert on Jerusalem’s behalf. They are to watch, not only for those who oppose the Lord, but for the Lord Himself, who has promised to bless His people, their land and their great city. In fact, they are implored to give neither themselves nor God any rest until He fulfills His promise to establish Jerusalem and make her the praise of the earth. “The ‘watchmen’ were to hold God to His promises, knowing that is what He desires. God’s people should pray for things even when they know God has promised them. Jesus made this clear when He taught His disciples to pray that the kingdom will come” (Walvoord and Zuck, S. 1:1117). Today it is still appropriate for God’s people to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6).
The Lord’s Promise (Isa. 62:8-9)
God promises His people they will never again lose their harvests to foreign invaders but will enjoy the fruit of their labors in the courts of His sanctuary. The “right hand” by which the Lord has sworn assures them – and us – that He will accomplish all He has spoken. Isaiah records a similar message of assurance in Isa. 45:23: “By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked; Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance” (see also Phil. 2:10-11). And the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that God swears by Himself because there is no one greater: “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13).
The Jews will consume their bountiful harvests with thanksgiving, mindful that the Lord has provided peace and prosperity for them. At the same time, they will drink new wine from their vineyards in the feasts held in the courts surrounding the temple, as God has instructed them: “You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of the Lord your God at the place where He chooses to have His name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the Lord your God” (Deut. 14:23). “The greatest comfort that a good man has in his meat and drink is that it furnishes him with a meat-offering and a drink-offering for the Lord his God (Joel 2:14); the greatest comfort that he has in an estate is that it gives him an opportunity of honouring God and doing good” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, S. Is 62:6).
Salvation is Coming (Isa. 62:10-12)
The final verses of this chapter are written as if the Lord is on His way. There is great urgency in the message that God’s people should be ready, and should prepare the way for all believers to enter the once-deserted city of Jerusalem. The command to “build up the highway” and “clear away the stones” (v. 10) speaks metaphorically of the Jews’ spiritual preparation for the Messiah and the brotherhood they will enjoy with Gentile believers. To “raise a banner for the peoples” (v. 10) is to announce to the world that Messiah is coming to Jerusalem.
The Lord gives the people of the city new names: the Holy People, the Lord’s Redeemed, and Cared For. These names speak of Israel’s new character after the people’s hearts are turned back to God. Gentiles will be drawn there, and Jerusalem will be called A City Not Deserted (v. 12).
There are some interesting New Testament parallels to the words of the Lord Isaiah records in verse 11:
- “Say to Daughter Zion, Look, your salvation is coming.” John the Baptist is sent as the forerunner of Messiah, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Matt. 3:1-3). Jesus of Nazareth is a Jew who comes to the Jews and proclaims salvation first to them. He commissions His 12 disciples and sends them to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6). He tells a Gentile woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). And He tells the Samaritan woman at the well that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). While this does not exclude Gentiles from God’s redemptive work, it underscores God’s plan to bring salvation to the world through the Jews as God Himself becomes flesh in a Jewish Messiah (John 1:14).
- “His reward is with Him.” Jesus begins His earthly ministry by telling His disciples to rejoice when they’re persecuted because “your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:12). And the apostle John, foreseeing Christ’s return, records the words of Jesus, “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).
- “… and His recompense is before Him.” The New Testament clearly teaches the future resurrection and judgment of all people, resulting in punishment for unbelievers (Rev. 20:11-15) and rewards for believers (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15).
Warren Wiersbe writes: “God will have no rest till He accomplishes His purposes for His people, and the world will have no peace till He succeeds. He asks us to ‘give Him no rest’ (v. 7) but to intercede for Israel and Jerusalem, for the prayers of His people are an important part of the program of God” (Be Comforted, An Old Testament Study, S. Is 62:1).