Septuagint Isaiah 60:1-Discipline and Glory: Devotional 2.78

Septuagint Isaiah 60:1–Discipline and Glory Combine

Isaiah the prophet writes:

Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Septuagint Isaiah 60:1 NETS)

(φωτίζου φωτίζου Ιερουσαλημ [fo-TEE-zoo fo-TEE-zoo Ee-er-oo-sa-leem]) 

Readers often consider this important question: when do the events in Isaiah’s prophesy occur?

Isaiah’s Context

Isaiah’s poetic command, “Shine, shine, O Jerusalem” is fourth in a series that stretches all the way back to Septuagint Isaiah 51:9.

Awake, awake, O Jerusalem, and put on the strength of your arm; awake as in the early time, as the ancient generation. (Septuagint Isaiah 51:9

Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, that have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury: for you have drunk out and drained the cup of calamity, the cup of wrath… (Septuagint Isaiah 51:17)

Awake, awake, Sion; put on your strength, O Sion; and o you put on your glory, Jerusalem the holy city… (Septuagint Isaiah 52:1)

Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Septuagint Isaiah 60:1 NETS)

Isaiah’s purpose throughout all these chapters is to comfort his people, whom he calls Sion and Jerusalem, with the sure knowledge that he will soon send his very own Servant to “do it for them.” Their own failed labors will soon cease, as they focus their eyes upon the Servant (see Septuagint Isaiah 52:13-53:12). He will obey their God in ways they never could. This is good news for a weary people. This is why the fourth direct command of Isaiah to Jerusalem is a peal and shout of gladness–Shine! Shine! for your light has come.

The New Testament picks up on Isaiah’s them of light.

John 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

1 John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (ESV)

Discipline and Glory Combine

New Testament writers apply Septuagint Isaiah 60:1 to the incarnation of God’s Servant Jesus Christ. In the life of God’s Servant, we see discipline and glory combined. To emphasize the one and ignore the other is to misread Scripture (1). God’s harshest discipline is at one and the same time his greatest glory. This refers, of course, to the unfathomable “tough love” God displays when he pours his wrath upon the Son of his love (Colossians 1:13) (2), nailed upon the cross. We will consider several Scriptural supports for these statements one at a time.

I. Handel’s Messiah: Discipline and Glory Combine

Handel finished his symphony in 1741. Its music and lyrics ring down through the centuries. Thousands of Christians listen to these lyrics every year. The church as a whole receives and approves Handel’s gospel message. Handel’s lyrics, as reproduced below, clearly proclaim the gospel of Israel’s Servant/Messiah in his incarnation. Notice how Handel combines verses from Isaiah and Malachi. While Malachi focuses on the discipline of the Servant’s appearing, Isaiah focuses on the glory (1).

Notice in Handel’s lyrics that “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple.” God’s Servant/Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to his temple multiple times during the ministry which the four gospel accounts record. He went there to teach (Mark 12:35; John 8:20; 18:20), to heal (Matthew 21:14), to cleanse (John 2:14-17) and to prophesy (Mark 13:1-2). But by far, the “com[ing] to His temple” which attracted the greatest attention was his grand entrance on what we call Palm Sunday, barely a week before his crucifixion (Matthew 21:5-15).

Next, the “messenger of the covenant” refers to the Servant, not John the Baptist. John the Baptist in Malachi 3:1 is the messenger who surveys the way before the Lord.  But right after that, “the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come…even the angel [messenger in Greek] of the covenant.”

Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom you take pleasure in: behold, he is coming, says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:1)

What covenant is this? This is the covenant which Isaiah presents in Isaiah 59:21, immediately before he commands Jerusalem to “Shine! Shine! for your light is come!” (See Isaiah Devotional Journal 2.77.) It is the New Covenant, the subject of the New Testament in Scripture.

But also notice that this divine messenger of the covenant “shall purify the sons of Levi.” The lyrics do not say, “shall purify the sons of the nations” (3). This Jesus did repeatedly as he answered the challenges to him by the religious ruling elite. He, in turn, challenged and corrected them (Matthew 9:3-7; 12:38-39; 15:1-9; 16:21; Matthew 22:2-34; et al.)

Every Scripture that Handel joins together in such a coherent and flowing whole applies to God’s Servant/Messiah/Christ in his incarnation, the incarnation that the four gospels of the New Testament describe. Here are the lyrics Handel writes.

Handel’s Messiah Lyrics

Tenor Recitative—Isaiah 40:1-3 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness; Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Tenor Air—Isaiah 40:4 Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

Chorus—Isaiah 40:5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Bass Recitative—Haggai 2:6-7; Malachi 3:1 Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: Yet once, a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come.

The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Alto Air—Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.

Chorus—Malachi 3:3 And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Alto Recitative—Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.

Alto Air and Chorus—Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 60:1 O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain. O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.


II. The Apostle Paul

The apostle Paul writes a composite quotation from Isaiah in a context suitable to Malachi. The quotation follows.

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14 ESV)

The context of Paul’s quotation from Isaiah, situated in the center of Ephesians 5, is a context of discipline. The discipline extends from verse 3 through verse 18. Here Paul explains how believers in Christ should and should not behave. The thrust of Paul’s argument is that Christ is light and believers therefore should not commit the actions of darkness, but the actions of light.

III. The Gospel of Luke

The gospel of Luke gives a full interpretation of Septuagint Isaiah 60:1. Zechariah, who is prophet, priest, and father, speaks these words at the circumcision of his son, John the Baptist.

Luke 1:76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (ESV)

1 “God’s glory, rather than His discipline, will rise as the sun upon her. Like a city gleaming in the light of the risen sun, Israel will shine with a glory that is not her own” (Isaiah 60 – Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes – Bible Commentaries – Dr Constable places the timeframe of this chapter far into the as yet unfulfilled future. The notes of at least one popular study Bible do the same. But neither the text of Isaiah himself nor the witness of New Testament writers provide warrant for this claim. In simple language, Isaiah 60:1 is not “millennial.” Rather, in line with all of Isaiah to this point, this verse rejoices in the astounding, amazing, spectacular, and mysterious incarnation of God himself.

2 “τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ” (The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition, copyright © 2010 Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software).

3 To my knowledge, the “millennial” portrait doesn’t include the Servant’s purifying the “sons of Levi.”

chapter 60 to be continued

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