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Home For Middle Easterners “LONGING FOR THE FUTURE” Isaiah 60:1-64:12 Text

“LONGING FOR THE FUTURE” Isaiah 60:1-64:12 Text

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“LONGING FOR THE FUTURE”          Isaiah 60:1 - 64:12                               


 David Calderwood 

Longing for the future is a basic part of life. Children long to become adults. Young people long to be married. The sick long to be healthy. The war ravaged long for peace.  The oppressed long for freedom.



Isaiah was no different. The five chapters before us this morning are his expression of longing for the future.



 But once again, we need to do a little revision so that we can appreciate his longing.



Isaiah 40:1-2 is the turning point. God’s special people were in exile in Babylon, but their time of punishment was over, and now Isaiah’s task was to bring comfort by telling God’s people that he still loved them, and intended to save and renew them



And as Isaiah looks into the future with his mind’s eye of faith, he grasps more and more clearly how God’s salvation and renewal would go far beyond just physically bringing them back home to the land of Israel.



God intended a spiritual deliverance from their sin: not only achieving forgiveness through the actions of the mysterious servant who comes into prominence, but also reformatting his people from the inside out so that they would be able to obey him and delight to obey him.



God intended to bring them home in a spiritual sense that far surpassed anything physical.

Their ultimate home would be Zion, God’s city and far, far better than Jerusalem ever was.



They would live in God’s Kingdom far, far bigger than national Israel ever was or would be.

And they would enjoy the truly good life, far better than the best they had ever enjoyed in the Land of Canaan, as The Garden Of Eden conditions were restored.  



Now, we can start to understand how strong the longings of Isaiah would be, and now we can explore these chapters to see something of his expression of longing for the future.



1. The ‘birth’ and ‘focus’ of deep longing for the future (Isaiah 60:1-22 )


Isaiah’s last section ended in real tension between Isaiah 59:1-15 , the unbelievably sad picture of people powerless to change and be anything other than rebels towards God,



and Isaiah 59:16-21 the wonderful picture of the Lord promising that he will come to his people, knowing they are stuck in sin and do for them what they could never do for themselves.


It is this reality that gives ‘birth’ and ‘focus’ to Isaiah’s longing. He longs for God’s promised recreation and renewal.



Look at verses 1- 2. Isaiah sees the future like a brilliant sunrise, the recreation of a new day after a pitch black night which is scary and disorientating and seems to go on forever.



The outworking of sin is thick darkness. In stark contrast, the outworking of God’s glory, which in part is his covenant promise, is to completely dispel the darkness with brilliant light. 



Look at verse 10. Isaiah sees the future in terms of complete renewal; a new city called Zion and a new community of God’s servants making up that city.



The outworking of sin or rebellion was being struck or smashed. And in stark contrast the outworking of God’s compassion and favour is amazing restoration and renewal.



So it is no wonder that Isaiah expresses such deep longing. He can’t wait for it all to happen. But Isaiah has some specific things he longs for in this overall recreation and renewal.



He longs for God’s rule or kingdom to be established with no rivals



Once again, verse 14, it is clear that Isaiah sees that Zion or the city of Jerusalem is central to God’s future salvation. But it is also clear that Zion is not the physical city of Jerusalem and the physical kingdom of Israel rebuilt after the exile.



The Zion Isaiah longs for here is far, far bigger and better. It is a spiritual reality - not a physical place, but a community of God’s saved people. Verses 19-20. Zion will have the Lord himself for light or revelation.



What Isaiah sees in the future is God’s kingdom as it was in the Garden Of Eden – God’s people, in God’s special place, living gladly under his rule and enjoying the truly good life. Hence verse 18, it is rightly described as the place of salvation and praise.



And God’s kingdom or Zion will be truly global in extent. Verse 3-5 Kings and nations will come to submit to God and acknowledge him as the rightful ruler of the world.   



Verses 6-11 many people from every corner of the earth will delight to be identified as God’s people and delight to live under God’s rule. People will constantly be joining. Not just for Jews but for people from every nation as God originally intended.



Verse 16, the Lord will be acknowledged as the true God and great king of the world.

Verse 11-12 it will be a place of security because all God’s enemies will perish and so no resistance will be possible.



He longs for the finality and permanence of God’s salvation renewal.



The chapter is heavily laced with wonderful ideas: everlasting pride and joy of the generations; everlasting light; no longer will violence be heard, v18; your days of sorrow will end, v20; peace will be your governor and righteousness your ruler forever; possess the land forever.



Isaiah cannot wait for the future to become reality because he longs to experience the perfect and permanent Garden of Eden conditions described here.



This is the deep-seated longing which is part of our human nature – the sense that we were made for something better than broken living in a broken world.



 Isaiah longs for the day he will be completely restored and recreated such that he will live as God created him to live. When the future comes, and, verse 20-21, come it will because God is committed to making it reality, it will be even more secure and safe than the Garden of Eden because it will never be lost again.   



2. And Isaiah sees great assurance for those longing for the future (61:1-9).



Sometimes the things we long for are just a dream that is never going to become reality. But this is not the case when it comes to God’s future salvation.



The last sentence in 60:22 sets up these verses. The guarantee of God’s future is once again in the identity and mission of God’s suffering servant, God’s messiah (1-4). Throughout Isaiah’s prophecy God has pointed to his Messiah, his saviour and king.



And God’s secret weapon in salvation and restoration of his people is now clear. Messiah and the suffering servant are the same person, anointed by God’s Sprit to do God’s work.



Verse 2, it is messiah, the suffering servant who will announce the year of God’s favour or salvation, thereby freeing and restoring God’s people caught hopelessly in the spiral of sin and judgment. 



Again, in one sense they would experience the reality of freedom and renewal on their return from exile, but the picture here goes far beyond that to a personal spiritual renewal from the inside out – attitudes and desires and status before the Lord.

And it is Messiah, the suffering servant who will announce the day of vengeance when those who refuse to bow to the Lord’s rule will be called to account and receive full justice.



But there is a second level of guarantee built into the future, and that is God’s total backing of the servant (4-9).



The servant goes quiet and the Lord now speaks, emphasising the complete reversal his people will experience. Verse 7. Instead of shame and missing out on inheritance, it will be honour with a double portion as the first born child.



The result of this reversal will be everlasting joy and inheritance, verse 7, and everlasting blessing from the Lord. But what are those blessings of the future?




3. The realisation of that longed for (61:10-64:12).



Once again Isaiah speaks and is full of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord because he realises that in a sense the future is already present with him. He is actually enjoying the very things that in the future will become complete and perfect.



He enjoys God’s salvation blessings now and anticipates far more in the future (61:10-12).  Turn back to Isaiah 6:7 . At the very beginning of his ministry the Lord had entered into Isaiah’s life and forgiven his sin and renewed him.



Now, verse 11, Isaiah anticipates that same blessing flowing to people around the world. Isaiah looks forward to the whole world being put right as he had been put right.



He loves physical Zion and anticipates spiritual Zion, being home with the Lord (62:1-12). 



Zion is central to God’s purpose. He will take his people home to Zion physically. But this is only a dull picture of what God has in mind ultimately for his people. In fact, verse 2, The spiritual Zion, God’s great kingdom will be so different to physical Jerusalem that it will require a new name.



It will be God’s place of special blessing and relationship. It will be a place, verse 4-5, where God’s people will be so totally renewed that God will delight in them and cherish and nourish them and relate to them as intimately as to a new bride. 



Verses 11-12, Zion ultimately will be defined and characterised by the community, not bricks and mortar. It will be an absolutely dazzling place because it is the place of God’s renewed people – now living obediently and gladly under God’s rule.



And all this will point to the sovereign grace of God who has made good on his promise to bring his sinful people home to be with him in heaven forever. And so, finally, the whole world will be focussed on the Lord as he deserves.



He hates people rebelling against the Lord and anticipates the day of vengeance (63:1-6)



It is a terrible picture. But it is a crucial aspect of the servant’s work in God’s future salvation. Look at verse 4. Redemption and vengeance are inseparably linked – two sides of one coin.



As the Lord shows his grace and mercy in saving a great number from sin and forming a great new kingdom or city or community who will declare his praises, so too he must show himself to be just and sovereign and destroy those who thought they could treat the lord with contempt.



Isaiah recognises this important connection and delights that the Lord will act to secure his proper honour, even though the picture of slaughter is so confronting to Isaiah.



He values God’s mercy and grace in the past and anticipates future grace (63:7-64:12.  



This last section is really a prayer of Isaiah. Look at 64:1 Why such pleading with the Lord to act? Because Isaiah knows that their past as well as their future is entirely down to God’s grace.



So, this section ends as the last section did, with Isaiah reflecting on the sinful past and ongoing sinful nature of God’s people. He knows God’s future salvation will only become reality as God’s gift, not as a result of their achievements or efforts.



Isaiah knows that sin is so real for God’s people that they are trapped in it and by it. Therefore Isaiah prays and pleads with the Lord to act as he has promised.



And that’s the essence of prayer. It is an expression of utter dependence upon God for salvation and the future. And that’s Isaiah’s prayer here. He thanks God for forgiveness for sin in the past and prays for ultimate forgiveness and restoration in the future.



He thanks the Lord for his unfailing love in the past which gave them a home and cared for them, and he pleads for even greater love and a better home in the future.  He daresto pray for nothing less than being home with God in Heaven.



Friends, we can easily identify with the deep longing of Isaiah, can’t we. We are much further down the track, much closer to the end point of God’s salvation than Isaiah was, but we still have the same longing.



Turn with me to Luke 4:16-20 . Jesus begun his ministry by stating to all that Isaiah’s longing for salvation and renewal was now reality in him. His suffering and death and resurrection would make real the year of the Lord’s favour.



And we can see easily the reality of this claim. A massive community of saved people has been gathered from across the nations. It is recognised across the world as those who delight to serve the lord. And often it is hated for the same reasons.



It is now true that we are in new relationship with the Lord as sons and daughters with a full share in the family inheritance – all God’s blessings.



We are being renewed daily by God’s spirit working within us, but we still long for this work of salvation to be completed and to be home in heaven with God and like him forever.



So, like Isaiah we should never tire of praise God for his grace and never fail to be seeking to live in the light of the blessings we currently enjoy by faith, and never fail to be praying that what the lord has begun in us he will bring to completion so that he might be honoured as he deserves.






Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 10:30  

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