Jerusalem Receives the Nations
“Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession” (Isa. 60:11).- Isaiah 60:10-14
From the very beginning, the Lord has been concerned for the nations, placing Israel in the middle of them all as witnesses to His grace and goodness (Gen. 10; Isa. 42:6). This family of Israel, the seed of Abraham, was never to be the only object of God’s love; rather, it would be through Abraham and his descendants that divine blessing would be brought to the whole world (Gen. 12:1–3).
As a whole, Israel did not fulfill its calling under the old covenant to be an agent of blessing for the Gentiles. Instead of shining as the light of the world, thus drawing all nations to the true God, Israel became as dark as the pagans around them, and the Lord used these pagans as instruments to discipline His people (2 Kings 19:20–26). But their covenant Lord did not abandon His purpose to set Israel above the nations as a shining city on a hill. Following discipline, Israel was promised a glorious restoration, as indicated in today’s passage.
What is remarkable about Isaiah’s prophecy in 60:10–14 is that the nations are included in this restoration. These verses describe the rebuilding of the earthly city of Jerusalem in the era of restoration — the age of the new covenant. Yet it is difficult to know how we are to interpret the imagery. The prophets often used figurative language, relying on images familiar to them in order to describe the future realities revealed by God. Since Jerusalem is used elsewhere in Scripture as a metaphor for the people of God (Rev. 19:6–9a; 21:1–2), we can at least say that while Isaiah’s description in 60:10–14 may include a literal rebuilding of the City of David, it also points to something far greater.
That something Isaiah foresaw was the building of Christ’s church as a kingdom including Jew and Gentile. The people of other nations and their rulers come into the Holy City to rebuild Jerusalem and minister to it (vv. 10–11), but we are not to think of this as some kind of menial service. Good citizenship includes appropriate service to a person’s home country, and this is precisely the service rendered in this passage. Here is a hint that those who would otherwise be foreigners will actually be fellowcitizens with faithful Israelites in the city of the Lord — the restored kingdom of people who bow to the Davidic king as their sovereign (vv. 12–14).
The incredible contribution of Gentiles to the building and restoration of the church of God demonstrates the accuracy of Isaiah’s passage. Since the first coming of Christ, Gentiles have been streaming into the Lord’s Holy City, using their gifts and talents to edify God’s people, systematize doctrine, and perform loving service to both church and world. As we use our gifts in the body of Christ, Isaiah’s prophecy continues to come true.
Passages for Further Study