Saturday, December 30, 2006

Exposition of Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3, post 3


For the preceding posts on this Sunday's reading, click here and here.
To read some good preaching notes on this text by OT scholar Dr. Ralph W. Klein, click here (PDF file).

The passage is from the third part of Isaiah's book, chs. 56 - 66, which address the eschatological fulfillment of the book's promises. These chapters picture the rise and witness of a new eschatological community of servant people of God. They are spawned by the work of the Suffering Servant of the book's second section, chs. 40 - 55.

The voice singing out the psalm of thanksgiving in vv. 10-11 is a representative of God's new servant community, one of those who currently mourn the contemporary state of affairs in Zion (61:3). At the Epiphany of God on earth, there will be much for the servants to be thankful for, including God's robing of them with "salvation" and "righteousness." The terms are parallel in 61:10; God's salvation entails not merely political vindication but a radical change in our very character as human beings. We are born anew in conformity to God's will and nature, given a new name denoting the change (62:4).

A new voice seems to speak in 62:1-3, the voice of one of God's watchkeepers / sentinels on Jerusalem's walls, who never keep silent, who constantly remind God of God's promises (62:6). The chief watchkeeper, of course, is the literary persona of the Isaiah himself. We may consider the literary figure of Isaiah, the "voice" behind the whole book, to be addressing us here.

Isaiah's message in 62:1-3 is a proclamation of our witness and mission. Here is an excerpt from Klein's notes:

Nations and kings — shades of Epiphany! — will see our righteousness and our glory.... It is not that the nations see our good
works and glorify God although elsewhere that too has its place (Matthew 5:16). What the movers and shakers (the kings and the nations) see is the transforming outcome of God's faithfulness in our lives. We are the best PR for God. Our glory is derivative and our salvation a gift. The nations will want to know where we got such
a gift, and so give us the chance to tell them.

2 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Stephen,

Very helpful commentary. I hope you and yours are well!

Blessings, John Rule (VTS '05)

Mon Jan 11, 02:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Great to hear from you, John!
---S.

Mon Jan 11, 03:40:00 PM GMT-5  

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