25 September 2012Isaiah 62:1-7
“You who remind the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth.” (vv. 6-7)
This passage represents the third time in these latter chapters of Isaiah where the anointed one (Isaiah 61:1) or Messiah speaks for himself; the passage begins in 61:10 where he claims to be clothed with salvation and righteousness. Clothes express character, equip us, and may express commitment to a cause. In this poem the cause is God's, and the task for which the anointed one is equipped is that of bringing fullness of joy to Jerusalem, also called Zion, particularly in contexts where the city is being envisaged as a spiritual community and not just a geographical location.
As God's agent, the Messiah will "not keep silent" (v. 1); as the parallel term "will not rest" implies, the commitment is to actions and not just words. At the end of the passage there is a similar call to sentinels or guardians who are posted to keep watch over the city. Their actions are those of prayer, and verses 6-7 are a lovely description of the task of prayer as one of reminding God and refusing to give God peace until the job which we and God long to see accomplished is completed. In the stories around the birth of Jesus, we encounter two such prayer-guardians in the persons of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38).
The image of a saved Jerusalem being like a burning torch drawing the nations (verse 1) is a vivid one at the moment for the millions in Britain this summer who witnessed the journey of the Olympic torch before the nations were drawn to these shores. It is a frequent theme in Isaiah that a spiritually-restored Jerusalem, following the exile, will be a beacon or magnet drawing the rulers of the world and their nations, to discover true life and joy.
Jerusalem is promised a new name, signifying a new nature, as God's delight which he protects (and so in verse 3 she is like a crown held safely in God's hand), and as God's bride whom (as bridegroom) God will love and cherish.
- Jerusalem was seen as an important visual symbol of God's salvation throughout biblical times. Which places today have spiritual significance for you or for other people? What accounts for this?
- Surely God is not forgetful; so why do you think that God needs to be "reminded" (v. 6)?
- Can prayer for spiritual good things be combined with prayer for national and political life? If so, how should we pray?