Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cocoa
Today’s Passage: Isaiah 60
When in doubt, start with a summary: you gotta know what the chapter says before you can figure out what it means. This chapter is about God restoring Israel’s fortunes. Remember the last chapter of historical narrative we read, Isaiah 39, where Hezekiah showed the Babylonians all his wealth and Isaiah prophesied that Babylon was gonna come in and take it all? God’s prophetic message in chapter 60 is that there will come a day when Israel will have neat stuff again. Camels and gold and the respect of the nations: in time it’s all coming back.
I could do a more detailed rundown of the verses prophesying material wealth (e.g. vv.5-7, 17) and international fame (e.g. vv.3, 12, 14) for Israel, or talk about how the material wealth will come as a gift from foreign nations. But instead, let’s cut to the chase: has this prophecy been fulfilled? Has this come to pass?
Well, I was gonna say: signs point to NOPE. I googled commentaries, and time and time again commentators interpreted it as a future that has not yet come to pass. Matthew Henry unsurprisingly takes it as a covenant made to the Church, as do MacLaren’s Expositions, and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s commentary simply states, “The language is too glorious to apply to anything that as yet has happened.” But then I found Dennis Bratcher’s commentary, which suggests that the prophecy found fulfilment in the book of Ezra. Take a look at what he has to say:
After a long struggle and severe opposition from surrounding peoples, the returned exiles finally won support from the Persian king Artaxerxes (it is not clear whether this was Artaxerxes I, 464-423 BC, or Artaxerxes II, 404-358; the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that record these events are not in chronological sequence). He commissioned Ezra the scribe to return to Jerusalem to secure the welfare of the city (note vv. 10-11). Artaxerxes funded Ezra’s mission and ordered the provincial treasurers to provide Ezra whatever he needed. (Ezra 7; Isaiah 60:5-7). Specifically mentioned is the intention to “beautify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem” (Ezra 7:27; note Isaiah 60:13).
In short, I find Bratcher’s thesis both tenable and satisfying.