Isaiah 60 portrays God’s future kindness to Israel by promising to fill the earth with true light and drawing the nations and many kings of earth into the Lord’s kingdom. We know that a few of the promises of Isaiah 60 haven’t yet come to pass (see Isaiah 60:11,18-19 and Revelation 21:22-27). Though we await the day when, as God’s people, we will live in our world where our “sun will never set again” (Isaiah 60:20), some of Isaiah’s prophecy has already found partial fulfillment.
Consider the beginning of Isaiah 61 and how Jesus, years later, would speak Isaiah’s words to demonstrate the manifestation of the “year of the Lord’s favor” (see Isaiah 61-1-3, Luke 4:16-19). Jesus’s ministry brings good news to the poor in healing and rescue. Jesus also in bears on the cross the shame and ridicule in solidarity with of all the world’s poor. Jesus has come to ensure that the “brokenhearted” will be made into “oaks of righteousness” through faith (Isaiah 61:1,3, see Matthew 5:1-11).
When we read Isaiah, it is essential to read his promises in view of Jesus’s unveiling of His true identity. In Jesus, Isaiah is either already proven true or will be proven true, and the differences aren’t always hard to sort out. For example, Jesus’s work fulfilled the promise in Isaiah that “you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:6). Only Levites could be priests to God in Isaiah’s day, but in our day, Jesus has “set the oppressed free” and made them into a “royal priesthood” for God (1 Peter 2:9), to the praises of God’s glorious grace in Christ Jesus.