No O.T. Scripture makes known to us the Lord's coming to the air for His saints; it is a N. T. revelation and not the subject of prophecy. The Church of God has a heavenly destiny and came into being consequently on Christ's ascension, so it is not to be expected that this hope which may be realised at any moment would be revealed until after the assembly was formed to receive it. A little band of faithful followers were the last to see the Lord leave this earth; those who will see and join Him at His return to the air are Christ's own people (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Unlike the coming of Christ to the air, His return to set up an earthly kingdom fills largely the O.T. prophecies. The latter event, however, takes place some time after the former. Isaiah in striking language gives details in our chapter of God's order of blessing and future well-being for Israel and the nations. The inspired writer's description of this order contrasts sharply with the final condition to which our boasted civilisation and modernism advance. Between the two events referred to at the beginning of this paper the former part of v. 2 "For behold the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people" is what will characterise Christendom. Whatever order leaders in our day propose for the future, "New Birth" must be the starting point if permanent blessing is to be the result: "darkness" here does not mean irreligious or uneducated, but ignorant of the true God and His purposes. The new era according to God's plan assumes a certain order for Christ's appearing to establish His kingdom, takes precedence, and Jewish restoration is vitally connected with it. The Lord will "shine" upon Israel and repentant and fully judging past sins they will receive the Messiah Who as the Deliverer brings them again into divine favour, for "thy sons shall come from far" v.4, i.e., the twelve tribes uniting in Zion at Jehovah's side. In this "order" God decrees Jerusalem to be the world's centre, neither the Stock Exchange nor Wall Street will be the pulse of the world's values; for the wealth of the nations flow eastward and all join together to "glorify the house of Thy glory." The good things of that day extend to others, for through Israel testimony reaches the Gentiles and "times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord"; they also form part of the divine purpose. Paul in his great dispensational discourse (Romans 11:12) declares if the temporary fall of Israel means present blessing for Gentiles "how much more their fulness." Israel reinstated will be the channel of blessing to all peoples. If lasting blessing be entered upon by men or nations, irrespective of dispensation, light is the first requisite — this light is Christ, Who is the world's hope. As in patriarchal days, God's promises are here made good and all nations "together" share in the common desire "to beautify" the place of His presence.
It could be said that from 70 A.D. to the present time as in v. 10 "in my wrath I smote thee": but "favour" rests so markedly upon Israel restored that it is added "the sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee." These nations that caused God's chosen people so much suffering in the past shall then call them blessed. Readers of Isaiah's day would think it strange indeed to speak of the city "gates open continually"; safety for them meant the gate was closed by night! However, the subjects of this kingdom are not only blessed but have embraced the principles laid down by the King in Matt. 7, i.e., they reflect His character. "Thy people also shall be all righteous" and "violence shall no more be heard in Thy land" (v. 21). Blessed indeed are the peacemakers! Their office-bearers too are messengers of peace and righteousness and far beyond Israel's shores are borne the beneficent results of Christ's reign. It was doubtless reports of this nature which set the Queen of Sheba on her worthwhile journey to Jerusalem centuries before. The titles of v. 16 invite special attention. They convey no ordinary meaning! First of all blessings rightly appreciated lead to the Blesser, so the people of God find their highest joy in what He is in Himself. Lord is Jehovah in covenant-keeping relationship; Saviour most comprehensive in its meaning; Redeemer what He has done, and Mighty one of Jacob, tells that He knew the kind of people He was transforming. "For brass I will bring gold," etc., there will be no comparison between the return and the expenditure! To-day under man's administration the necessities of life are afflicted, e.g., margarine for butter. If earth derives all blessing and prosperity from the "sun" the glories and prosperity emanating from the Light of Israel transcend all joys. "The days of thy mourning" end in joy.