Isaiah 62: What's in a Name?
Updated: Jan 20
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.
To enter into the beauty of Isaiah 62, we first have to determine, who is “I”?
It could be Isaiah. That’s why he’s in Judah, after all: to stand before God and cry out on behalf of His people. That’s what a prophetic intercessor does. So, in verse 1, Isaiah could be telling the people he’s talking to: “I’m not going to quit my job until this job is done,” but you and I both know the job Isaiah was given wasn’t done until long after Isaiah was gone. It still isn’t.
So who else? Any other prophetic intercessors come to mind? Bingo. This is another song of the Anointed One. This is the Son of God, singing out from the heavens before he was ever named Jesus. Once the identity of the “I” is settled, this becomes one of the greatest love songs of all time.
In this verse, the Anointed One appears in two key roles as the Messiah: the Intercessor speaking up on Zion’s behalf and the Prophet declaring what’s going to happen before this whole thing—the whole history of man on the earth—is complete.
The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
On his beloved’s behalf, he will continue to speak before the throne of God until she is vindicated—cleared of all blame—and justified—made righteous. Her salvation—all that God has done to save her and all that she has become—will be a bright, shining beacon to the nations looking on.
And they—the nations—will know her by a new name.
By this time, Israel had probably been called a lot of things. She wasn’t well-liked by her neighbors. Since the days of King David, she’d shown no real military strength. The split with Israel couldn’t have been good for her reputation. Her crazy kings provided great entertainment for the surrounding nations but hadn’t earned her much respect. “Invaders.” “Weaklings.” “Losers.” “Loony.”
God had Abraham’s descendants multiply and fill up that little strip of land along the Mediterranean for the glory of His name, but here she was, “Deserted.” It appeared that God had left her. “Desolate.” And the really disheartening thing? These names were given to her by God.
But a name change is imminent.
In Bible times, a name had great significance. It wasn’t just a collection of letters that sounded nice to the new mother: Shania. Mariah. Beyoncé. Or the name of an admired relative: William. Henry. Harrison. No; in ancient Israel, people were given names as an indicator of who they were or who they were expected to be. In some cases, the name was given by a parent. Samuel: God has heard. Issachar: reward. Esau: hairy. (Seriously?) Other times, the name was given at the direction of God (e.g., Isaac, John, and Jesus). And in some cases, a person’s name was changed when God changed who they were.
Abram—“exalted father”—became Abraham— “father of many.”
Sarai—”my princess”—became Sarah—“mother of nations.”
Jacob—“deceiver”—became Israel—“struggles with God.”
Now God is going to change Israel’s name from what she had become—desolate and deserted—to what He intended her to be: Hephzibah—“my delight is in her” and Beulah—now “married.”
In the midst of the changing of the names I jumped ahead, so let’s go back to verse 3—the “why” of the name change.
When a king takes the throne a beautiful crown—a royal diadem—is placed on his head. At that point, there is no question who is (or is supposed to be) in charge. But that’s not what verse 5 says about this beautiful crown. Zion does not wear it; Zion is it:
a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Notice, this crown is not on her head but in His hand. No longer desolate or deserted, she is God’s great delight, in covenant with Him. She is a crown of splendor; she is the royal diadem.
On to verses 6 and 7. Since we settled the “I” question back in verse 1, we know this is the Anointed One speaking, and he says:
I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.
He is “I,” but who are the watchmen? Isaiah and Jeremiah and the like—prophetic intercessors throughout history—were put in a position to see as God sees and to take up man’s role in bringing God’s promises to pass.
To those out there who have been sleeping, I hate to break the news. The Anointed One wants you posted there too (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 6:9). We are watchmen waiting expectantly for what Yahweh said He will do. Now, waiting expectantly does not mean whining incessantly. It’s taking the words the Anointed One has said (things like verses 3-5) and speaking them with confidence just because He says it will be so. When you hear threats of Israel’s certain destruction, you say, “No, she belongs to the Lord.” When you hear someone predicting the humiliation of His church, you say, “No, she is a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.” Watchmen are guardians of the promises of God. Cool.
But if God knows what He wants to do, and the Anointed One has already declared he’s going to do it, what is the point of prayer?
Prayer is our response to God’s invitation to invest our hearts in His promises. He lets us be His partners in an undertaking that is sure to succeed. So why not? Who wouldn’t? Right?
Well, just so you know, that invitation is more easily accepted than attended to. Here’s the job description:
Give yourself no rest. Don’t give up; don’t give in; don’t forget. Be like Paul, who prayed without ceasing. Could that possibly be possible? I must be; I don’t think Paul was the lying kind.
My idea of ceaseless prayer is this: the ceaseless sense that God is with me, listening, and that really, truly, I’m listening too, ready to hear what He says. When He speaks it, I say it. Simple.
Then, give Him no rest. When you hear what He says, say it and keep on saying it back. Ask and keep on asking. Knock and keep on knocking. Whether reading His word or hearing His voice, let Him know you’ve heard Him. Say “God, I agree. Let this earth—this place where I stand—be just like it is in heaven.”
The culmination of the Anointed One’s prayer will be Jerusalem established and made the praise of the earth. The outcome definitely, doubtlessly assured because:
The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm (verse 8a-b). Because of the authority of His right hand and the power of His mighty arm, the curse of Deuteronomy 28:33—“A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days—is reversed and his beloved Zion will know blessing:
“Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies, and never again will foreigners drink the new wine for which you have toiled;
but those who harvest it will eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” (verses 8c-9)
The outcome of her blessing will be more than a slaked thirst and a full stomach. It will be a crowd of happy people singing in the place where God lives.
So that’s where the Anointed One ends his song, but the chapter isn’t done. The Lord Himself steps in and gives instructions to Zion to ramp up for the celebration.
Pass through, pass through the gates! (verse 10a)
Come into the place of your rest, and get ready for the flood:
Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. (verse 10b-e)
In Israel’s history, banners were used to identify the tribes and mark out their camps. Dan, Asher, and Naphtali on the north side, Gad, Simeon, and Reuben on the south, Benjamin, Manasseh, and Ephraim in the west, and Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun in the east. Each held up their banner, whether in camp or on the battlefield. Yet as far as I can tell, there will be just one banner here. All under one Head and all with the same name: Hephzibah—my delight is in her, and all in the same land: Beulah—married—in covenant with God.
Had Isaiah never included verse 11 in chapter 62, this week’s study would have been almost a piece of cake. I don’t know what Bible translation you use, but my default—the NIV—makes it a little difficult.
The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth, The word translated “proclamation” here and the word “proclamation” we looked at in Isaiah 61:1 are two different Hebrew words. In the last chapter, the Anointed One was proclaiming something he had already achieved. In this verse, the Lord is declaring something still on the way.
I get that. The work of salvation is already done; the fullness of salvation is yet to be seen.
“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes!” It seems the NIV, as well as some other translations, didn’t get this quite right either. The word “Savior” (the person) should be “salvation” (his work). I get that. See above.
But these next lines?
See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’”
Commentators were gathered under different banners on this one. Some said he (the Savior who supposedly wasn’t present in the line above) has a reward to give his people; some said his reward is his people. Some said his recompense is those he paid for; some said it’s the reward he gives those who are on his side.
I don’t know. I just don’t know. So rather than spending any more time checking what anyone else thinks, I’m thinking this: it can be whatever He wants it to be, and whatever it is, it’s good. Let’s just get back to my favorite verse—another verse about names:
They—the nations—will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you—Zion—will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.
the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Come, Lord Jesus.