Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord . All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple. “Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. – Isaiah 60:4-9
Today was a tumultuous day of tests, tasks, and teaching. I am coming up for air tonight as I ponder this passage and the meaning it holds. God begins the passage talking with the people of Israel and specifically the people of Jerusalem. The people in the City of David are to lift up their eyes and look about them. What does God want them to see? I assume He wants them to see and appreciate the well-watered garden He has provided.
“The wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.” This statement could be take a couple of ways. The literal interpretation would be that goods and trade will come via ships to dock in Israel and trade with the people of Jerusalem. This was certainly the case during the time of Solomon when He created all sorts of trade with far flung nations (1 Kings 9:26-28).
If one thinks of this statement metaphorically the “wealth of the seas” could be thought of as the “islands” that God attracts to himself, people who are attracted to God, His people, and the land where they live. The riches of the nations would actually be the human “capital”, the scraps of cloth that God assembles into a beautiful new quilt of many colors.
Then the passage take a somewhat confusing bend when it says “Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests?” It is unclear to me who is meant by “these” in the passage. Whoever it is they “fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests”.
Hasn’t everyone dreamed of flying at least one time in their lives? I know I have many times. The idea of moving effortlessly through the air is somehow the epitome of freedom. If we take for a moment that the people flying signify those with freedom then the second part of the above statement suggests that the freedom is used to “return to the nest” rather than soar aimlessly along.
This idea is somewhat confirmed by the statement “Surely the islands look to me”. Islands have been used metaphorically in the past to refer to rebellious and independent people, i.e. all of us at times. So God is saying that we all have this freedom to choose (flying), and we can choose to fly around aimlessly or we can choose to return to Him (the nest) who taught us how to fly in the first place. We are to fly like clouds, like God in fact, the godly condensate, but we are supposed to have a destination in mind.
Prayer: God you teach us how to fly and give us the freedom to do so. Help us to use this freedom wisely to fly toward You.