18Look up, look around, look well! See them all gathering, coming to you? As sure as I am the living God”—God’s Decree—“you’re going to put them on like so much jewelry, you’re going to use them to dress up like a bride.
Though verse 18 is a part of our printed lesson, it belongs to the previous paragraph, which begins with verse 14. It is a lament of Zion. Laments frequently call upon God to remember that, in the past, He has forgotten. The ancient Israelites were more prepared to make direct accusations against God that are most modern believers, especially in Christian tradition.
The charge of forgetfulness is indignantly denied by God in this verse. The command to lift your eyes and see is a command to raise/change our perspective. The change called for is not merely physical but is spiritual. It reminds us that our view of God and Gods involvement in human affairs is often distorted by our choosing to look at things from our perspective rather than Gods perspective.
The promise is clear: Those who once rejected and devastated Zion will embrace her and honor her. This is the promise of restoration.
19-21 “And your ruined land? Your devastated, decimated land? Filled with more people than you know what to do with! And your barbarian enemies, a fading memory. The children born in your exile will be saying, ‘It’s getting too crowded here. I need more room.’ And you’ll say to yourself, ‘Where on earth did these children come from? I lost every-thing, had nothing, was exiled and penniless. So who reared these children? How did these children get here?’”
Through the Prophet, the Lord declares His purpose in the this restoration—to bring Zion to wholeness. God’s sovereignty is declared and affirmed. The One who permitted the trouble to descend will be the One who lifts the trouble and restores the people to wholeness.
There is a more then physical habitation being described here. God is talking about the inhabitation of His Holy Spirit in the lives of His restored people. Just as God made provision for us physically, so He has done spiritually. He has given us the means for our spiritual provision and deliverance in the person of His own Spirit. Through Him, all our needs are provided.
22-23 The Master, God, says: “Look! I signal to the nations, I raise My flag to summon the people. Here they’ll come: women carrying your little boys in their arms, men carrying your little girls on their shoulders. Kings will be your babysitters, princesses will be your nursemaids. They’ll offer to do all your drudge work—scrub your floors, do your laundry.
You’ll know then that I am God. No one who hopes in Me ever regrets it.”
The restored Zion, which will come out from the hand of the oppressors, will experience unprecedented favor from God. They will be carried by the nations in their arms, and by the people on their shoulders. This and parallel passages (Isaiah 60:4; 66:20) refer to the return of the Jews to their own land by favor of the non-Jewish people, either when the decree of Cyrus went forth, or at some still future period.