In First Isaiah, God promised that "the people who walked in darkness" would see a great light with the birth of a new king of peace (9:2-7). In Second Isaiah, God announced that Israel would be a "light to the nations" (49:6). Now, in this text of Third Isaiah, the "light has come," and all nations will be attracted to "the brightness of your dawn."
The coming of the nations to the light of God and Israel is a theme of the Zion tradition used throughout this book (see Theological Themes). God acts to redeem God's chosen people, but also to attract the nations who come to see the amazing work that God is doing. In this text, the nations come to return the children of Israel who had been taken into exile.
The nations and kings come and pour out their wealth before God, even entering into the worship of God. The gifts of gold and frankincense serve to foreshadow the gifts brought by the magi, also attracted by the light, to pay homage to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:10-11).
60Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,*
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you,
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall be acceptable on my altar,
and I will glorify my glorious house.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org