In 1858 God poured out His Spirit in a revival, first in New York City and then throughout the United States. The revival affected people of all ages, races, and church denominations. During the next few years, churches grew and thousands of people trusted in Christ. It started at a prayer meeting attended by seven people.
Revival—what J. I. Packer calls “an extraordinary work of God the Holy Ghost”—usually begins in the church and then impacts unbelieving neighbors in the community. This is the pattern we see in Isaiah 62. The Lord’s first purpose is to make His people righteous (v. 1), beautiful (v. 3), and an object of His delight (v. 5). He promises that they will be nourished (v. 8), at peace (v. 8), and firmly established (v. 7).
Then, when God’s people are healthy and lovely, their reputation in the community grows. For us today, Isaiah’s hopeful imagery of a shining dawn and a blazing torch parallels Jesus’ similar encouragement: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt. 5:14). When the Lord revives His people, He also works in the hearts of unbelievers.
The promises in today’s passage are not simply beautiful ideals to be enjoyed; Isaiah’s words come to us with the imperative of action. On the strength of God’s promises, God’s people must persistently intercede for revival. We give God no rest and we take no rest for ourselves (vv. 6–7) because we are so sure that God delights to do the things He has said. With God’s encouragement, we become like the New Testament prophetess Anna who never left the place of prayer and fasting, but looked eagerly for the fulfillment of God’s promise (see Luke 2:37–38).