Summary of passage: Isaiah says: Arise and shine for your light (the Redeemer) has come along with the glory of the Lord. Darkness covers the earth but the Lord shines over that with His glory. Nations and kings come to God’s light. All will assemble from afar. You will be radiant with joy. Wealth will be brought from far and wide. Camels will cover the land (prosperity). All from Sheba and Nebaioth will come, serve and praise the Lord. All offerings will be accepted. The temple will be adorned. Ships, including those of Tarshish, will bring your sons, silver, and gold to the honor of the Lord.
3a) The light is the Redeemer (from Isaiah 59:20) or can also be the Lord as He rises upon us and His glory appears over us. It has come to Israel, the peoples, Nations, kings–come for all.
b) Isaiah 59:9-10: Deep shadows where we grope along the wall and feel our way without eyes. We stumble as if it were twilight and we are like the dead.
4a) Nations and kings will come. All will assemble including your sons and daughters from afar. You will be radiant. All the wealth on the seas will be brought and all the wealth of the nations. Camels will cover the land (a sign of prosperity) and all from Sheba will bring gold and praise (all nations will praise the Lord and bring gifts). All offerings will be accepted.
b) Personal Question. My answer: I came back to church after college when I had my first daughter. It was time. I wanted her to know Jesus. Recently, my friend who is a missionary has led by example as I watched her consult the Lord in every decision, listen, and obey unquestioningly. She has been an example I can only hope to one day replicate.
Conclusions: This passage has a lot of geographical references.
According to my Bible Atlas (Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G Rasmussen), Midian was a descendant of Abraham and Keturah and the ancestor of an Arabian tribe that bore his name. Midian is mentioned 57 times in the OT. They were a nomadic people but believed to have its center in NW Arabia.
Midian was also a part of Sheba: http://bibleatlas.org/full/midian.htm
Ephah is believed to be a separate tribe of Sheba like Midian but is unknown exactly where it was located:
Sheba was on the Arabian peninsula now Yemen: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/sheba.htm
According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C Tenney, the camels mentioned carried trade goods from Sheba northward to the Mediterranean countries. Sheba was very wealthy through the control of the trade in perfumes and incense. The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12), riding a camel as well bearing just such gifts.
Kedar is another name for Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/kedar.htm
According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Kedar is mentioned numerous times in the Bible (Isaiah mentions it in: Isaiah 21:17, Isaiah 42:11). Kedar also had great wealth and Zondervan infers due to the number of references in the Bible that Kedar must have been well-known to the Israelites from 1000-500 BC. Kedar was also one of the distant lands.
Nebaioth is in Northern Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/full/nebaioth.htm
According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Tarshish’s location is debated but many scholars place it in Spain. It is mentioned many times in reference to ships and ports but it was a very distant place as well. It was on a ship headed to Tarshish that Jonah sought to flee from the Lord (Jonah 1:3; 4:2).
Map of Tarshish: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/tarshish.htm
We must remember the New World had not been discovered yet. The people’s knowledge of the world was limited so these places represented the far reaches of the known world.
Camels were the people’s primary mode of transportation in Isaiah’s time (still are in parts of the Middle East). Having many camels could be akin to having many cars today: a sign of wealth and a means of their livelihood.
End Note: It is fascinating to see how these locations crop up in the Bible. I love Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney which gives Bible references and lists all the places these locations are in the Bible.
I would have never remembered the ship Jonah boarded was headed to Tarshish. Knowing Tarshish’s estimated location really cements in my mind how much Jonah wanted to “escape” from God (not that he could escape from God). Jonah wanted to go to the far ends of the Earth, the edge of the known world–that’s how bad he didn’t want to go to Ninevah. Ninevah must have been a really, really bad place! I cannot recommend this Dictionary enough.
What does this have to do with Isaiah? Nothing. And that’s why I love BSF. It leads you to discover things you otherwise never would have.