Isaiah 60:22. “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.”
Exegesis and Application
There are several key phrases in this short verse that bear inspection:
1) “the least of you,” “the smallest”
2) “become a thousand,” “a might nation”
3) “in its/her time”
4) “I will do it swiftly”
The phrases “the least of you” and “the smallest” refer to the individual Israelite. In the Hebrew is could be read “the little one.” The phrase “become a thousand” and “a might nation” refers not to the military strength but to the number of descendents which, in turn, will be able to work God’s will for the entire nation (cf. Is. 9:7, “of the increase of His government there will be no end”; Micah 4:7, ”I will make the lame a remnant”). This is a return to the repeated Abrahamic promise in Genesis that his descendents will be numerous like stars and sand particles (Gen. 12:2; 13:15-16; 15:5; 16:10; 22:17). The influence of the Church will be out of proportion to her size and must take encouragement from that fact. In Zech. 4:10 the prophet tells the Israelites not to “despise (e.g., scorn, reject, treat with contempt) the day of small things” (cf, Haggai 2:3-4). This is also a Pauline theme in the New Testament (1 Cor. 1:26-31).
The phrase “in its time” refers to the proper moment in history or “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4). Calvin notes the Hebrew could be translated “her” and thus refers to the Church and is a direct reference to history; when the Church is ready her Lord and Savior (“I am Yahweh”) will complete His work. (Delitzsch claims the pronoun is neutral.)
The phrase “I will do it swiftly” refers to a biblical historiography in which God is sovereign over the affairs of humankind and when He chooses He will move quickly and decisively. He will act when we are not expecting it. So be prepared. What a wonderful promise backed up by the integrity of the God of creation – “I will do it.”
The desired comfort of this verse is echoed in other Isaiah passages relating to the faithful “remnant”: Is. 51:21-52:3; 54-55. As Gary Smith notes, “This assurance to every believer is an encouragement to faithfully persevere each day, but it also provides hope that soon God will come for his righteous people and end the misery that is associated with this sinful world.” John Oswalt adds that if we patiently persevere, “the nations will continue to come streaming to him as they have for two thousand years.”
Christian journalist, you will be in the minority of reporters if you go into the mainstream newsrooms. You will feel like you are in hostile territory and your worldview (hopefully) will be besieged by your colleagues. However, this is what you are to expect and you are not to be downtrodden. The LORD has sent you into a particular place to be his representative and if you stay the course, many will follow and become an army for the truth. Zechariah tells the Israelites not to despise the small assignments and little victories for out of those little things will come big things. Haggai tells the Israelites to “be strong for I am with you” in their minority status.