What is the meaning of the expression, in Isaiah 52:8, “They shall see eye to eye”?
This is an interesting passage. The complete text says, “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” Isaiah 52:8.
This Scripture is commonly understood to mean that “when the Lord shall bring again Zion,” the “watchmen” will be in complete agreement upon all the various doctrines, which have divided them throughout the centuries. Believing further that the time for the Lord to bring again Zion has come, many brethren are at a loss to understand why the predicted harmony of viewpoint fails to manifest itself.
Today, it is still true that to him who reads the Book of Isaiah, the paramount question is that propounded by Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch: “Understandest thou what thou readest?” Acts 8:30. Let us see if we can understand what Isaiah 52:8 is saying in relation to its context.
The entire theme of Isaiah is that the present time of corruption and evil is to be purged by divine judgment from which only a remnant will escape. Afterwards, a “golden age” will be ushered in.
The earlier chapters of Isaiah are concerned with the corruption and evil and the prediction of judgments on both Israel and the nations. Then comes the magnificent prophecy concerning Zion redeemed. This is how it opens: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” Isaiah 40:1.
The prophet, however, predicts that when this message is first delivered, it will go unheeded. Jerusalem had been in captivity so long, that her watchmen found it almost impossible to wake up the people spiritually. Again and again the call is given: “Hearken to me”; “Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation”; “Hearken unto me”; “I, even I, am he that comforteth you”; “Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem”; “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion.” Isaiah 51:1, 4, 7, 12, 17; 52:1. But to all these entreaties of the Lord, Jerusalem fails to respond.
At last, the weary watchmen do awake, and they begin to give the message. This has its counterpart for us living in the last days as well. We know that the loud cry is to go out to the entire world in the last days, calling the people to awake out of their Laodicean conditions.
It is interesting that this phrase in Isaiah 52:8, which is translated “eye to eye,” is, in Numbers 14:14, translated “face to face.” Evidently the thought is that of clearness of vision. The watchmen do not just see dimly, but clearly—there is nothing to obstruct their view. And when that happens, a great change comes upon the people of God, and they begin to prepare to receive Jesus when He comes in the clouds of heaven.
This prediction was partially fulfilled in the experience of Israel when, by the hand of Cyrus, God delivered them from Babylon. And it is to have a much grander fulfillment in the experience of spiritual Israel just before the close of probation.
God has great things in store for His people, and we want to make sure that we all are ready to have a part with Him when that great event arrives.
Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.