The Lord says, “I will bring you lasting prosperity; the wealth of the nations will flow to you like a river that never goes dry. You will be like a child that is nursed by its mother, carried in her arms, and treated with love. I will comfort you in Jerusalem, as a mother comforts her child." Isaiah 66:12-13, GN
This promise universally pertains to all of God’s people. The metaphor of God’s parenthood is sufficiently expressed in Scripture. God demonstrates all the traits of a perfect mother and father.
As a perfect mother, God is described as a woman in labor (Isaiah 42:14) and giving birth to his people (Deuteronomy 32:18). He is compared to a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15), to a comforting mother (Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 131:2), and to a mother teaching her child to walk (Hosea 11:3). God is described as a mother bear whose cubs have been taken away, as a hungry lioness (Hosea 13:8), as a mother eagle caring for her young (Deuteronomy 32:11-12), and as a mother hen (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34). David compared God to a woman (Psalm 123:2-3), and Jesus himself likened God to a woman cleaning her house to find a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).
God provided just enough healthy food for his people in the wilderness (Exodus 16:11-18), and he provides for us as well (Philippians 4:19). He urged his disciples to rest (Mark 6:31). He bandages our wounds (Psalm147:3) and will wipe away our tears (Isaiah 25:8). He comforts us (Isaiah 51:12) and carries us close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).
Now let me discuss the theological application of Jerusalem in Isaiah 66:13 and several places in the Scriptures concerning the new covenant. The heavenly Jerusalem is a divine metaphor depicting FREEDOM. Galatians 4:21-31 presents an analogy in which Hagar, Abraham’s maidservant, corresponds to the earthly Jerusalem, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem. Sarah is the “free woman,” (Galatians 4:22) and “the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother” (Galatians 4:26 GN).
The heavenly Jerusalem is allegorically linked to Sarah and to the new covenant. Paul's statement in Galatians 4:26, “The heavenly Jerusalem is free and is our mother” (GN), indicates that our new birth and freedom as believers came from and rests upon the new covenant established by Jesus Christ. We experience real freedom when we are one with the Triune God. This freedom is “the freedom of the glory” ultimately seen in New Jerusalem. Here is real freedom:
“If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17. “For freedom, Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). “The freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
God promised Isaac (Genesis 17:16-19, 18:10, 14), and Isaac was born due to God’s promise leading to the biblical nation of Israel. Isaac’s birth was not a result of Abraham and Sarah’s human capabilities, for both had become “dead” concerning having a child (Romans 4:19). New Jerusalem is produced the same way—not by human effort but by God’s operation to all human beings who are willing to trust and obey Him. The new Jerusalem is not earthly but heavenly. This wonderful city has a heavenly nature because its source and constitution are God, and all believers belong to the New Jerusalem. As Paul mentioned, “Now you are God’s Children as a result of God’s promise, just as Isaac was” (Galatians 4:28, GN).
God is our perfect parent, as the psalmist exclaims, “even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10).