Hopelessness is a common description of broken people. They have no where to turn, nothing they can do to change the circumstances of their lives to where it is livable. The theme of light shining in darkness is the most powerful message to give to such hopeless people. No matter how black the darkness and difficult it seems to shrug it off, one needs only think of how turning on a light can bring a whole change to the dismal situation. We of course this light is not ourselves in our best moods or modes, but the light that comes from God when He sent Jesus Christ into the world. He is the Light that shines in every Christian life.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. (Isaiah 60:1-5).
To open our eyes and make necessary changes in our hearts and lives to enable God's glorious light to brightly shine in and through our lives to those around us.
A) Instilling the Mission (Isaiah 60:1a)
The two commands are to arise and shine. We are not allowed to live passive lives. This is why entertainment and other such activities, though not wrong in themselves, easily become moral issues. We need to think concretely what the Lord would have us do: Arise and Shine.
Arise. We need to cease walking with the world. This might not be comfortable or easy. The world might even demand that we live with them. But we must refuse. We are mission oriented. No matter what the costs, we must step out of line from the world and live by God's heartbeat. We need to arise from compromises of the world where we become indebted and strive for the glory of God's kingdom.
Shine. It is not good enough if we only arise. We must shine. We must get involved. We must become active. I recently heard Paul who was urged to sign up for two professional baseball teams. Instead he chose to work bringing the gospel to the Chinese getting by on a bare minimum of subsistent. We must refuse to be those who sift through their treasures and then put them away. We must consider it sin to be easily offended and give up on the task God has set us to. We must shine at all costs.
What then is this great occasion that calls us to sacrifice all? What is this call that demands us to drop all for the sake of all?!
"For your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you."
Life change is demanded because of God's revelation of His glory in our lives. Our focus once upon the earth is now turned to the heavens. Light has come. No matter how dark or dim our circumstances might be, our light has come. This light is nothing less than the great and glorious presence of Jehovah.
Indeed we confess with John the Baptist that we are not that light. Christ Jesus is the light of the world. We are not boasting about our own lives but of the glorious presence of the Lord.
The clarity and power of our mission will come as we remember the source from which we gain our light and are not confused by the presence of the darkness.
Many others have through the ages suggested political, legal, economic or religious agendas. They have fought for them and even died for them in some cases. They have all drastically failed us. Instead we need to stand up and let God's light shine through our lives. Only then will light shine in the darkness, order overcome chaos, and clarity rule over confusion. How much more time will we waste through our self-efforts?!
Our call is to learn more about this Light. He is our hope. In Christ, the Light of the world, we will fully discover the glory of God. We must insist on knowing Christ and none other. We have nothing unless we have Christ.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. (Isaiah 60:1,2, NASB).
Living in God's presence will change our lives. Either we will turn from Him or flee from our sin and turn to Him. Each of us are born into this world full of darkness. It is so deep that we cannot see our way out of it. We are saved by grace. Jehovah rises upon us much as the sun arises in the sky. And we can then see how everything is made for His glorious purposes.
We are not to gain our identity, purpose or strength from those around us. The Cambridge Seven gave up their wealth and fame for the sake of bringing this Light to those in far and distant darkness. In this sense we need to clarify our mission to let God's light shine in our lives.
The Lord is not at all troubled by the darkness. In His own time He carries out His plan for distributing His Light throughout the world. He is not at all threatened by the Enlightened Age. He waits and shows the results of their so-called knowledge and expertise. Man's problems are not solved but compounded.
Early on He decided on the means He will dissolve the darkness. He could have shown forth His light and awed all. Instead, however, the Lord chose to have His light shine through vessels that will reveal His light. The degree that the vessel's reception of the light be clear and the windows that open to the world clean, God's own light will shine into the world.
The change we should look for is when people come and request our help in improving their lives and society. They will be able to see that they can do nothing but will see that God in us can do something for them.
We usually spend our money, time and effort on our agendas and solutions instead of waiting for the Lord. We need to get to the point of letting God first transform us and those around us and then let God's Spirit do His work around us.
We will see that nations will come to our light which is really God's light in us. Our rising will really be God's rising in us. Although there are not a few who decry spiritual lives as too heavenly to be of any earthly good, we challenge them with God's model:
Don't force the governments and organizations. Focus on living righteous lives where you are. As people are touched by God's work in our lives, then we must in turn introduce them to the Lord Himself. There will be those who reject God's light just as they rejected Jesus' miracles. But our duty is to have a genuine hope for the worst of societies that if they see the Lord's light, they will change.
The problem is with us. We do not show forth God's light. We are carrying out our agendas rather than God's. Our light is our wisdom, knowledge and experience, rather than the presence of God.
A) Instilling the Mission (Isaiah 60:1a)
What things do we treasure most in life? What would we give them up for? We see the disciples forsook all to follow Jesus Christ? Have you taken up this road? What challenges hold you back? What have you given up for the Lord?
B) Clarifying Our Orders (Isaiah 60:1b)
Where is this light to be found? Have you met Him? Why is 'light' used to describe Him? Has He become 'your light?' What books do you use to receive counsel? How is the light connected to the glory of God? How does God's light and glory dwell in your lives?
C) Transforming Our Lives (Isaiah 60:2)
In what ways have you taken to allow His Light to shine in you more? How do the spiritual disciplines of fasting, praying and meditating on God's Word maximize this purpose? How does the flames in Pentecost help us understand how God means for His disciples to be His light?
D) Transforming Our Societies (Isaiah 60:3-5)
What changes are said to take place when the light arises? Where have you seen this in your personal life? What about in those around you? How would you define what this light is? How do governments and other organizations like religions simulate this light? Does it work? Why or why not? What should we do in response to our ailing society around us despite in many cases millions of dollars be spent to help?
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Biblical Foundations for Freedom