‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.’
Earlier in the book Isaiah has been telling his people of their sin, and because of their refusal to repent, he tells them also of the coming captivity at the hands of Babylon. But now he tells them that there will come a day when their land is restored to them, and Jerusalem is once again a light to the nations.
We know that truly there is darkness covering the earth and thick darkness over many people and nations. Sometimes there can be darkness in our lives and dare I say, we may even find it in our churches. The Lord comes to dispel the darkness. We belong to God, He bought us with the price of His Son’s life, therefore we are precious to Him and eternally and deeply loved by Him. His very Spirit lives within us. So His glory appears over us; His glory rises upon us.
The Amplified Bible puts verse 1 like this, ‘Arise (from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you: rise to a new life). Shine – be radiant with the glory of the Lord; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.’ I don’t know most of you really well and so I don’t know how things are with you. Maybe everything is great for you – that’s good. Praise the Lord! Maybe some of you have deep concerns or issues in your lives that are keeping you down and you feel as if you are under a cloud of darkness. To you the Lord says, ‘Rise from the depression in which circumstances are keeping you……….Shine, be radiant with the glory of the Lord.’ Give your burden to Him and let Him be your Guide through the difficulties you may be facing.
A few weeks ago on a very grey, dull day I looked out of my kitchen door window and saw a little flower – bright orange – which seemed to be glowing, and it sure lifted my spirit in praise to God. The flower was a nasturtium and it was growing in a tub, blooming against a dark brick wall, but it had risen out of the dark earth and was sharing its vibrant colour with me, the glory of the Lord in a flower.
I have a vivid memory of a rainbow which I saw as quite a young child. I was living with great aunts in the countryside in a row of about eight houses which looked out over the fields towards distant hills in the background. Again, it was a dark, dull day, but we still went a few doors along to a friend’s house for afternoon tea. Just as we were about to go home, the sky turned very dark, almost black and there was a heavy shower of rain. I was at the front door waiting for my aunts. The rain stopped and although the sky remained quite dark, as I looked out of the open door a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. The colours shone – I can still picture it in my mind – each colour was well defined and shining brightly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another rainbow to match that one; maybe that was just my childhood mind, but the rainbow had arisen in the dark sky and was clear and it was shining, the glory of the Lord in a rainbow.
As a nurse on night duty one summer, I loved to sit on the broad windowsill of the ward and watch the sunrise, if circumstances permitted it. I so enjoyed watching the sun come up out of the darkness. All is dark, then gradually there is a chink of pale light, and bit by bit, little by little, the light becomes more and more intense, and then the sun appears over the horizon and rises slowly in the sky until the earth is filled with the glory of the full shining sun, the glory of the Lord in the sunrise.
I believe that is how the Lord desires us to be. Jesus refers to Himself as ‘the Light of the world’ (John 8:12). And He also describes us, His followers, as the ‘light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14-16). The Lord Jesus is aware of our circumstances, He knows what makes us happy, He knows what makes us sad. He knows what is going on in our lives right now. But He still asks that we ‘Arise and Shine’. We have His light upon us and in us to enable us to rise up and shine and make us radiant with His joy. We reflect His light, His glory, and others will be drawn to that Light. What is God longing to see in our lives, what transformation is He seeking in our lives, in our churches, in our communities, in our nations? Are we willing and ready to commit ourselves to whatever He wants done in our lives? Are we willing to arise and shine? To-day and always, dear sisters, share the Joy with one another. To-day and always, rise up and shine. Let your light be seen. Do not be afraid of the darkness. Jesus can put the darkness out. ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’. Claim that every day of your lives, for His honour and His glory.
Margaret Brown - shared at Özdere Conference, Turkey - 12-15th November 2015