Monday, October 5, 2015

Isaiah 60 - The Light

For the light makes everything visible.
This is why it is said,
"Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light."
Ephesians 5:14
1“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.
2Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.
3All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4“Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
Your sons are coming from distant lands;
your little daughters will be carried home.
5Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
6Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,
the camels of Midian and Ephah.
The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense
and will come worshiping the LORD.
7The flocks of Kedar will be given to you,
and the rams of Nebaioth will be brought for My altars.
I will accept their offerings,
and I will make My Temple glorious.
8“And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel,
like doves to their nests?
9They are ships from the ends of the earth,
from lands that trust in Me,
led by the great ships of Tarshish.
They are bringing the people of Israel home from far away,
carrying their silver and gold.
They will honor the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for He has filled you with splendor.
10“Foreigners will come to rebuild your towns,
and their kings will serve you.
For though I have destroyed you in My anger,
I will now have mercy on you through My grace.
11Your gates will stay open day and night
to receive the wealth of many lands.
The kings of the world will be led as captives
in a victory procession.
12For the nations that refuse to serve you
will be destroyed.
13“The glory of Lebanon will be yours—
the forests of cypress, fir, and pine—
to beautify my sanctuary.
My Temple will be glorious!
14The descendants of your tormentors
will come and bow before you.
Those who despised you
will kiss your feet.
They will call you the City of the LORD,
and Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15“Though you were once despised and hated,
with no one traveling through you,
I will make you beautiful forever,
a joy to all generations.
16Powerful kings and mighty nations
will satisfy your every need,
as though you were a child
nursing at the breast of a queen.
You will know at last that I, the LORD,
am your Savior and your Redeemer,
the Mighty One of Israel.a
17I will exchange your bronze for gold,
your iron for silver,
your wood for bronze,
and your stones for iron.
I will make peace your leader
and righteousness your ruler.
18Violence will disappear from your land;
the desolation and destruction of war will end.
Salvation will surround you like city walls,
and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
19“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For the LORD will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.
21All your people will be righteous.
They will possess their land forever,
for I will plant them there with My own hands
in order to bring Myself glory.
22The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”

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. They often act out their hopelessness in violence to themselves or others. It is today's headline news. 

The theme of light shining in darkness is the most powerful message to give to 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. Of course, this light is not within human capacity to give - even in best moods or modes. The Light that gives hope comes from God when He sent Jesus Christ into the world. He is the Light that shines in every Christian believer's life.

Isaiah 60 opens my eyes to make some necessary changes in my heart and life; to enable God's glorious light to brightly shine in and through my life to those around me. In the first five verses of the chapter, two commands are given: "Arise" "Shine". I am not allowed to live a passive life. This is why entertainment and other such activities, though not wrong in themselves, easily become moral issues. I need to think concretely what the Lord would have me do: Arise and Shine.

Arise. I need to cease walking with the world. This is not comfortable or easy. The world might demands that I live like them. I must refuse. No matter what the costs, I must step out of line from the world and live by God's heartbeat. I need to arise from compromises of the world where I become indebted and strive for the glory of God's kingdom.

Shine. It is not good enough if I only arise. I must shine. I must get involved, become active. I must refuse to be one who sifts through God-given treasures or stores them away. I cannot be easily offended and give up on the task God has set me on the path to His will, His glory. God commands me to shine at all costs.

What then is this great occasion that calls me to sacrifice all? What is this call that demands me to drop all for the sake of all?! Life change is demanded because of God's revelation of His glory in my life. My focus once upon the earth is now turned to the heavens. Light has come. No matter how dark or dim my circumstances might be, Jesus, my light has come. His light is nothing less than the great and glorious presence of God Himself.

"So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father's One and only Son". (John 1:14, NLT). Indeed I confess with John the Baptist that I am not that light. Christ Jesus is the light of the world. I cannot boast about my own life but that of the glorious presence of the Lord.

As John was finishing his ministry he asked, 'Do you think I am the Messiah? No, I am not! But he is coming soon--and I'm not even worthy to be his slave and untie the sandals on his feet.’ (Acts 13:25, NLT). The clarity and power of my mission will come as I remember the source from which I gain my light and are not confused by the presence of the darkness.

Throughout the ages, people have suggested political, legal, economic or religious agendas for reforming the world to be a better place. They have fought for them and even died for them in some cases. They have all drastically failed. Instead it is only God's Light shining through the sold-out lives of His believer's. The Light of Jesus Christ shining in the darkness; His order overcoming chaos; and His clarity ruling over confusion. No more time can be wasted through man's self-efforts.  

"Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:9,10 NLT).

The believer's call is to learn more about His Light. He is our hope. In Christ, the Light of the world, I will fully discover the glory of God. I must insist on knowing Christ and none other. I have nothing unless I have Christ.

Living in God's presence changes lives. Either people turn to Him or flee in sin from Him. Everyone is born into this world full of darkness. It is so deep no one can see their way out of it. We are saved by His grace. God rises upon His own as the sun arises in the sky. Everything is made for His glorious purpose.

I cannot gain my identity, purpose or strength from those around me. It is only in God's Light shining through my life which gives me purpose.  God is not troubled by the hopelessness, by all the darkness in the world. In His own time, He carries out His plan for distributing His Light throughout the world. 

He is not impressed or threatened by the Enlightened Age of Thinking. He waits and shows the results of their so-called knowledge and expertise. Man's problems are not solved but compounded by their own human philosophies.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." (John 1:4,5, NLT). Early Jesus Christ 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 shines into the world.

God's Light, Jesus Christ, is the only real hope for the world. One of the greatest blessings I have  in Christ is the ability to dwell with Him as my Light. One day, in the new heaven and new earth, I will no longer stumble but will see clearly and love wholly His will for me. Having been set apart through His blood, I am even now beginning to walk, however imperfectly, in this Light as I love God and my neighbor, especially my neighbors with whom I gather to worship the Almighty.

Dear Father in Heaven, now is the time for Your Light to shine. 
Now is the time for You to shine brightly into my life. Rid my heart of every dark blot. Remove all those things that block Your Light from shining in me to Your full glory. 
Now is the time for the Light to shine forth in tremendous glaring Light into this dark world. 
May those who call you Lord, arise and shine so all may see You. In Christ's glorious Name, Amen.