The Standard July 1, 2021
The theme for a recent community Vacation Bible School was “Arise, shine, for your light has come.” Each evening the students interacted with a joyful focus like “Arise! Shine with love” and “Arise! Shine with trust!,” stemming from the words of the prophet Isaiah found in chapter 60.
“’And as for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time forth and forevermore.’ Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 59:21-60:3)
In a sermon in London on January 1, 1882 Charles Spurgeon expounded on this passage. “Oh, but that is wonderful, — that God should not only give us light, but that that light should be his own glory. Creation is a part of God’s glory, but it is only a moonlight glory compared with that of redemption. God, in the gift of Jesus Christ, displayed the whole of his nature. Creation is not a canvas large enough for the whole image of God to be stamped upon it. Byron speaks of God’s face being mirrored in the sea; but there is not space enough for the face of Deity to be fully reflected in the broad Atlantic, or in all the oceans put together. The image of God is to be fully seen in Jesus Christ, and nowhere else; for there you behold attributes which Creation cannot display. Creation can manifest love, power, wisdom and much else; but how can Creation manifest justice, and justice lying side by side with mercy, like the lion and the lamb? It is only in Christ that you can see this wondrous sight, — God hating sin with perfect hatred, but yet loving sinners with much more than the tenderness of a mother towards her child.”
Imagine how reassuring the promise of God’s light would have been for the Jewish people exiled from their homeland. It is reminiscent of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter nine, which we typically read before Christmas. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy.” (Isaiah 9:2-3a)
The promise of God’s light is not limited to the Jewish people. Thankfully, all of us are invited to come out of the darkness. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)