Rise Up and Shine!
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, October 9, 2005
Copyright © 2005, P. G. Mathew
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Isaiah 60 speaks about realities that are true in this fallen world into which the light of God has come in the first coming of Jesus Christ. But it also speaks of realities that will be true when Jesus Christ comes again and creates a new heaven and a new earth in which his people shall dwell with him in eternal joy. We want to speak about four realities: the divine demand, the divine rationale, the divine ultimate purpose, and the divine hope which we will only fully realize at the second coming of Christ.
The Divine Demand
This chapter begins with a glorious command: "Arise, shine, for your light has come!" The question is, how can sinners arise and shine? The Bible says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Every sinner, in fact, can be likened to a black hole.
What are black holes? They are created by large stars that die by collapsing on themselves. As they die, they shrink smaller and smaller and become heavier and heavier. Their gravitational force becomes so strong that they pull nearby objects into themselves. A black hole, therefore, cannot rise and shine. Black holes pull things in and let nothing out-not even light. That is why a black hole is such a good illustration of the sinful self. A sinner is self-centered; he pulls everything into himself and gives nothing out.
Isaiah 59:9-11 describes Israel as walking in darkness, being in prison, groping along the walls, having no eyes, groaning in anguish, and, finally, dead. How can such a people rise and shine? They cannot, for they are morally unable. How can those who are dead in trespasses and sins rise and shine? How can darkness become light? How can the dead live? How can the self-absorbed love others? How can the thief give and the liar tell the truth? We need a Redeemer-one who is light, one who will give sight to the blind and life to the dead. Only such a Redeemer can cause us to rise and shine.
Our God-Given Redeemer
Isaiah anticipated such a Redeemer, describing him in various places as the Messiah, a Davidic king, the Suffering Servant, Immanuel, the Son of God, the God/man. This Redeemer is not a black hole; he is the Sun of Righteousness who rises with healing in his wings. He is high and exalted, the glorious One, the One who is thrice-holy, yet who also dwells with those who are contrite and brokenhearted. It is he who can give us life and light and enable us to rise and shine.
Isaiah 9:2 says, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned," and Isaiah 59:20 promises, "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins." Isaiah 58:8 and 10 tells us, "Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear . . . then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." And here in Isaiah 60 we read, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you" (vv. 1-2). Our light has come! The Lord knows our terrible condition. Yet he comes, seeking us.
"The Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you." Here the prophet is speaking about the first advent of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who identified himself as such to his disciples, saying, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). John 3:19 tells us, "This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light." But not only is he light, he also makes us light: "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). In Ephesians 5:8 and 11 Paul writes, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light . . . Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them."
God Makes Us Light
As I was growing up in southern India, I was a black hole. But God's gospel light came upon me and gave me life and light. God poured out his Holy Spirit upon me and regenerated me. I was given the gifts of repentance and saving faith so that I could repent, confess, and believe in Jesus Christ alone for my eternal salvation. I was justified, clothed in the garment of Christ's perfect, unimpeachable, divine righteousness, and adopted into God's own family. To this day I am being sanctified, and I look forward to being glorified and dwelling with God in holy communion forever. God transformed me from a black hole to a shining star!
This is exactly what happened to you too, if you are a Christian. No longer are you groping along in a dark prison; God has given you spiritual eyes so that now you can see heavenly realities. You were blind, but now you see. You were dead, but now you live. You were hateful, but now you love. You were depressed and hopeless, but now you rejoice with inexpressible joy, looking eagerly for the coming of the Lord and the glorious rapture.
Second Corinthians 4 speaks of the moral inability of unbelievers to rise and shine: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (v. 4). But in verse 6 we find God's solution to this problem: "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'" God himself sends his light into our hearts, making us able to see. He works in our interior so that now we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Arise! Shine! This is the divine demand. And what God commands, we can now do, for he enables us in Jesus Christ. Just as the dead Lazarus came forth from the tomb in response to the word of Christ, so we are made alive when the light of the gospel comes to us.
In Luke 1 Zechariah spoke of this mighty work of God to be accomplished through the gospel: "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (vv. 76-79).
In John 1 we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (vv. 1, 14). In John 17:22 Jesus says to his Father about all who believe in him, "I have given them the glory that you gave me." God delights in transforming black holes into shining stars and giving his glory to the ignoble, wretched, wicked, miserable people of the world.
The Divine Rationale
Why does God demand that his people rise and shine? Jesus told his disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). God wants us to shine so that unbelievers may come to worship him.
In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul begins, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you. . . ." Unless God works in us and causes us to be raised from our spiritual deadness, we cannot rise, shine, or work out anything. But because God has worked in us and continues to do so, we are able "to will and to act according to his good purpose." Paul continues, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life." How do we shine? By proclaiming the gospel through our lives and words.
Shine as stars! We can shine because Christ, the light of the world, shines through us. But what does it mean to shine? It means to live a holy life, a life separated from the world, an obedient life, a life pleasing to God. The more holy our life, the more brightly we shine.
In Galatians 5 we find two types of lives described. First, there is the life of a sinner, a black hole who pulls everything into himself. It is description of the kingdom of self: "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (vv. 19-21).
But then in verses 22-23 we read about the life of a shining star: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." What a change! Paul says in Ephesians 4:28, "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need."
To shine means that husbands will love their wives, that children will obey their parents, and wives will respect their husbands. To shine means we will walk in the light of the gospel and live by God's commandments. To shine means to separate ourselves from the corrupt lifestyles and cultures of the world.
To shine also means to give the light of the gospel to others by bearing witness to Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14 asks, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" God's people must shine through their words as well as their lives. Paul said, "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" Why? Because the gospel alone "is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
The salvation of the world depends on our living holy Christian lives and proclaiming the gospel. We are the hope of multitudes of people who are black holes, sinners on their way to an unpleasant eternal destiny. God has positioned every one of us in our hometowns, in our jobs, in our schools, and in every other area of our lives, so that we may shine and give light to those who are blind to the gospel.
God commands us to rise and shine. This is not a suggestion; it is a divine demand that must be obeyed, for without our shining, the lost cannot be saved. Philosophy cannot save anyone, nor can science, materialism, patriotism or other religions. Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world; no one can be saved outside of him.
That is why we do not believe in pluralism, thinking that salvation is found in any religion. Nor do we believe in inclusivism, thinking that Christianity should embrace people no matter what they believe. We believe in exclusivism-that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone. This is why we must rise and shine and bring hope to an otherwise hopeless world. There is only one Savior, as Isaiah 43:11 tells us: "I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior." Peter said the same thing to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Jesus Christ himself declared this, saying, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6); "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25); "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).
Nations Will Come
Our shining is essential for the salvation of the world. Jesus told his disciples, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). That is why we must never cover our light with the bushel of worldliness and compromise. The more holy we are, the more brightly we will shine and the more easily the elect sinners of the world will come to trust in Jesus Christ.
Arise and shine! This is speaking about world mission as well as local evangelism. Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). What is the rationale for doing so? Isaiah 60:2 gives us the reason: "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. . ." (KJV). Despite all of man's knowledge and innovation, the world remains in thick, deep moral darkness. All of man's enlightenment is really endarkenment.
But notice, God so loved this world of sinners "that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). God cared for us when we were darkness and caused us to hear the gospel and live. Even so, he loves other sinners and places us in their lives so that we can bring them to salvation in Christ.
Isaiah 60:3 says, "Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." What a wonderful promise! There is no doubt about it; there is no "if" or "but"; it is a divine guarantee. Both those who are ruled and those who rule will come. This word "come" appears several times in this chapter. If we shine, people will come; if they are not coming, perhaps we are not shining. This knowledge should encourage us to shine the gospel light so that the elect sinners of the world will come to our light and be saved.
It is God's purpose that all the families of the earth will be blessed in his Son, Jesus (Genesis 12:3), and we see this happening throughout history. Rahab, a wicked Amorite prostitute of Jericho, heard the gospel and believed in the God of Israel. Ruth the Moabitess heard the gospel and also joined herself to Israel. Naaman the Syrian commander heard the gospel through his Israelite slave girl and became a believer in the God of Israel. The Magi heard the good news and traveled from far away to worship Jesus in Bethlehem.
Isaiah 60:6-9 speaks of many nations-Midian, Ephah, Sheba, Kedar, Nebaioth, and Tarshish-all coming to God through the shining of his people. From east and west, people from all over the world will come to the light of the gospel. Why do they come? Because their idols cannot save them. Isaiah mocks these idols, calling them worthless and nothing. So when these people hear the gospel, they will abandon their false gods and come to the light of the living and true God.
The truth is, the nations have been waiting for the gospel, as we read in several places. For example, Isaiah 42:3-4 says concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope." Here "the islands" stands for the nations of the world. And in Isaiah 51:5 the Lord says, "The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations." In Isaiah 2:3 we read: "Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.'" So the gospel light is anticipated in many places. And we are told not only that nations will come, but also kings with their kingdoms. Rome crucified Jesus in the first century, but by the fourth century, Rome capitulated to Christ the crucified one. Literally thousands of kings have come to confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
Additionally, we are told that these kings are coming, not empty-handed, but with their wealth to honor God. In the same way, we are not to come into the house of God empty-handed, but with money-our silver and gold. And they are coming as servants to serve our God. And as they come, they are praising God and proclaiming the gospel. They are coming to worship, and God accepts their worship on the altar. They are coming to the Holy One of Israel, the only true and living God. They are coming, having repented of their sins and turned their backs on their own philosophies and idols. They are coming because they are drawn by the Sovereign God who loved them.
Isaiah 11:10 says, "In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will rally to him." This is speaking about Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the gospel. Nations will come and kings will come. But no one comes to Jesus Christ unless God enables them. In John 6:44 Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day." Jesus spoke of the same idea in John 12:32: "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth," meaning when redemption had been accomplished through his death on the cross, "I will draw all men to myself."
In Revelation 21:24 we find the final fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy: "The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor to it." But even now this is being fulfilled in our lives. Nations are coming to the feast prepared for them by God. The invitation is for all people: "Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost" (Isaiah 55:1). "Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor" (Isaiah 55:5). When God summons, we will come, because he is drawing us.
Where are all these people coming? Oh, it is not to a literal Jerusalem, but to the heavenly Zion. Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together, there I am in their midst." Hebrews 12:22 tells us, "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God."
Every Christian has a God-given responsibility to shine. The Thessalonians were among the first Gentile disciples of the apostle Paul. Yet he wrote, "And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia-your faith in God has become known everywhere" (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Though they were new believers, these Christians were shining, both by their lives and by proclaiming the gospel.
The Divine Ultimate Purpose
What is the divine ultimate purpose of our rising and shining, and of the nations coming and worshiping? Why does God in his great love and rich mercy make us alive with Christ? Why does he transform black holes into shining stars? He does so for his own glory. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
In verse 21 the Lord says, "They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor," or "that I may be glorified in them." Our ultimate purpose is to display God and his greatness, saving power, majesty, wisdom, compassion, and judgment. (PGM) Both in our life here and in heaven, we are to display God's glory. To God alone be the glory-soli Deo gloria! Peter speaks about this in 1 Peter 2:9: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
Thus, we must ask ourselves: What are we displaying? Are we only interested in revealing ourselves to the world, or do we manifest Christ, who is the light of the world? Paul said, "To me to live is Christ." That is displaying the glory of God. Do people see Christ and come to know him as God and Savior by looking at us and hearing our words? That is the purpose for our shining.
But let me tell you, our shining will also cause some people to be judged. Not everyone who sees us will believe in our great God, as we are told in verse 12: "For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly destroyed. This is a serious threat-it is speaking of an unpleasant, eternal destiny. All are not going to come. So let me ask you: Have you come? If not, I invite you to come even now and trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Savior. If you are a black hole, he will make you into a shining star.
The Divine Hope of the Church
Isaiah 60 also speaks about the second coming of Christ, which is the blessed hope of the church. So now we want to examine those truths that will be fully realized at the second coming. They are already true in some measure, but they will be realized in their fullness when Jesus comes again.
"I will make you the everlasting pride" (v. 15). We can also translate it, "I will make you everlasting glory." This is why we do not need to seek the glory of the world. And, notice, God himself is saying he will do this. When God makes a promise, he fulfills it. We can count on it.
God has destined us for everlasting glory. All the glory of this world is fleeting, yet people crave for it and seek it every day. But we should learn from the temptation of Jesus. When Satan offered him all the kingdoms of this world with their splendor if only he would worship him, Jesus said, "No!" and we should do so also. Never sell your soul for the vanishing, evanescent glory of this world. Trust in Jesus Christ, who says, "I will make you everlasting glory."
But how does he make us glory? We are told that he will not share his glory with anyone, and certainly not with idols. Yet God does share his glory with his people. He does so by first glorifying his Son. In Isaiah 49:3 we read, "He said to me, 'You are my servant Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.'" God puts his glory in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and then he glorifies those who trust in him. That is how he makes us into shining stars, into everlasting glory.
We see this happening to some degree already. Isaiah 44:23 declares, "Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel." God has displayed his glory in the Son, and he now displays his glory in all who are related to him in vital union by their trust in him.
Isaiah 60:9 says, "Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." Even now he has endowed us with splendor and glory. But a time is coming when we will experience it in its fullness.
In Isaiah 61:3 the Lord says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty in place of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor" (vv. 1-3). God became incarnate in Jesus Christ for this purpose-"for the display of his splendor."
In John 17:22 Jesus prayed, "I have given them the glory that you gave me." God displayed his splendor in the Suffering Servant who, in turn, glorifies us. Christ was raised from the dead, ascended into the heavens, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. And, amazingly, we are also seated with him in the heavenlies.
He will make us "the joy of all generations" (v. 16). This is another way of God saying, "I will give you everlasting joy." Now, the Bible speaks about the pleasures of sin for a season. Apparently that means such pleasure is not everlasting. Yes, sin gives us some pleasure, but after that brief joy, our countenance falls and we experience depression, guilt, misery, and a sense of loss. But here God is saying, "I will give you everlasting joy." That is why even now we can rejoice in tribulations also. Yes, we may have our ups and downs. But the time is coming when we will experience everlasting, unending, constant joy in the presence of God.
"Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (v. 16). This is not a theoretical knowledge; it is an experimental relationship with God.
Even now we commune with God in some measure, but the time is coming when we will enjoy heavenly communion in all its fullness, and we will know him as our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. We will not complain, "Your hand is shortened"; we will gladly affirm, "You are the Mighty One."
"I will make peace your governor and righteousness your rulers" (v. 17). This is speaking about an uninterrupted state of soundness and peace, a state of no fear, misery, or war. Paul may have been referring to Isaiah when he wrote, "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). This is what we will experience when sin is dealt with, when Christ comes again, when there is a new heaven and a new earth. The kingdom of God is defined in Romans 14:17 as righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We experience it in some measure even now, but we will experience it in its fullness when Christ comes again.
"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end" (vv. 19-20). Twice in these verses Isaiah says "the Lord will be your everlasting light."
This idea is repeated in Revelation 21 and 22. No longer will created things give us light. That does not mean they will cease to exist. But the problem with created things is that they change. The problem in this world is flux; everything is changing..
But when Christ comes again, mutability will be replaced with constancy. God himself will be with us, and he will be our light. "I will be your God and you will be my people." That is the nature of the covenant. It shall be fulfilled when Christ comes again and we shall see him as he is and enjoy fellowship with him forevermore.
The apostle John was harking back to this passage from Isaiah when he wrote, "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp" (Revelation 21:23), and "There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light" (Revelation 22:5). Life with God is inexpressible joy.
"And your days of sorrow will end" (v. 20). As long as we live in this world, there will be sorrow, for it is a result of sin. But the blessed hope of the church is that the time will come when sin will be dealt with fully, and there will be no more sorrow, sighing, and groaning.
Isaiah spoke of this earlier in chapter 35. "And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way. . . But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (vv. 8-10). This is also stated in Revelation 7:17: "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes."
This fallen world is characterized by tears. But in the new heaven and the new earth, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Sorrow comes from sin; the Messiah dealt with sin by dying in our place: "The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus destroyed our death by his death. That is the reason there will be no more tears in heaven.
Isaiah 25 tells us, "On this mountain [the Lord] will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation'" (vv. 7-9).
"Then will all your people be righteous" (v. 21). In this fallen world, the church is a mixture of righteous and unrighteous. But in the new heaven and the new earth, everyone will be righteous. This is talking about the elect, a certain number of people that God chose from before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In time, the Lord calls them effectually and justifies them.
But how can sinners become righteous? The answer is given in Isaiah 53:11: "After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." This is why the only way be saved is to trust in Jesus Christ alone. He alone is the righteous servant who makes his people righteous.
Not only will everyone be righteous, but we are told "they will possess the land forever" (v. 21). The land of Canaan belonged to God, but he gave it to his people to enjoy based on their obedience. When they did not obey, they were expelled in accordance with the covenant curse. But a time is coming when God's people will enjoy the land forever. This is speaking about entering into the fullness of covenant blessings, symbolized here by land. It is speaking about the richness of all the covenant blessings that we will enjoy, including the greatest blessing of fellowship with God. God has created us to enjoy fellowship with him. Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.
God came to the garden in the cool of the day until sin disrupted his fellowship with man. But that paradise lost has now been regained. "Today you will be with me in paradise," Jesus told the thief (Luke 23:43). This is what Isaiah is speaking about: God's people will enjoy his covenant blessings forever.
Verse 21 also says, "They are the shoot I have planted." If you are a Christian, this is true of you. Who planted you? God. And do you think the shoot he plants will wither away? Not at all! He planted us in the right place, in the right soil, near the stream, where we flourish and thrive. Then it says, "the work of my hands." We are the work of God's hands. Paul may have been referring to this when he wrote in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship," or God's poem, in the Greek. We are the result of God's work from beginning to end; salvation is by grace. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
This should give us great security. If we are the shoot that God has planted and the work of his hands, do you think that we can lose our salvation? Do you think that Satan will be able to come and destroy us? Do you think that anyone can snatch us out of God's hand? And, finally, we are "for the display of [God's] splendor." God is doing all these things for us that we may glorify him.
Are You Shining?
Are you shining for God? If not, perhaps you have not yet savingly trusted in Christ. The Spirit of God must create life, and he will do so. We are told he creates praises on the lips of people. Therefore, look to the crucified and risen Christ and be saved. The Lord tells us, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22, KJV).
If you are a confessing Christian, are you shining the light of Christ in this world? Do you give light to those who are sitting in darkness? Or are you further confusing them? Is your spouse coming to your light? Are your children coming to your light and being saved? Are your friends coming to your light and being saved? What about your neighbors, your fellow workers, and your fellow students?
The greatest joy for a Christian is not to behold a shiny new car in the driveway, given as a gift. Isaiah 60:5 says: "Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy. . . ." What is the source of your joy? Verse 4 says it is seeing our sons and daughters and others coming to confess the Lord. The angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner repents; if you are a parent, the greatest joy you can experience is to hear that your children have come to the light.
Arise and shine! If you are a Christian, this is a divine demand-to live a holy life and proclaim the gospel in the place you have been planted. What is the rationale? Because there is no other Savior, and God loves the people of the world who have no understanding of the gospel. God has planted us here so that we may shine as light.
Arise and shine! May your children, your spouse, your neighbors and your friends come to you and be saved. May they come confessing Christ. As they do so, your heart will throb with joy, and heaven itself will celebrate. To God be all glory! Amen.
Copyright © 2005, P. G. Mathew
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The "NIV" and "New International Version" are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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