Isaiah 60:1–3, 19 (NIV)
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.
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.
The Book of Isaiah, in its entirety, is a rich and challenging text full of complex realities and profound mysteries. For sixty-six chapters, Isaiah reaches into the darkness of the people’s dysfunction and shines a light of hope for them right in the middle of their mess. Then, simultaneously, as Isaiah shares words of encouragement and hope for their present suffering, Isaiah also points forward to a coming promise. Though it would be ages before the people of God would see that promise fulfilled, it would be fulfilled when a coming Messiah would break into the world as a child King. Then, with divine mystery that only an anointed prophet could do, Isaiah points further forward to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth in eternity. Isaiah is prophesying the faithfulness of God to his covenant people now, the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, and the promised return of a King to rule and reign over a new creation forever; a beautiful three-fold prophecy.
And if that’s not good enough to break into our darkness with eternal hope, Isaiah goes on to paint an incredible picture of the coming reign of God’s kingdom, where God’s beauty and presence will be the only source of light we need. The life and light of the reigning Lord, and his radiance, will be their everything—our everything. Isaiah reveals the coming promise and current truth that God’s glory and radiance are all we need.
As I reflect on that coming promise and try to imagine eternity, I am awe-struck by the power of these prophetic words. When Christ comes again, the glory of God will ultimately be the light and life of the kingdom.
Light reflects, remember?
Sometimes that reflection is through us, to others who are lost in darkness, unaware of the source of the light. Other times, the reflection of light that happens in us is a reflection back to the source itself. Our lives, for his glory. It’s an incredible picture Isaiah has created in the earlier segment of the scripture that the people of God will shine so brightly with the light of Christ that it becomes a beacon of hope to the world. Incredibly, that reflection doesn’t simply point to the work of God in us as if we are the thing to stand in awe of. Instead, it radiates back to the source. His light shining on us and through us reflects glory back to him.
This image of what is to come is beautifully overwhelming, a day when all we need will be the source himself. A day is coming when God’s kingdom will be restored, and we will bask in his radiance, glorifying God in response. A gift of relationship with God is imagined for us here—where we don’t just receive from God, but we enter in with God, giving and getting. Relationship is what makes this God, the God, so very special; he’s a God that enters in, connects, acts with compassion and commitment, and shares his image with us. That relationship with God will be known even into eternity. Our lives for his glory, and his glory, our radiance. What a beautiful picture of God’s people reflecting glory back to God and God’s glory being the source of life and strength for us in a beautiful, life-giving, reciprocal relationship. As people find their salvation and life in Christ and allow his light to shine through them, it ultimately points back to the glory of God, and God’s glory becomes our glory too. Isaiah said, “your God will be your glory.”
Advent calls us to remember with hope the prophecies of Isaiah because they are the light in our darkness. The reminder of God’s certain return, the very hope we cling to, and the thing we so deeply long for is a coming reality. And the light and beauty we’ll find in it will be more spectacular than we could ever imagine. If darkness overwhelms you today, hold onto the coming reality of Christ’s return, that one day, your every need will be met in him. His glory will be your source and strength.
Incredibly, there’s even more. It’s not just the longing for a coming day. The future return we’re waiting for is also our current reality. We don’t have to wait for the return of Christ for him to be our source and strength for all things. If Christ is already reigning (which we believe he is, that he actively sits on the throne over all his creation), then the possibility for Christ to be your everlasting light now is a present reality. The King has come. The King is here. The King is coming again. Until we bask in his eternal radiance, we can find our glory in his presence with us now. Just like Isaiah infused the desperate people of God with the promise that God has not forgotten them, our strength for today is the same; Christ’s already reign means he is actively entering in now. It’s a three-fold promise, remember? God is with us where we are. God sent a Savior. And God will return in glory. Like the words from beautiful hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” that promise is our “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
Thanks be to God.
Almighty God, our source for all light and life, we praise you for your faithfulness revealed from generation to generation. We glorify your name for who you are, your enduring presence with us, and rejoice together in your coming return. As we eagerly wait for Christmas Day and the arrival of our Savior, may we also wait with eager expectation for your return. And, in the meantime, may we live as those whose Savior and Redeemer is already enthroned. Give us the power, passion, and practice to change the way we think, interact with the world, and return your glory so every part of who we are shines back to you. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Is the life of Christ your sun and moon? Is he your source for all things, even now? If not, how do you begin to shift in new ways toward his light for everything you need?
And as you consider how your own life reflects the light of Christ to others, does the light that shines through you ultimately reflect back to him? Are you shining your light in the right direction? Are you busy absorbing his light, willing to take from him, without giving glory back where it goes? That may be a little true for all of us.
If you’re in a particular funk, and the darkness is really distracting right now, one way to run toward the light is to find yourself in the act of praise. Praising and glorifying God with your words, prayers, and songs shifts the present darkness as it invites the presence of God to break through it. What’s the difference between thanksgiving and praise? Thanksgiving is saying thank you for something God has done. Praising God is speaking to his goodness and glory just because he is. Praising God can move you from any darkness into the light of his presence. I know. Because Isaiah just said so, “Your God will be your glory.” And, I know, because I’ve seen it myself. (And, I know, if you’re in a particular funk, it’s the last thing you want to do, but trust me. It changes thoughts and attitudes in a powerful way, so what can it hurt to try?)
Today, go grab the song “Holy” by Bristol House.
Turn it up. Get lost in it. Sing along like you’re alone in the car.
That kind of worship, taking a moment to glorify God (even if you don’t feel like it), may just be the light you need today.
Special shout out to Nathan and Michael for this song. Incredible.
For the Awakening,