#79 - Spreading the Light
In the Bible in Isaiah chapter 60 the first 3 verses, the prophet tells us
"Arise, shine; for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For Darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."*
When this was written the people of Israel were ending a long period of exile in Babylon and beginning to return home. Some had been left in the occupation but the able were all taken to exile. The city of Jerusalem , the temple and much of the country lay in ruins. The people were wondering could they rebuild the temple, the city and the nation. Most of them had never seen Israel in its glory having been born and raised in exile. The prophet was preaching to these people and delivering God's message that the darkness in their lives was ending and light was returning.
The lesson from this scripture basically has a three-time fulfillment. In Isaiah's time it was going to be gradually fulfilled by the people restoring the nation. In Jesus' ministry this is the scripture leading into the scripture he announced as being fulfilled by his ministry on earth. Today as we look around this scripture can again be fulfilled in each of our lives and as groups of people devastated from the groups involved in the 9-11 attacks.
The people in Israel at that time thought they had lost God and his light and hope when they were exiled. They had the concept that God only lived in Israel. He didn't then, and lives in no small location today, just as some people seem to think he only lives in a church. The people had to realize that the light was there and that God was with them as they returned home. If they realized they had that light, they could accomplish the rebuilding. This began them to accomplish some of it, but it took further calls from God to get them to finish. However they did begin to gain a optimism again.
When Jesus began his ministry he was basically presenting his ministry to a group of people who believed again that the light had gone out by the Roman occupation, and doubts of where was God. He cited the verses in chapter 61 of Isaiah saying " he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners." Jesus took it a step further that the Israelites in the Old Testament had not understood, and that was that this light is not just for Israel , but for the whole world. For darkness had been upon the whole world in understanding God. Now Jesus was going to have his followers proclaim it to all, to the four corners of the earth. How often have we seen the light metaphor used when people come to know God. That a light has come into their life. As Isaiah was saying the light has come and it is time to arise and shine with that light.
On September 11, 2001, many people in the USA thought that darkness had descended on the US. There was a period of time of lost hope, and still for some today. Literally we watched a thick darkness cover the people in New York that day as the towers fell and the clouds arose. But that was not and is not the end. We have been called again by this scripture to arise. God's light still shines. We all grieve over the lost of 3000 that day, but I remember my first reaction and that was that there would be between 30,000 and 40,000 dead. That in itself is a miracle. We have given chase to those who did this evil to try to make our world a little safer.
If you have watched and read the stories on Afghanistan we have watched light arrive there. The initial pictures we saw were sad people living in darkness, with a destroyed country. It was a long time before I finally saw a picture from there with trees, or real buildings, or smiles on people. However as the Taliban was over thrown we started seeing a happier people and now reports of rebuilding. Afghanistan is facing just as Israel in Isaiah's time a rebuilding and hundreds of thousands to millions of people returning from exile.. By following there we can picture what the situation was that Isaiah and the Israelites were facing.
Arise, shine; for your light has come. If there is some thing has held you back in darkness, the light shines and we are encouraged to build.
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