Arise! Shine! For your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1
For several years I read through Oswald Chambers’s devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, and greatly benefited from it. Times are, however, he goes badly wrong, and his comment on this verse is one example of that. He begins by writing,
We have to take the first step as though there were no God. It is no use to wait for God to help us, He will not; but immediately we arise we find He is there.
Chambers quoted only the first two words of this verse in his devotional thought. The rest of the verse is necessary to understand the imperatives given to Israel. Man is able to arise and shine because the light of God has already come to him and the divine splendor has risen like the sun to illuminate his day.
The first command to arise calls Israel to rouse herself from her stupor. This third section of Isaiah, 56-66, sees beyond the exile to the restoration, to a people returned to a devastated country, a destroyed temple, a world in shambles. To a broken spirit. Their return may be dulled by the reality of their situation.
But, no! Isaiah will not have it. God’s glory is focused on them. It is not time for mourning, but shining. The shining of the city (metaphor for the people) is to serve the nations who come to the light. It is the light of salvation. The people of God are called to shine forth as God’s beacon.
My mind ties this verse together with Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven” (NET).
At the top of the list of good deeds is the proclamation of the gospel, just as Jesus was doing during that moment of teaching on the mount.
The verse has inspired a number of hymns, among them, “All Ye Gentile Lands Awake.” Here’s the first stanza:
All ye Gentile lands awake!
Thou, O Salem, rise and shine!
See the day-spring o’er you break,
Heralding a morn divine,
Telling, God hath called to mind
Those who long in darkness pined.