Bright and Merry – Isaiah 60
This message is the second message in our Merry and Bright series.
Christmas is just a little over 2 weeks away, and on that morning your kids, the one that you’ve struggle to wake up every school day for the past semester will suddenly be morning people! They’ll be up earlier than usual because they are excited.
They’ve been eyeing the gifts under the tree or they’ve been hoping for Santa to bring them a special present and on that morning, the wait will be over! It will be the fulfillment of the promise…Today we are going to see a very similar scenario in Isaiah 60.
Isaiah is a prophet who preached to a nation undergoing judgment. They are undergoing punishment. They have turned from God and they are experiencing what everyone who faces the world without God experiences…They are beaten by the Assyrians and then the Assyrians are beaten by the Babylonians….They are taken into exile, but Isaiah also gets the gift of prophesying of the day when they would come home. He get’s to look forward to the day that everything will be made whole again. In his prophesies he tells the people how to respond once they’ve been freed, but he also very clearly points to homecomings that are still even farther yet into the future. We have some very clear references to Christ’s life, sacrifice, resurrection, and his final return and establishment of a new heaven and earth…
In Isaiah 60 we have Isaiah’s message to the Jewish people after their homecoming and to us after Christ’s arrival. He writes to us who have awoken to realize Christmas has come, or that Christ has come.
Let’s look at Isaiah 60:1-3
When we come to Christmas, there are many traditions that center around light. We put lights on our trees and on our houses. Now we have projector that shoot light at our homes so it look like wave put lights on our houses…
On Christmas Eve we’ll worship and celebrate together by candle light…
When we read the Christmas story we see that as Jesus was born in Bethlehem just outside of the town the night sky is filled with the “Glory of the Lord” as a host of angels deliver a message to the shepherds.
We also read of Magi, men who studied the sky, who follow a very bright star which leads them eventually to the very house where little Jesus is living.
When Jesus’ close friend and follower wrote out his biography of Jesus’ life, death, and life again he refers to Jesus as light.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not.
9 That was the true Light,
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Christmas is a celebration of light because Christ is the light.
On the first Sunday of 1899 Charles Spurgeon stood to preach in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and spoke of the brightness of the glory of God.
He said, I must confess that I’m out of my depth here…
I see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,
but to describe it is quite impossible.
When I first saw the electric light, if you had asked me what it was like, I could have only told you something about its candle-power or its brilliance in comparison with gas, but I could not have made you understand it.
But what is the electric light compared with the glory of the sun to one who sees it for the first time?
And what are all the suns that could ever be created compared with the wondrous blaze of the glory of God?
Yet such a marvelous light as that has fallen upon you, my brother, my sister—“the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
In the classic, best selling Christmas song, White Christmas we are wished Merry and Bright days, but I declare to you that in Christ we have the hope of both Merry Hearts and Bright Lives!
It is for that Reason that Isaiah proclaims to the Jews and to us,
Arise! Wake up!
Your light has come!
I want us to start with this opening word, ARISE!
Like children on Christmas morning, trying to raise their parents from bed so they can begin to open presents, Isaiah says, WAKE UP!
I feel this is an appropriate command when I look around and I see the town decorated with Christmas lights, with lights on houses, and decorated trees in windows, when I hear the Christmas music in the gas station, I look around and like a kid on Christmas morning who stands in the living room, knowing the day has come, looking at the tree, but everyone is sleeping…
Everything has come together, yet we sleep…
Everything has happened just as Isaiah said it would, Jesus came, the light has arrived, yet we still sleep! Wake up!
I not only feel this in the community at large, I feel this need to call us out of our slumber…
We worship as though we have physically just gotten out of bed, but spiritually as though we still slumber.
ARISE! The light has come!
Like a child on Christmas morning, I want to say to you,
Wake up, there are all these wonderful gifts God has given us, yet they still sit at the foot of the tree, the cross, unopened.
Christ has purchased them, placed our names upon them, yet they still sit unclaimed because we still sleep!
Isaiah’s second command is to shine because the light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us…
The order is important, because we need to see that cause and effect. We shine because he has arrived. We shine because the glory of the Lord has dawned.
We shine because of his light- we do not create the light.
We do not produce the light, we respond to the light, we shine because of the light, we reflect the light!
We are able to shine or be bright because he shines the light upon us. We are able to reflect the light because he shines so brightly upon us…
The neighborhood where we lived in Nashville when I was boy had a Nazarene church in it. In their gym they had racks of roller skates and on Friday nights in the summer they would invite the kids of the neighborhood to come skating.
I had been to roller skating rinks and I thought just roller skating in a church gym was kind of lame, but I went with my friends one time. After everyone had their skate they turned off the gym lights and flicked on one light that was pointed to a mirror ball, often called a disco ball.
The mirror ball had been there in the rafters of the gym all along, but I had never noticed it… When the light shined on it and it refracted and reflected beams of light all over that gym, suddenly that gym felt just like a skating rink…
The mirror ball had been there all along, but with the combination of the darkness and the bright shining light directed at the hundreds of reflecting panels on that ball…
Israel was not called to be the light, to produce the light, they were called to arise and shine for the light had dawned upon them.
The same is true for us, we are merely called to reflect the light that Christ brings into our lives. When Christ shines brightly onto us, the reflection is powerful.
The brightness of the light coming off of us depends on the brightness of the light shining on us.
Verse 2 and 3 make this clear.
Darkness will come upon the earth and gross darkness upon the people. This isn’t just an absence of the sun, this isn’t just natural light not shining on the earth, this is darkness on the earth and gross darkness upon the people.
Thick darkness or a heavy fog, dense…
2…but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Sailors mark their course in the sea by the stars of the sky because they are constant- there are people who have not yet marked their lives by you, but they will if you remain constant.
The constancy of their shining makes the navigation by shining light so effective…
The Glory appears and the light shines, people will come.
There is a before and after here…
Verse 30 – your light will never set, it is up forevermore…
We are mourning the loss of several from our first generation of believers in Faith Church- but by God’s help we will remain a bright witness in this community.
We will continue to lift up the light that was first held high by them- we will keep the lanterns they lit held high…
To appreciate what this would mean to the Jews you need to remember what they’re going through. They are captives. Exiles.
They have been conquered. Kings have come to them to conquer them and carried them away as slaves.
Now Isaiah says theres coming a day when the Kings will come to you because of the light God has poured upon you…
The end of Isaiah is full of hope. It is hope of the day when the light arrives. When the desire of nations comes.
When Immanuel appears. When the Messiah reigns…
The hope of that light…
19The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
20Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
I must admit I was pretty disheartened this week. There were a combination of factors, exhaustion, a difficult phone call, and then visiting with one of our saints who will not be with us much longer.
I broke down and cried…
Studying Isaiah 60 encouraged me, because it strikes me that light keeps traveling through darkness for years and years…
We know that the light that sailors navigate their course by has travelled across the galaxy for ages…
From Rob Morgan:
In 1517, Martin Luther sparked the Reformation.
But a hundred years later, Lutheranism itself needed revival.
God raised up Philipp Spener, an educator who became pastor in Berlin. He called people back to the individual study of the Bible and to devotion to God. His revival was called Pietism.
But he faced savage criticism and was often discouraged.
One day Spener met a young man named August Francke who was struggling, and Spener mentored him. Francke went on to become a professor with humanitarian concern. In the city of Halle, he established an orphanage.
One hundred years later, a young man named George Mueller studied at the University of Halle and spent two months in Francke’s orphanage.
He was deeply impressed, and later in the city of Bristol, England, he established a similar ministry.
Many books were written about Mueller, and a few years ago my daughter’s family read one. A conviction came to their hearts that they, too, should minister to orphans.
They took in a little brother and sister, who have become our grandchildren, numbers 15 and 16.
Just last week they met with all of the family in the courthouse in Nashville for the adoption to be made final.
When Rob Morgan’s daughter and husband had explained to the boy and girl that they would have their name changed to the parents names, the little girl said, can I change my name too?
They said, oh yes honey, both you and your brother will take our name. You’ll both have your names changed.
No, can I change my name. My first name.
I’d like to be called hope.
Philipp Spener didn’t see most of the results of his work, and he battled discouragement.
Yet look at what God has wrought. Four hundred years later, Katrina and I have a new grandchildren through a chain reaction that goes back to Mueller, Francke, and Spener, we have our little Hope.
The celebration of Christmas is the celebration of the arrival of the light, which reflected down the hall of mirrors called time until it reflected through a little church in Oklahoma where my Grandfather on my mother’s side came to know Christ and also through NC Carolina where my father’s mother was raised worshipping Christ and it has reflected off of them into my life, and while time takes mirror after mirror, it can not move at the speed of that light…