Isaiah 60: "Arise, Shine"
Primary and Junior
The pictures of life in Palestine presented to us by Amos, Hosea, Joel, Isaiah (in the first thirty-nine chapters), Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah are, for the most part, sad and unpleasant. They reveal the degrading social evils which were slowly but surely destroying the worship of the Lord, and bringing ruin on the people. Israel was the first to suffer for her waywardness (722 B.C.). Judah refused to profit by that lesson, and sank deeper and deeper in evil. Prophet after prophet was sent to them by the Lord to reprove them and call for repentance, but all in vain! Judah followed her downward course until the crash came in 586 B.C. Then follow the days of remorse and reflection in captivity. They are lightened by words of instruction and comfort from Ezekiel and Isaiah. Isaiah consoles them with the promise of release. Their deliverer, Cyrus, is on his way to free them. The deliverance is delayed. There is a lull. Is it not to be? Surely! The prophet spoke from the Lord. Therefore, relief comes at length. And now the beloved city of David is in view!
The night is gone. The eastern sun has leaped up above the horizon. The landscape is flooded immediately with light. And there lies the city before them in all its glory. It is not the ruined city. It is, as it were, a vision of the new city which they are about to build on the old foundations. "The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the nations, and that their kings may be brought." (Verses 11, 12)
The prophet pictures the city as the center of the world to which all nations flow, and to which all people bring their wealth. First, there is the influx from the east. Caravans pour in from Midian, Ephah, and Sheba, with their wealth, and droves of sheep cover the narrow roads leading to the Holy City. Then, from the west, come floating over the sunlit seas the bright white sails of the well-laden vessels like "doves to their windows" bringing silver and gold.
The sanctuary shall also be built. And Lebanon shall again help to beautify the house of worship. Everyone who afflicted or despised the city shall be humbled. The place shall be filled with joyous inhabitants. "Violence shall no more be heard in the land." The Lord shall be their light. All mourning shall cease. They shall all be righteous, and shall inherit the land for ever.
How buoyant the feelings! How great the expectations! The relief from bondage is so deep, the heart's joy knows no bounds!
Even such is the happiness of the mind when the crisis in a severe illness is past, and the patient is convalescing. The hopes for the future are bright and cheering. Likewise when temptations are over. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." When the devil left the Lord, "behold angels came and ministered to Him."
In temptations, the security and peace of the church in a person is threatened. When it is the evil of the love of ruling from the love of self that assails, its nature is more and more clearly seen as the temptation proceeds. The essential characteristics are depicted in the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity. This evil destroys the church within and holds the soul in bondage. The promises of the restoration from this captivity through Amos, Hosea, etc., are but expressions of hope which sustains the soul as the shades of night gather round it. But this chapter is expressive of the hope on the verge of its realization; hence the great joy that pervades every verse in it. "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." The Lord has come. The darkness has been dispelled. The church is being restored, and all that can be brought even from the ends of the earth shall come to minister unto the Lord. "Then thou shalt see and be lightened, and thine heart shall tremble and be enlarged." (Verse 5, R. V.) Then everything that is good shall minister to the restored church. The camels shall bring gold and silver. Camels are animals of travel or beasts of burden. They represent the love of understanding natural truth or general principles of truth (A. 3048), such truth as was expressed by John the Baptist who was clothed in camel's hair and lived in the desert. This love brings to people the knowledge of the laws of life - the golden and silver rules of conduct. Innocent affections also come forth to the worship and praise of the Lord.
The church will receive all who are even in the least degree of truth, who are "in the shade of truth." (P. P., verse 8) They will enter the church, and will continually approach it because there is salvation. (Verses 9-12) "The spiritual-moral will draw near, even those who had not known the Lord before." (Verses 13, 14; P. P.) The trees - cedars, fir, pine, and box - are thus likened to people. (A. 10183: Life 46) The quality of the person is according to the use of the tree. The above are valuable and less valuable timber trees (A. 9405), used for building walls, for floors, doors and boxes. There are people who perform just such uses for the church of the Lord, to protect, introduce into, and preserve the sacred things of religion.
"And I will make the place of My feet glorious." The Word in its letter is full of glory when seen in its new light after regeneration. (R. 470: E. 600) The Lord's life, what He has done for humanity, is radiant with beauty. A light streams front the pages of the Divine Word so strong that the eyes can scarce behold it steadily. (S. 73)
The subsequent verses depict the joy of the life of heaven. There will be no further inclination to pervert the truth. The love of the Lord will rise supreme above every other love in the heart, and reign there forever. It is not quite here, but very nearly realized. "I the Lord will hasten it in its time."
Read Isa. 60, noting the likeness in many places to the description of the Holy City in Rev. 20-21, and feeling the abundant joy in the assurance of realization. "Arise, shine," reminds us of the Lord's birth in Bethlehem, but it will have further fulfillment as the Lord is more fully known. The assembling of the peoples and the treasures of the earth represents the tribute of all natural things as they find their right relation to the Lord and spiritual life. The ships coming from afar are likened to the dove, a beautiful figure for a still more beautiful spiritual thought. (A. 3708; R. 901) With verse 11, read Rev. 21:24-26. Each quality of life more internal and more external will make worship of the Lord more perfect. (Verse 13) Each lower thing shall find a higher value. (Verse 17) No violence shall be heard. The sunshine of the Lord is over all. (See Rev. 21:23 and 22:5.) Each little thing living from the Lord unfolds unending possibilities of good. That the Lord will hasten it in His time, means certainty of fulfillment.