Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
This verse always evokes memories of my mother rousting me out of bed for school on cold winter mornings with these encouraging words from Scripture, but these words are more than motivators for facing a new day. On this eve of Rosh Hashanah, (September 16, 2012), they indeed offer hope for the coming Kingdom of God.
The command is given to “arise” in preparation to move forward as when God commanded Joshua: “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:2). The children of Israel had lost the only leader they had ever known, and now Joshua had some pretty big sandals to fill as the new leader of Israel. What lay ahead was filled with uncertainty. His only strength and sense of security was based solely on the promise of God.
Gideon was given a similar command: “And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand” (Judges 7:9). Gideon was not a warrior. In fact, when our Lord first called upon him and said, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12), Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding from the Midianites. I can imagine Gideon looking around and saying, “Who? Me?” Yet, through a series of tests, Gideon learned to trust God’s leading, and, with just a small handful of men, defeat the Midianites who had been oppressing his people.
Sometimes the battle is spiritual: “But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? (2 Kings 1:3). Speaking truth in a hostile environment is never easy, yet the boldness to do so came not from within Elijah, but from his dependence on God.
In these days, we are seeing a growing antagonism toward Christians, and it only promises to get worse, as the days of His return draw ever closer. Whatever the call, we are instructed to “shine” as luminaries in the darkness that covers all the earth (Isaiah 60:2) “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). We can shine “for [our] light has come.” We shine not in our own strength, “but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (v. 2). The promise is not futuristic; it is present: “the glory of the LORD is [now, in the present] risen upon thee.” So, rise and shine!