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Monday, December 22, 2014

A Light to the Nations – A Messianic Prophecy

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” – Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV)

This prophecy has a two-fold emphasis. The Messiah, who is the Light to all nations, will come. Then, because He has come, God will put His light and beauty upon the people, attracting the nations to the Light of Christ. Jesus said during His earthly ministry, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32, ESV). He spoke of the death whereby He would die as a sacrifice for our sins; the cross is a sign beckoning all people to come to redemption and faith in Him.

Isaiah foresees the glory of all of God’s people being united under the Light. The bright future of God’s people calls for faith and action. We cannot stand dormant in the Light. “The Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen in you” (v. 2) indicates that God will make a clear distinction between His own people and those who still remain in darkness, those who have not acknowledged Him.

But those with the Light have an obligation to bear His light.

The fulfillment of this prophecy from Isaiah was spoken by Simeon when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem when he was forty days old. There old Simeon blessed Jesus and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32, ESV). Imagine the joy old Simeon had in seeing and holding the Son of God! He had been promised the privilege of doing so before his death, and the occasion of Jewish purification of Mary and child was the event that linked the prophecy to the fulfillment Simeon was experiencing. This is another example of how God fulfills what He promises.

Jesus’ declaration can be true for all His followers: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, ESV). He furthermore told us to be lights for Him: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV). To be light is to wield positive influence. We speak of coming to the light of the truth. A single candle can banish the darkness in a room. Likewise, a Christian life, lived under the direction, influence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ can make an untold difference in lighting others to Him for salvation. It is every Christian’s calling to come to the Light and to reflect His light.

Lord, Christmas was filled with light. The star shone to lead Wise Men to Jesus at Bethlehem. “The glory of the Lord” that surrounded the shepherds as they heard the announcement by the angels of the Savior’s birth was accompanied by a great light. And Jesus, the Light of the world, tells us, “You are the light of the world!” Let us arise, shine, for our light is come!” In December in most of our churches, we have a double emphasis: remembering the coming of the Lord Christ to earth, and fulfilling his commission to “go, tell, share, bear light to others!” May we be faithful! Amen. –Ethelene Dyer Jones 12.14.2014.

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