Lenten Devotional

March 14, 2018

All Day

Category: Adult Education

Isaiah 60:15-22

Arise and Shine!

“Arise and shine, get up, make a move!” We have all heard and spoken these words, but the fact is that very often the “talk” is not followed by the “walk.”

Isaiah knew only too well what he was talking about. He had talked and walked as a prophet, and tried to move mountains to get Israel to act according to God’s will. In this passage Isaiah speaks about the past, present and the future. In the past, Israel was hated. But in the present Israel will change. The Lord will become an everlasting light so that his people will not need the sun. In the future, the least and the smallest will become mighty, a force to be reckoned with. Even though God’s people were rebellious and, as a consequence, are now under siege, God will deliver his people from mourning. We can understand what Isaiah meant – the arrival of the Messiah and beyond that, the Second Coming.

But at the time, before the Savior walked this earth, Israel was under the burden of exile, slavery and brutality at the hands of their enemies. So how did these words sound to them at the time? Peace, instead of war and violence? Instead of walls being destroyed, walls are to be called Salvation? Gates not opened to barbarians will be called Praise? And how do we hear them? This is a message that should not go unheard in today’s broken world.

These ancient Bible verses seem to refer to a distant people, far away in the east, but come uncomfortably close to home upon closer reading. We – you and I here today – are that rebellious people. Even here, where we seem so far from war, we fight battles; we live under the yoke of stress, caused by all the factors that belong to modern life. But we also forget to turn to God, we forget to glorify him in all we do. If our walls and gates do not offer salvation or praise, but are used to shut off our neighbors, and those less fortunate than ourselves, we have completely misunderstood God’s promise.

Oh yes, we could certainly use a Son who will be our everlasting light, by day and night. But Isaiah goes beyond pointing us to our Savior: he gives us a task. We should know that he is our Redeemer. All that he promises will come to be true, but we must follow him. We have a clear responsibility in the light of our redemption. We should bow at the bottom of the Cross and then start walking in the footsteps of the Rabbi. If he makes peace, we should be the bringers of peace to the world. If we preach peace to others but keep violent thoughts in our head, if we sing songs of praise but listen only to our own voice, we will remain forsaken and hated. We bring that upon ourselves. But if we turn to him, the sun will not go down on us. The Mighty One of Jacob will make us majestic, and his light will shine on us – forever.  Amen!

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