Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen on you.…
With other eyes than ours the Jews must have read these glowing words. They saw in them a fascinating picture of a triumphant people; they saw the Jerusalem of their knowledge and of their love made strong and glorious in some coming time. Their patriotic hopes were kindled and must have been raised to a white heat of intensity as they dwelt on the gladdening, transporting promise. In the midst of surrounding darkness covering the whole earth (ver. 2), Zion shines forth with a light which proceeds from nothing less than the Divine Presence itself (vers. 1, 2). Attracted by its radiant beams, her exiled sons and daughters return from the strange lands whither they have gone into captivity, while from every quarter the wealth of Gentile nations flows to her feet. She trembles for very joy, her heart expands with the fulness of its emotion, as she welcomes her children to her heart, as she receives these treasures into her gates (vers. 4-6). The produce of other lands is laid on the altar of Jehovah, and brightens the lustre of that glorious house (ver. 7). Precious tribute is brought from distant coasts (ver. 9), and they who once contemptuously humiliated her, now build up the walls of her strength and find their safety in her service (vers. 10-12, 14). In place of saddest desolation and signs of Divine departure shall be proofs of national supremacy and the recovered favour of the Lord (vers. 15, 16). The excellences of earlier days will be eclipsed by the future splendour; the rude arm of force shall give place to the gentle hand of righteousness; the salvation of Jehovah shall surround the city; and songs of praise shall be on the lips of the citizens (vers. 17, 18). The light of noon in all its radiance is but a picture of the glory which will rest upon her in the abiding presence of Jehovah; and joy, rectitude, and enlargement will be her blessed portion (vers. 20-22). There may be intervening days before this is realized; but when the hour is reached for it to come, the Lord will hasten its arrival. But "God fulfils himself in many ways;" he redeems his promises to us otherwise than we hope and even confidently expect. Jerusalem has never attained, and is not likely to realize, the prosperity and power here depicted; in some other way than that of national glory must we look for the fulfilment of this brilliant vision. We shall find it in the triumph of the Church of Christ, of the "Israel of God," which the Divine Redeemer has lived and died to establish. The features of this "golden age," as thus realized, are indicated in the text; they are -
I. THE EXALTATION OF THE DIVINE. Its glory will be manifestly the "glory of the Lord" (vers. 1, 2). And everything is to work for the exaltation of Christ (vers. 20, 21). Whatever does not aim at this or make for this is alien, intrusive, harmful.
II. THE POSSESSION OF VITAL PRINCIPLES. (Ver. 12.) All that opposes itself to those truths and principles of which the Church of Christ is the exponent and depository will fail and perish.
III. PERFECT ACCESSIBILITY. (Ver. 11.) Its gates are never to be shut. The Church which is exclusive, the Christian society which is repelling, the minister or messenger of Christ who is forbidding, the message which does not welcome the wandering, bears on the face of it a decisive condemnation.
IV. TRIUMPH OVER ITS BITTEREST ENEMIES. (Vers. 10, 14, 15.) Those who smote and scorned shall acknowledge its heavenly origin, and their lips shall utter the redeeming truth; their own hands shall build the walls of Zion.
V. THE INCOMING OF THE REMOTEST. (Vers. 6, 8, 9.)
1. Those most distant in space. They shall seek entrance who come from furthest latitudes, whose language, laws, customs, are most strange.
2. Those most distant in spirit - they who have been farthest from God, dwelling in the thickest and grossest darkness with which the land has been covered (ver. 2).
VI. LAYING ALL THINGS UNDER TRIBUTE. NOt only the glory of nature (ver. 18), but also the greatness of mankind (ver. 16); fairest and finest fruits of the field, and the proudest products of society, shall minister to its strength and promote its cause.
VII. SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE KINGDOM AND GLORY OF CHRIST. (Ver. 7.) As the flocks and herds of Kedar and Nabathea would add something, by their novelty and peculiarity, to the glories of the temple; so will the especial characteristics of Christian converts, of the Englishman, of the Italian, of the Indian, of the Chinaman, etc., contribute to the glories of the Church: so will "the imagination of the East, the passion of the South, the vigour of the North, and the enterprise of the West," bring their own tribute to the glory of Christ.
VIII. THE PREVALENCE OF PEACE. (Vers. 17, 18.)
IX. THE REIGN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Vers. 17, 21.)
X. EVER-ENLARGING PROSPERITY. (Vers. 17, 22.) The special lessons to be learnt from this description of the Church triumphant are:
1. That in all matters pertaining to the kingdom of God, it is his glory that should be sedulously kept in view.
2. That the Church of Christ must expect to prove an attractive power in the midst of encompassing evil.
3. That it must address itself to the restoration and acquisition of those that seem least likely to be gained.
4. That each community should consider what is the particular contribution it can bring to adorn the doctrine and strengthen the cause of its Master.
5. That the Church should be incessantly active in its holy mission.
6. That it should take care that moral Had spiritual excellency marks it course as well as numerical growth and the brilliancy of its conquests.
7. That it must maintain the attitude of devout expectancy and holy gratitude, remembering that all its strength and hope are in "the Lord, its Saviour and its Redeemer." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.