Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen on you.…
The words of the text comprise an exhortation to "arise " and "shine"; and a reason to enforce it, — "thy light is come, the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
I. THE REASON. There is such a connection between ignorance and darkness, that the one is constantly put for the other in Scripture. If ignorance is justly termed darkness, so knowledge is properly compared to light. At the dawn of day, the traveller takes fresh courage; he perceives the path in which he should go, and proceeds on it rejoicing. In the same manner religious knowledge enlightens a man as to his true business in this life, and sets him to work out His salvation. And Christ is the Sun which sends forth this religious knowledge.
1. The sun, when it rises in the morning, dispels all clouds and mists and clews, and shows every object in its true colours. So, without that light which Christ has furnished by His Gospel, we cannot perceive those truths which it is most needful we should perceive.
2. The sun, when it shines above us, does more than enlighten every object. It nourishes, it invigorates. Without it, the sickly plant droops and decays, and brings no fruit to perfection. And the effect of the sun upon outward nature is a striking emblem of the influence of Christ upon the heart. In Him is life, vigorous, spiritual life; and the life is the light of men.
II. THE EXHORTATION. "Arise, shine."
1. When the sun rises, and scatters the mists of night, he gives a summons to mankind to rise also, and set themselves to the discharge of their various duties. In the same manner, the appearance of Christ in the world is a summons to all who hear of His revelation, to "arise." To awake out of the sleep of ignorance, the sleep of thoughtlessness, the sleep of sin, which are, in truth, the sleep of death; and to apply themselves, before "the night cometh in which no man can work," to the business which God has appointed them to perform both for themselves and for Him.
2. The text requires that you not only "arise," but that you "shine." That Christ has risen in the world is nothing, unless He illuminates your hearts also. When the sun is up, and shines brightly upon any object, that which before was dark shines too; receives a brilliancy not its own, not natural to it. So is it likewise, when Christ illuminates the heart. It takes a new colouring, a light which by nature it had not. Enlightened by the Gospel, the simple becomes wise, and acquires the knowledge which is most truly valuable — the knowledge of duty towards God and man. Enlightened by the Gospel, he who was selfish and covetous is made liberal, and abounds in the feelings of brotherly kindness, and in the works of charity. Enlightened by the Gospel, he who was sensual becomes temperate and pure, and "lets his moderation be known unto all men." The "lover of this world becomes a "lover of God," and "sets his affections on things above." In this way the light which has shone upon them is reflected in their conduct, and is visible in their whole character. The sun shines; but some objects still continue dark and gloomy. Between them and the sun's light other objects interpose, and prevent his beams from shining upon them. And so it is in the world of grace.
(J. B. Sumner, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.