No longer will the sun be your light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not shine on you; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor.
I. FOR US GOD MAY BE THE LIGHT OF THE MATERIAL WORLD. To let ourselves be so engrossed with business affairs that there is no room for God in thought, or heart, or life, is to lose the everlasting light - to be unable to see God in common everyday things. It is hardly conceivable that any man could wish to have this fair earth with its vales and hills, without the gilding beautifying sunshine. O poor earth, dull and dead, like sunless winter in Arctic climes! And yet thousands are willing to have this earth of material relationships without the sunshine of God. Exactly what men want, but do not know that they want, is God their everlasting Light. Common life, with him, is lived in the sunshine.
II. FOR US GOD MAY BE THE LIGHT OF THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD. In our day he is only allowed to shine intermittently in this world, and there are many who would blot him out of this sky if they could. Others, who would not go so far as that, would gladly make a thick, foggy atmosphere of their own wisdom, through which he can only shine dimly. We shall never get the full glory of the treasures of the intellectual world until we let the revealing rays of the "everlasting light" fall everywhere upon them.
III. FOR US GOD MAY BE THE LIGHT OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. Indeed, there is no light at all in the spiritual world if he does not shine. And the one thing above all others which they crave after who dwell in that spiritual world is the full, constant, unshaded, glowing, life-renewing power of the everlasting Light. - R.T.
The sun shall be no more thy light by day.
(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)
(E. Paxton Hood.)
(E. Paxton Hood.)
1. Take the instance of wealth. There are some men who can do without being rich — plenty of men who have to, but some men who can, can easily, can without discontent or trouble. They love comfort and respectability as much as these their neighbours. What is the difference? Simply this, that they have found that comfort and respectability, while money is their natural symbol, are not dependent upon money, and that one may reach past the symbol, and take the reality, and let the symbol go.
2. Or take another symbol. Praise is good. To be applauded by our fellow. men, to hear our ambitions about ourselves caught up by their testifying cheers, to have our own best hopes for our own lives confirmed by their appreciation of us, that is a true delight for any man. To be able to do without men's praise because we do not feel its value, because morosely and selfishly we do not care what men think, that is bad; that is a sign of feebleness and conceit. To feel it is wretched, and to affect to feel it is detestable. But to be able to do without men's praise because that which their praise stands for is dearer to us than the praise is, and it so happens that we cannot have both of them, that is a wholly different thing. Men's praise stands for goodness. Every man feels that if it does not mean that, if it is "given to iniquity just aa freely as to goodness, praise loses all its value. Praise is the symbol; goodness is the reality.
3. So it runs everywhere. The symbols of the deeper pleasures are the mere animal indulgences — eating and drinking, the lusts of the flesh. They stand for intellectual and spiritual joys. How natural their symbolism is. The Bible talks of "hungering and thirsting after righteousness.'" David says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Jesus tells His disciples about "eating His flesh and drinking His blood." The superficial emotions of the senses stand for and represent the profound emotions of the soul. In the, harmonious life the two will live in harmony. The symbol and reality, the body's and the soul's enjoyment, will be complete together. But when in this unharmonious life which we live the symbol and reality come into unnatural conflict, when either the soul must be, sacrificed to the body or the body to the soul, he who really knows what the soul's happiness is does not hesitate. Here is the power of true self-sacrifice; here is the secret which takes out of it all the bitterness and brutality. Always it is the giving up of a symbol that you may have the reality. In the great sacrifice of all, Christ lays down His life, but it is that He may take it again. Do you think that Christ did not care for life and all that makes life beautiful to us? Surely He did; but He cared more for that which they represent — the living purely, the doing of His Father's will, and the serving of His brethren.
4. I am very much impressed by the truth of all this as concerns the Christian Church. She has her symbols and her ordinances, and she has her true and inner life. Her outward ways of living really belong with her inward power. In a perfectly harmonious world there never could be any conflict. In heaven the outward and the inward Church shall absolutely correspond; but here and now the Church may be so set upon her symbols and her regularities that she shall fail of doing her most perfect work and living her most perfect life. The Christian may be so bound to rites and ceremonies that he loses the God to whom they ought to bring him near. Here it certainly is true that no symbol is doing its true work unless it is educating those who use it to do without itself if need be.
(E. Paxton Hood.)1. First you will ask, How can I tell the symbol from the reality, and so know what things it is good to hold less and less, what things it is good to hold more and more indispensable? It is not easy to give the answer in a rule. But the answer no doubt lies in a certain feeling of spirituality and infiniteness and eternity, which belongs to those things which it is good for a man not to be able to do without. Those things which serve the soul rather than the body, those which serve the whole of us and not one special part, and those which can serve us longest — those are the things which we want to make more and more indispensable. Those things whose usefulness belongs mainly to the body, those things which help some part of us and not the whole, and those things whose use is temporal — it is not good for any of us to have to say, "I cannot do without these things. This is, perhaps, the nearest that we can come to rules; but he who lives in the spirit of these rules acquires a certain sort of feeling of the infiniteness of some things and the finiteness of others, so that renown, wealth, dignity, sympathy, comfort, friendship, amusement, life, stand on one side; and honour, truth, bravery, purity, love, eternity, God, stand on the other. These last he must have. Those others he can do without. The moment that he touches any new gift he can tell to which order it belongs.
2. But then you say, What then? When I have felt this difference, when I know what things I must not allow to become indispensable to me, what shall I do then? Shall I throw all those things away? Shall I strip my life instantly of all that is not indispensable, and live only in those things which I cannot live without? No; certainly not. That effort to cast away the symbol as soon as it was seen to be a symbol has been the source of much religious unhappiness and failure, and of much of the wrong kind of separation between religious and irreligious life. Not to give up the symbol, but to hold it as a symbol, with that looser grasp which lets its inner reality escape into us, and at the same time makes us always ready to let it go when the reality shall have wholly opened from it, that is the true duty of the Christian as concerns the innocent things of the world. That was the way in which Jesus always seemed to be holding friendship, home, nature, and His own human life; never grasping them so tightly that their spiritual meanings might not come forth from them freely, nor that He could not give them up when a higher vocation summoned Him.
3. And that brings us to the last question. How shall I come to count nothing indispensable but what I really ought to, what I really cannot do without? The answer to that question is in Christ, who holds the answers of all our questions for us. As I read the Gospels I can see how, little by little, Jesus lifted those disciples past one conception of necessity after another, until at last they knew nothing that was absolutely necessary except God. They began as fishermen who could not do without their nets and boats and houses and fishing friends and sports and gains and gossipings. He carried them up till they were crying, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us."
(E. Paxton Hood.)
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