************ Sermon on Isaiah 60:1-3 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 16, 2001
"Carriers of the Light"
Church School Program/Candlelight Service - 2001
A When the prophet Isaiah looks at the world he lives in he sees so much darkness.
(Is 60:2) See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples ...A dark darkness, a thick darkness.
How dark was this darkness? Think of Good Friday. For three hours, when Jesus hung on the cross, darkness descended upon the land during midday. An unnatural darkness, a deep darkness, a thick darkness, a darkness without the glory of the presence of God.
Things were not quite this dark during the days of Isaiah, yet it was still a dark time in the history of Israel.
(Is 60:2) See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples ...
B To be in "darkness" means to not know God and the things of God; it means to be ignorant of divine things. I think of the complaint the Lord Himself makes through the prophets:
(Is 1:3) The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.In other words, the people are dumber than cattle and donkeys because these animals, at least, know their master. Or, this word from Hosea:
(Hos 4:6) ... my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.Because of ignorance of God and the things of God people fall into sin, error, and falsehood.
C To live in darkness also means to do the shameful deeds of darkness: sexual immorality, impurity, greed, theft, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, falsehood, slander, bitterness, rage, brawling, and malice (cf Eph 4:25-5:12).
D To live in darkness means many other things: idolatry, injustice, oppression, and so on. Let me add one more thing: to live in darkness means you want nothing to do with the light. Says John at the beginning of the Gospel,
(Jn 1:5) The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(Jn 3:19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
The world lives in darkness. So the world wants nothing to do with the light. In fact, it fears the light. It fears the light because it shows the darkness for what it is.
Subtopic: Of the Word of God
Title: A Closer Look
Many years ago, while on a visit to America, a wealthy Chinese businessman was fascinated by a powerful microscope. Looking through its lens to study crystals and the petals of flowers, he was amazed at their beauty and detail. So he decided to purchase one of these devices and take it back to China. He thoroughly enjoyed using it until one day he examined some rice he was planning to eat for dinner. Much to his dismay, he discovered that tiny living creatures were crawling in it. Since he was especially fond of this staple food in his daily diet, he wondered what to do. Finally he concluded that there was only one way out of his dilemma -- he would destroy the instrument that caused him to discover the distasteful fact! So he smashed the microscope to pieces. "How foolish!" you say. But many people do the same thing with the light of the Gospel. They hate it and would like to get rid of it because it reveals their evil nature.
E I think we all recognize that our world lives in darkness too. So many of our friends and neighbors and co-workers live without God and Christ in their lives, they live immoral and godless lives filled with the fruit of darkness, and they are hostile to the Light of the Gospel.
A The whole book of Isaiah is a mixture of gloom and glory. So, in our text, Isaiah goes from light to darkness to light again:
(Is 60:1-2) "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. (2) See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Two times, I want you to notice, Isaiah talks about light as "glory."
In the Hebrew language the word for glory has the meaning of being weighty or important. God certainly is weighty or important. He is the center of our lives. It is only in Him that we live and move and have our being. In fact, if we were to take God out of our lives for even a millisecond, or out of this world, or out of the universe, do you know what would happen? If God were to be removed for even a millisecond we would cease to exist, this world would crumble, and the universe would collapse and disappear. That's how important, how weighty, God is.
According to Isaiah, this weighty presence of God has appeared. God has come with all the weight of His glory. He has come in all His brilliance and splendor. Isaiah sees the light and glory of God coming upon Jerusalem. Like a blazing sun, the glory of the Lord has risen upon Jerusalem, bathing it in His full and glaring light.
B How bright is the light and glory of God? Throughout the ages, different people have come face-to-face with this glory of God.
Remember Moses on the top of Mount Sinai? He wanted to see the glory of God. He begged to see the glory of God. So the Lord caused the glory of His presence to pass by Moses (Ex 33:12-23). Now, some of the Lord's glory rubbed off on to Moses – so much so that the people complained that Moses was too bright to look at so he had to cover his face with a veil (Ex 34:29-35).
Do you remember the time Isaiah the prophet received his commission from God? In some kind of dream or vision Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah saw seraphs or angels flying around the presence of God; and, he heard them sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the door posts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. After this Isaiah was convinced that he was going to die because he, a man of unclean lips – that is, he a sinner – had seen the glory of the Lord (Is 6:5).
B Having said this, we need to realize that the glory of God is especially displayed in the history of salvation.
Remember the burning pillar of fire that was in front of Israel in the wilderness? The glory of the Lord was in that pillar of fire. The glory of God's presence threw the Egyptians into confusion. The glory of God's presence in the pillar of fire also led the people safely through the wilderness. (Ex 13 & 14). We see the same glory of God at work at Jericho when its walls came tumbling down. In fact, every work of salvation displays the light of the glory of God.
We especially see the light of the glory of God in the birth and life and death of our Savior Jesus Christ. Remember what the angels sang when the baby Jesus was born? They sang, "Glory to God in the highest" (Lk 2:14). Remember the transfiguration of Jesus? At that time Jesus' "face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light" (Mt 17:2). Remember what Jesus said to the Father right after the events of Palm Sunday? He said, "Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven and said, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again" (Jn 12:28). Just before He went to the cross and the grave Jesus prayed,
(Jn 17:4-5) I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (5) And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.Christ's work brings glory to God. The coming of Christ – to do His work as Savior and Lord – is the light that Isaiah is speaking of in our text.
III Arise, Shine
A Isaiah also tells us how to respond to the light of the glory of God in Christ. He says, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."
Notice what happens. The light of God in Christ that shines on us and in us must also shine through us and out of us and from us.
This means at least three things.
B First, we should be people without the darkness of sin. We are in the light, not in the darkness. So we should not live as children of darkness (Eph 5:8). Paul identifies the deeds of darkness for us: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, sexual immorality, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, idolatry (Eph 4:29-5:7). If we are in the light, none of these should be found in our life.
C The second point is the opposite of the first. We are in the light. So we should live as children of light (Eph 5:8). Our lives should be full of the fruit of the light: goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph 5:9).
D Third, the light of Jesus should be obvious in us. People should be able to look at us and see the light and radiance of Christ within us. This is how Isaiah puts it:
(Is 60:3) Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.What happens? Those without Christ see that we have something they do not have. They see the light of the glory of God in Christ within us and they come to us for a closer look. By the grace of God, we become the light of Christ to the world. As tonight's program puts it, we are now "Carriers of the Light."
Topic: LightWe who know Christ, of course, are not blind. But like that man, we too must be providing light so that those who are lost can find their way to heaven. Without the light of Christ shining through us our unbelieving neighbors and co-workers will stumble in their search for peace and satisfaction. Think, for a moment, of the plight of those unreached by the Gospel. Millions do not know anything but spiritual darkness because no one has shared with them the Light that has come into the world. I came across a poem this past week that speaks to this:
D.L. Moody tells us the story of a blind man in a great city who was found sitting at a street corner with a lantern beside him. Someone went up to him and asked him why he had the lantern, since he was blind and the light of if was the same to him as the darkness. The blind man simply replied, 'So that no one may stumble over me.'"
Topic: MissionsSo I want to challenge you: reflect the light of Christ; show others the way to God and heaven, be "Carriers of the Light."
Title: They Never Heard of Christmas!
Why have we not heard of Christmas?
Why have you denied us light;
We who long have groped in darkness
Chained by sorrow, sin and night?
Why have you refused to tell us
Of this Son born from above?
Why have you withheld such tidings
Of God's condescending love?
When was it you learned of Christmas?
Has this story just been heard?
Can it be that God would send Him
Just for you who hold His Word?
Will you still deny us Christmas?
Will we still reach out in vain?
Can it be that we must perish
Never having heard that Name?
All our fathers died in torment,
Racked with anguish, fear and pain;
Never knowing of a Savior,
Never breathing Jesus' Name!
Hear the words of hopeless millions,
Dying where no light has been:
"Won't you share this Christ of Christmas,
Let Him save us from our sin?"
-- John H. Sanford
Our world, like Isaiah's world, is dark. Thick darkness is over the peoples. But the darkness, thank God, does not have the last word. You see, Christ the Light has come and the glory of the Lord shines upon us. And, we are now "Carriers of the Light."
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page