Isaiah 60:1-6 Lesson - Arise and shine in the last days!

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The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study

Isaiah 60:1-6 Lesson: Arise and shine in the last days!

by I Gordon

Isaiah 60:1 Arise and Shine verse

This study is entitled 'Arise and Shine'. Now I used to hear that a lot when I was younger... 'Come on Iain, Rise and Shine, Rise and Shine!' I didn't normally feel like rising. And 'shining' would be a very generous description of my morning state. But this well-known phrase, 'Rise and Shine', traces its roots back a verse in Isaiah 60. Let's have a look at these important verses and find the meaning of 'Arise and Shine'.

Isaiah 60:1-2 "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (2) "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.

This passage is a contrast in fortunes. It contrasts the wonderful new day of light and glory that is coming with the night of great darkness that this world must pass through to get there. When you get to a scripture like this, you find that people interpret it in a few different ways. So I wondered whether I should preach it 'in context' or 'out of context'. Now, I normally don't advise preaching something out of context! But to put it another way, should I preach the prophetic interpretation or the personal application and meaning of this verse? The answer of course being 'Yes!' I'll do both! So lets look at this passage from both a prophetic and personal application.

Isaiah 60: The 'in Context' prophetic meaning

To find the context of this scripture, you only have to read the surrounding passage. So what do we see? We saw at the end of Isaiah 59 that Jesus is coming! He put on His helmet of salvation, his breastplate of righteousness and His garments of vengeance... A redeemer will come to Zion! And He means business! The context of this verse then is the climax at the end of this age leading to the Lord's return and a whole new day that will subsequently dawn for planet earth. Let's look briefly and quite quickly, at this passage (verses 1-6) prophetically in its context.

Isaiah 60:1 "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Who is the 'you' in this passage? Who is the passage addressed to? It is addressed to Zion - a name, in its context, for the city of Jerusalem. The prophet Zechariah said that God would make Jerusalem a burdensome stone that the nations would stumble over. Turn on the news and what do you see? That old thorny issue of Jerusalem again! The Palestinians want it. Islam wants it. The Jews obviously see it as their capital even if the rest of world won't acknowledge that! The nations have fought over it for centuries. Jesus said  'And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.'  Well, Isaiah saw the time when that was all past! He saw the time when it would shine! Why - because the glory of the Lord would rise upon it. That is the Lord Jesus Himself. He will be its light.

Isaiah 60:2 "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.

The conditions leading up to this great new day will be one of darkness though. Is this darkness described physical or spiritual? Again, Yes. There is physical darkness over the earth when Jesus returns, and there is spiritual darkness upon the people. It is into such a climate that Jesus, with full shekinah glory, will appear as He Himself described  [1]  .

Isaiah 60:3-5 "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. "Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. "Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you.

In a number of places Bible prophecy tells us that the nations will go up to Jerusalem year after year to see the King of Kings during the Millennium. And this scripture says that the remaining scattered remnant of Israel, the Jews, will also return. This prophetic scripture also tells us that the wealth of the nations and of the sea shall be turned over to Jerusalem. The Amplified Bible has an interesting note on this in relation to the 'Dead Sea' which is in the small print if interested.  [2] 

Isaiah 60:6 "A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.

Can you remember reading about the Queen of Sheba's journey (2000 km on the back of a camel!) to come and see the fame and wisdom of Solomon? Well Solomon's wisdom and the glory of His Kingdom is a type of the coming Messianic kingdom when Jesus reigns and rules from Jerusalem. So it is not surprising that we read of the same things happening again. We read of those coming from Midian and Sheba again coming to Jerusalem. And note that they bring Gold and Frankincense just as the wise men brought when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Gold, frankincense but no Myrrh is mentioned. Hmmm... why is that do you think?  [3] 

Light and Darkness in the New Testament

Right so that, very briefly, is the prophetic interpretation of Isaiah 60:1-6. It is the coming of the Lord and the glory of His kingdom in Jerusalem during the Millennium. But let's go back to the start for the imagery used in the first few verses are descriptive of eternal themes right throughout the entire Bible and especially so in the New Testament. What themes are these you ask? Well, themes of light and darkness, and the glory of the Lord. So let's look at a general passage early in the New Testament that brings in these themes of light and darkness.

Luke 1:78-79 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace." 

Jesus' first coming is likened to the sunrise, and Jesus Himself is called 'the sunrise from on high'. For centuries, both Israel and especially the Gentile nations had been in darkness spiritually speaking. But the coming of Jesus signified the dawn of a new day... just as it will when He returns the second time. It was the fulfilment of another prophetic passage in Isaiah that said  'The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.' (Isa 9:2)  He was the sunrise from on High. Now when you first come to know Jesus the same thing occurs. The light shines in the darkness of our own lives and in that light you can see! You can see yourself for what you are. You can see the Lord Jesus for who He truly is. You can see the purpose for life. You no longer have to come to the end of your life not even knowing why it began! God declared 'Let there be light!' in the life of every born again Christian and there was light and the light was good. I hope you have experienced that. Let's just note a few general scriptures concerning this.

John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." 

2 Cor 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 

And there is a need to continue to walk in the light:

1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; (7) but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

This becomes all the more important in the last days, not only for yourself but for those around you as well, for our text in Isaiah 60 told us that as we approach the end of the age 'gross darkness' will cover the peoples.

Isaiah 60:1 in the New Testament... The 'Personal Application' & Meaning 

It is interesting to see where in the Bible this verse is quoted and the way in which it is used. Paul uses it, without directly quoting it in Eph 5:8-17:

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) (10) and find out what pleases the Lord. 

Ephesians 5:13-17 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (14) For this reason it says,  "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."  (15) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, (16) making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (17) So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 

Paul starts by reminding his readers that they were once darkness. Now note that he doesn't say you were once in darkness. Nope. The problem was worse than that. You were darkness! Maybe you have met someone where you have thought, 'errrrrr... he is not just in darkness... he is darkness!' Well that is the description from God's point of view before the light shines in our hearts. But now we are the light... so continue to walk in this light and you will shine!  [4] 

Verses 14-17 tells us to wake up... Rise... And Christ will shine on you. If you say you are a Christian and claim the name of Christ, then your life should reflect something of Him. But sometimes we fall into a spiritual slumber. We just go through the motions and fill out lives with many things apart from Jesus. Sometimes it is not even easy to tell you are slumbering. The command here - and it is based on Isaiah 60:1, is to wake up, rise and shine. We need to take toll of the dark days in which we live and seek out the Lord's will and live for Him!

Conclusion - Reasons to Arise and Shine

Isaiah 60:1-2 "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (2) "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.

So to conclude let's go back to our original verse in Isaiah 60 and answer the question, 'Why should we arise and shine?' Four points come to mind.

  1. For it says 'your light has come' - Jesus Christ, our light, has come. He came, He died, He rose again. He has already won the victory on the cross and all sin has been paid for. We are on the winning side! More than enough reason to live for Him and shine.
  2. 'The glory of the Lord has risen upon you' - Jesus has given His life to you. His presence is with and in the believer. This makes all the difference. There is no way we can shine without Him. But we no longer have to be trapped in the frustration of living with only our own resources. Naturally we all fail. But we can shine through His life in us. We have a friend of the family who is a Christian but is living in a lot of fear. It has become a phobia really. She has been told by her family (also Christian) that that is just how she is and it will always be that way. Nothing will ever change. And that is what she believes so she lives in this fear that controls a large part of her life. Is that how it is meant to be? We all have fears but are we meant to just throw in the towel and live in fear or is there now the hope and opportunity to arise and shine because of the Lord's presence in our life? Of course there is!
  3. The third reason to arise and shine is because people are in darkness. Actually deep (or gross) darkness to be exact. Remember this passage is prophetic of the end of the age. Darkness will cover the entire earth. There is a lot of darkness hovering on the horizon. Morally, spiritually, financially, emotionally... In so many areas there is the darkness of despair hovering over this world. The one good thing is that the darker it becomes, the easier it is to see the light. And, as Isaiah said in the previous chapter (KJV) 'when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.'
  4. The final reason to rise and shine is the result: 'Gentiles shall come to your light.' The light attracts... and not just moths. People want to see something that is real. Although as someone has said -  'Some people change their ways when they see the light, others only when they feel the heat.' 

It is going to get harder. I've read a few of the godly old authors from 100-200 years ago like Spurgeon, CHM, Bunyan, Moody, Ironside etc and they often bemoan the conditions on the earth and the heart of man in their time. Well... what would they think if they were instantly resurrected into our day? The scripture tells us rise and shine. Paul assures us in Ephesians that if we make that first effort towards Jesus He will shine upon you. And that is what is required in this morally corrupted and difficult age.

[1] ↩  Jesus spoke about the darkness that will exist at the time of His return. The sun, moon and stars will not provide any light. Matthew 24:29-30 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days  the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;  the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

[2] ↩  Amplified Bible - Isaiah 60:5 'Prior to well into the twentieth century, scholars could only speculate as to what Isaiah might have meant here by 'the abundant wealth of the [Dead] Sea' that would one day be turned over to Jerusalem. Of course, the Dead Sea, which for ages had been considered only a place of death and desolation, was ruled out as a possible meaning. Then suddenly it was discovered that the waters of the Dead Sea contain important chemicals. In a.d. 1935 G.T.B. Davis wrote, 'One is almost staggered by the computed wealth of the chemical salts of the Dead Sea. It is estimated that the potential value of the potash, bromine, and other chemical salts of its waters is... four times the wealth of the United States!' (G.T.B. Davis, Rebuilding Palestine) Isaiah himself did not know this, but the God who caused the Dead Sea to play a part in His program in the last days knew all about it, and He led the prophet to so prophesy here in this verse.'

One internet commentator wrote the following about the Dead Sea -  'The Dead Sea doesn't bring to mind a wealth of natural resources - any PR company worth its salt would have steered away from the word 'dead' - but the Sea's famous buoyancy should be a tip-off that the region is more than a pool of undrinkable water in the middle of a searing desert. In fact, when it comes to potash, bromine, magnesium chloride and sodium chloride the Dead Sea is a gold mine. Actually, it's better than a gold mine: getting valuable things out of a mine involves the expensive and dangerous business of digging underground, but the Dead Sea's chemical wealth can almost be picked up.' 

[3] ↩  Believers Bible Commentary (William MacDonald) has the following note:  'The treasures they brought spoke volumes. Gold is a symbol of deity and glory; it speaks of the shining perfection of His divine Person. Frankincense is an ointment or perfume; it suggests the fragrance of the life of sinless perfection. Myrrh is a bitter herb; it presages the sufferings He would endure in bearing the sins of the world. The bringing of gifts by Gentiles is reminiscent of the language of Isa_60:6. Isaiah predicted that Gentiles would come to the Messiah with gifts, but mentioned only gold and frankincense: '... they shall bring gold and incense. And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.' Why was myrrh omitted? Because Isaiah was speaking of Christ's second advent - His coming in power and great glory. There will be no myrrh then because He will not suffer then. But in Matthew the myrrh is included because His first coming is in view. In Matthew we have the sufferings of Christ; in this passage of Isaiah, the glories that shall follow.' 

[4] ↩  J. Vernon McGee on dispersing darkness  - 'Darkness is not driven away by preaching at it; darkness is dissipated by the presence of light. There are too many Christians who take the critical method or the preaching method. They try to correct an unsaved person by saying, "You shouldn't be doing that." My friend, that is not the way to approach the darkness. You are to be light... You see, you are not able to win a person to Christ by lecturing to him and telling him what is wrong. You are not to try to get the unsaved man to change his conduct; he cannot change his conduct. He needs to be born again in order to change. You are not to shake your finger under his nose and say, "Don't do that. Don't be a bad boy." You are to be light, and light will always affect darkness. 

I remember a very dear lady in my congregation when I was a pastor in downtown Los Angeles. She was a dominant character, however. She came to me and told me that her husband was unsaved and asked me to remember him in prayer. I did so faithfully. Then she came to me and told me that he was coming to church but would never accept the invitation to receive Christ as his Savior. Then she told me this: "At breakfast I talk to him with tears about receiving Christ. Again at dinner I talk to him and cry." I got to thinking what it would be like to have two meals a day with a crying woman. So I told her absolutely never to mention the subject to him again. She should fix him the nicest meals possible and be the sweetest person she knew how to be. "Oh," she said, "that wouldn't work. We are supposed to witness." You see, she didn't really understand what it meant to be a witness. Anyway, she did try the plan. She quit blubbering in his presence, and she stopped lecturing to him. In less than six months that man made a decision for Christ. He had been listening to the wrong preacher before that. She had been preaching to him when she should have been a light. Remember that darkness is not dissipated by lecturing or by preaching. Darkness is dissipated by light.'