Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.The 'No Mores' of Life
I. The tone is very wonderful. No more sun, no more moon, no more wasting, no more violence, no more earth, no more firmament heaven, but quite another heaven, which that great firmament has been trying, and trying in vain, to hint at all these countless thousands of ages. It is very curious to notice how many things you can part with without parting with yourself. It is astonishing how many things you could cut off your own self and leave yourself in all its superior faculties and capacities.
Now it is proposed, and given to us as a promise to be kept in the heart, that there shall be no more sun, no more moon, no more stars and planets and other fiery points. How foolish therefore we have been to have regarded all these things as of any importance beyond a very limited line! Yet how mightily we have been taken up with these things, and how forgetful we have been of prayer! Is it not like man, is it not a map of himself drawn by his own hand, that he should be so busy looking at things that were doomed before they ever came into existence?
II. What is the eternal in relation to this particular text and context? The words are beautiful: 'Thy God thy glory'; that is to say, thy God thy sun, thy God thy moon, thy God thy morning. Find all things in God, all you want, all you need, all that can be dreamed by sanctified fancy. I saw no temple in that upper city, said the seer in his Sabbath vision. And why did he see no temple in that upper city? Because the city was all temple. People forget that. They say that institutionalism will be done away; I would rather say that institutionalism will be purified, ennobled, sanctified; for God has been aiming at something even through the blunders of religion and civilization. All things are moving forward even when they seem to be moving backward, and things are often moving backward when they seem to be moving forward. We did not start the action, and we cannot control it. When one poor wondering man said, How can this thing be? how can a little one become a thousand, how can a small one become a strong nation? the great religious triumphant answer was, 'I the Lord will hasten it in His time'. So He orders out of His way all mean in a;ruptions and all the temporary substitutes for Himself.
III. Then think, looking at the text and the context, what a wonderful process, taking the Bible as a whole, there is going on under what may be called the category of the 'no mores 'of life. 'No more sun, no more moon, no more sea, no more light, no more death, neither shall there be any more pain'—thus you can look at God cutting away the universe until He gets at its soul, meaning, personality, outliving matter and surviving it by countless ages of ages.
No more violence, no more destruction, no more wasting. All these things exhaust themselves. Whatever burns is burning itself out. But if we could get behind the burning and see the meaning, then we would know that burning of that sort such as Moses saw at Horeb is a self-renewing burning. So that we read further in the context that the sun shall be as it were restored with another significance. 'Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for'—God will give them both a new handling, He will take them up into Himself—'the Lord shall be thine everlasting life, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended'.
God has always been moving along the line of progress. This is His programme. 'For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron;' everything shall change places with everything else. The Lord's providence is a great movement, a continual action and interplay, and no man can stay the action: it is God's. O rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him, and He will give thee thine heart's desire.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. v. p. 213.
Reference.—LX.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlviii. No. 2764.
It is recorded that in Athens there was a law according to which any man who had a lighted candle and refused to allow another to light his by its means, was to be punished by death. This kind of communication is illustrated even in connexion with physical light, since it spreads and imparts itself to some other thing without itself diminishing or losing anything; and still more it is the nature of spirit itself to remain in possession of what belongs to it, while giving another a share in what it possesses.
Mrs. H. B. Stowe, in her reminiscences of her grandmother, tells how 'on one occasion, after her hearing had become slightly impaired, a wordy battle had been raging round her for some time, which, as she could not understand what we said, and as we seemed to be getting more and more earnest, moved her solicitude very deeply. At last she called one of my brothers to her, and said, "There, now, if you have talked long enough, I want you to read something to me," and gave him that eloquent chapter in Isaiah which begins, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee"; and goes on to describe the day when the whole earth shall be full of the glory of the Lord. Her face, while he was reading, was like a transparency, luminous with internal light. At the close she said, "Bishop Heber tells in his memoirs how, off in India, there were four ministers of Christ met together, all of different denominations, and they read this chapter together, and found then there was one thing they all agreed in exactly".'
References.—LX. 1.—E. L. Hull, Sermons, p. 71. A. F. Winnington Ingram, Banners of the Christian Faith, p. 197. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. i. p. 240. H. Scott Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxix. 1891, p. 24. A. H. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part i. p. 114. A. H. Bradford, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. 1896, p. 181. H. W. Webb-Peploe, Calls to Holiness, p. 175. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlv. No. 2617. J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 69.
Light Obtained: Light Diffused (The Epiphany)
We ourselves are a part fulfilment of this prophecy. It is Israel's God we worship, Israel's faith that boats in our hearts, Israel's hope we cherish, Israel's Messiah in Whom we trust for salvation, Israel's privilege to which we are admitted. The light is risen. It has spread to the dark places of the earth. Many out of every nation have come to its beams; they bask in its glory.
The Church of Today is what it is through the fulfilment of this prophecy in part; the Church of the future will be what it shall become through its fulfilment in completeness. God hath not cast off His people whom He foreknew. The Redeemer shall come to Zion (chap. 59:20; Romans 11:26). Israel shall be converted. Their conversion will have a powerful reactive effect on the Gentiles. 'For,' says St. Paul, 'if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?' (Romans 11:11-16).
Dropping the special reference to Israel, and viewing the text in its universal bearings, we have—
I. The Church Enlightened by Christ's Coming.—'Thy light is come.... The glory of the Lord is risen upon thee' (v. 1). The reference is to the coming of Christ, the God-man Redeemer. Christ arose upon His Church like a great sun, imparting light, reviving courage, diffusing gladness, making bright with glory. 'The Sun of Righteousness' (Malachi 4:2). Christ gives light—
a. By imparting saving knowledge. He taught men of the Father. He showed the way of life. He put into the precepts of the law a depth of spiritual meaning never seen in them before. He could say of Himself, 'I am the Light of the World'; 'I am the Truth' (St. John 8:12; John 14:6). Christ could give this light because He was Himself the sent of the Father for the salvation of the world. He came with full knowledge of the Divine purpose. He spake with absolute authority. There was nothing the world needed to know that Christ could not tell it
b. By restoring the Church to power and influence. The godly in Israel were but a handful. They were down-trodden and despised. The Church of the exile stood sadly in need of comfort. But Christ would lift up its head; He would reinstate it in power and influence among the nations; He would give it prosperity. This was bringing it light. Accordingly, a new springtime came with the advent of the Saviour. He made His Church a power. Its power speedily became felt, and continues to this day. Christ's kingdom is at this hour the highest thing on earth It is a permanent and influential factor in history—a thing of might.
c. By conferring on the Church the beauty of holiness. This may answer to the 'glory' which the Prophet declares 'shall be seen upon it' (v. 3). Christ confers a glory on the Church by the spiritual gifts which He bestows, and by the graces which become visible in the character of His people through the operation of His Word and Spirit.
II. The Light of the Church in Contrast with the Surrounding Darkness.—'For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,' etc. (v. 2). The Church, believers, Christian nations, enlightened by Christ, stand in marked contrast with the darkness of the world around. The effect of the light is to make the darkness more visible. Contrast—
a. The enlightenment of faith with the boasted enlightenment of reason. 'The world by wisdom knew not God' (1 Corinthians 1:21). The world's cleverness did not lead it to the truth. It leads it often to reject the truth now that it has come. The boasted enlightenment of antiquity left it profoundly immoral. The theories, schemes, reasonings of our philosophers Today leave the mind in just as great; uncertainty on the chief questions of existence (God, the soul, future life, etc.); are often as hopelessly astray in their first principles (materialism, utilitarianism, etc.); and are as powerless as the ancient systems to reach the conscience and renew the heart
b. The enlightenment of nations which have received the truth with the darkness of surrounding heathenism. The nations which have the most; light of every kind on earth are the Christian nations The purer the gospel, the more advanced the peoples. Where this light has not penetrated, the darkness is gross and the peoples are stationary. Heathenism is sadly uniform in the spectacle it presents of idolatry, debasement, cruelty, gross moral corruption, hideous superstition, etc.
c. The enlightenment of individuals who have obeyed the truth with the darkness of those who are still in sin. The believer recognizes in his own experience that, whereas he was once darkness, he is; now light in the Lord. The change in his character manifests this to be true. The unbeliever, on the contrary, knows his state to be one of darkness, of moral evil, of unhappiness; through lack of true knowledge of God, of hopelessness as regards the future.
III. The Duty of the Church to take Advantage of and to Diffuse her Light.—'Arise, shine' (v. 1). 'And the Gentiles shall come,' etc. (v. 3).
a. The Church's duty to take advantage of her light.—Arise to welcome it Shine in the beauty of it. Reflect the glory of it. Shine (1) in the light of a fuller knowledge; (2) in the light of a more perfect sanctification; (3) in the light of a higher gladness (Php 4:4). The light may shine on the sleeping or the dead, and no benefit be derived, no gladness communicated. 'Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light' (Eph. v. 14).
b. The Church's duty to diffuse her light. She is to let her light shine that others may behold it She is to use active measures to spread it abroad. Here the figure fails. The sun shines by natural law; the gospel is not spread abroad save by human exertions. Missionary effort is of the essence of the Church's calling (St. Mark 16:16).
References.—LX. 1-3.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 176. J. H. Jowett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxii. 1902, p. 161. LX. 1 and 19-—F. E. Paget, Helps and Hindrances to the Christian Life, vol. i. p. 52. LX. 3.—W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches (2nd Series), p. 37. LX. 4-6.—H. Scott Holland, Church Times, vol. liii. 1905, p. 123; see also Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 56.
Enlargement of Heart
The word 'heart' has a very wide meaning in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. It is used to express the whole inward nature of man. It is the seat of knowledge, it is the home of feeling, and it is the spring of action.
As to the word rendered 'fear,' it is not exactly fear itself which is meant, but the excitement, the exaltation, the throb which comes when a man trembles on the verge of action, that is meant by this word. It is the thrill which comes to a man as he girds himself up to a new departure.
I. 'Thine heart shall throb with an emotion corresponding to the greatness of the situation.' So it is in life at every great crisis of living. It is the way by which human nature is made, by which men attain to manhood, by which Christian men attain to Christian manhood.
The vision comes, and the response comes also, and the heart fears and is enlarged. Passing from the fact that this has been so in the case of all the great workers of the world, let us dwell for a little on the state of mind depicted here. Wide and deep feeling are needed in the making of man. Nor is deep feeling possible without the vision of the true, the beautiful, and the good. Feeling keeps pace with intelligence, and it responds to every enlargement of the vision. Feeling is needed to strengthen the vision, and the wider vision calls forth a deeper emotion, and these translate themselves into action.
II. There are those who fail to respond to the vision, and who thus lose the power of feeling that deep emotion which the Prophet here describes. There are those who respond to the vision at once, and having seen and felt the glory of it, desire to live always in the enjoyment of that exalted emotion. But the emotion passes, as the vision, or that form of the vision, becomes familiar. The great emotion was not meant to last, it was to accomplish something, and having done its work it passes away.
III. There is progress in the Christian life, and at each progressive stage there is the added vision and the responsive emotion.
Thus we ought not to seek to ask for a repetition of the former vision, or for a renewal of former experiences; there is some better thing in store for us. There is the fullness of Him in Whom there is all the fullness of God.
The text discloses the abiding interest of Christian life. It can never be without interest to Him who lives it, it can never be monotonous; for as it unfolds itself and becomes more fully conscious of its great meaning, it opens to itself fresh fields, higher intellectual, emotional, and volitional possibilities, and calls on us to make them actual.
—J. Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, p. 35.
References.—LX. 7.—Bishop Simpson Sermons, p. 209. LX. 8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 63; vol. xlviii. No. 2764; vol. liii. No. 3051. T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p. 282. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 337. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. i. p. 245.
Offerings for the Sanctuary
The earth is full of God's wonderful works, do you say, and what are we to do with them? what to do with marbles and precious stones, gold and silver, and fine linen? Give them to God. Render them to Him from Whom, and through Whom, and to Whom are all things. This is their proper destination. Is it a better thing to dress up our sinful bodies in silk and jewels, or to ornament therewith God's house and God's ritual? Does anyone doubt what all these excellent things are meant for? or, at least, can he doubt what they are not meant for? not meant, surely, for sinners to make themselves fine withal. What presumption would that be, what senselessness! Does not the whole world speak in praise of God? Does not every star in the sky, every tree and flower upon earth, all that grows, all that endures, the leafy woods, the everlasting mountains, speak of God? Do not the pearls in the sea, and the jewels in the rocks, and the metals in the mine, and the marbles in the quarry—do not all rich and beautiful substances everywhere witness of Him who made them? Are they not His work, His token, His glory? Are they not a portion of a vast natural temple, the heavens, earth, and sea, a vast cathedral for the Bishop of our souls, the All-sufficient Priest, who first created all things and then again, became, by purchase, their Possessor? Does it not strike you, then, as extreme presumption, and a port of sacrilege, to consecrate them to anyone's glory but God's.
—J. H. Newman.
References.—LX. 17.—J. S. Maver, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. 1898, p. 302. J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 327. LX. 18.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 188. Bishop Simpson's Sermons, p. 279.
Thy God Thy Glory
This is the end; this is the final meaning; this is the upshot. We wanted to know how things would terminate, and the Prophet tells us, and the Apostle tells us, and they both say, God shall be all in all. The Prophet saw it from afar. We need men who can see the morning; most of us can see and feel the night. There were men in the old, old time whose face was warmed by the morning beam. They persisted because God was with them. God said, Cry aloud, spare not, and tell the world that the morning is coming. We need these morning singers, people who have great sweet words to say when appearances are against them and all the heavens appear to crush them down. Some of us have moods, we see light now and then, we have good times; but the Prophet saw the morning afar off, and spake of it according to the Spirit of God.
The point that I wish to fix attention upon is, that the end of all things is God. We must end where we began; the last note and the first must melt into one burst of music. The Apostle says the end of all things is God; Isaiah says thy God shall be thy glory; and all through there is a feeling that Alpha is Omega, that Omega has in it Alpha, and the purposes of God are one.
I. 'Thy God thy glory.' It might have been so from the first; God meant it, but man turned away from God. Then came the promise, and from that point God has been working to bring man back again into His movement. Consider that things were not done Today and tomorrow; consider that God, having uttered a purpose and revealed a plan, will keep to it till the end. The centuries will die, and be as white ghosts on the fields of time, but God's eternity quietly, calmly, majestically, goes on.
II. 'Thy God thy glory.' It might always have been so, but it was not so. What happened? Sin happened, and it will take God many a century to get sin out of the universe, but it shall go. God showed man the way back to Himself, but it is of grace, not of works, or discovery, or invention, or human plan; the way back to God is the very wonder of love.
III. 'Thy God thy glory.' He will never be less than God: He will be on the throne for ever and ever, and He will be the glory of man. What has God done to recover man's apostasy, to bring him into right relation to himself? He has sent him a Saviour, Christ the Lord; that Saviour has come to seek you and me, to seek the whole human race. He speaks to every man in His own tongue wherein he was born. He adapts Himself, He reincarnates Himself, He will be to us what we can be to Him, that He may raise us up into His own personality and majesty. He is determined to win; there cannot be two Gods. He has set to His seal that the world is His, and He will redeem it, and has redeemed it with blood more precious than gold.
IV. 'Thy God thy glory.' Do not imagine that we can easily get to the end; through much tribulation we must enter every kingdom that is worth entering—how much more in entering into the kingdom of God! And make of the passage what you like, degrade it, you cannot take all the poetry out of it—'These are they which washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb'. That is a secret meaning, a sacred meaning, a practicable and intelligent meaning, and until we get at that meaning we have not yet begun the great Gospel way.
We have not given God field enough; we should have given Him more elbow-room. He will take it, and not until we see things from that point of view shall we be able to believe that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 'Thy God thy glory'—a recovered God, a reconciled God, a reconciled man, all things tending to unity, radiance, music; then God shall say, 'It is finished!'
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vi. p. 204.
References.—LX. 20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No. 1176. T. Gasquoine, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxvii. 1890, p. 330. J. Page Hopps, Sermons of Sympathy, p. 93. LX. 22.—G. Matheson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 36. P. T. Forsyth, ibid. vol. lvii. 1900, p. 305. J. Percival, Some Helps for School Life, p. 264. J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 299.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.
Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.
The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.
Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.
Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.
A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.