Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
– Isaiah 60:1–3
R. Reed Lessing writes:
Isaiah 56-66 begins with Yahweh’s clarion call that “My salvation is near in coming” (56:1). What follows is, by and large, a description of the community’s horrendous state and its inability to live up to Yahweh’s covenant standards of “justice” and “righteousness” (56:1). Despicable leadership (56:9-12) and gross idolatry (57:3-13a) plague the people. Darkness, depravity, and death abound (59:2-11). So what does Yahweh do? He hides His face (59:2). And how do the faithful respond? In the only way that makes sense. Lost in gloom and experiencing divine judgment, they confess their sins (59:12-15a). Yahweh responds by donning the armor of a warrior and fighting to rescue His faithful remnant (59:15b-19). He also sends the Redeemer, who will come to Zion for those who repent of their sins (59:20). Yahweh further promises a covenant with them through His Spirit-empowered Suffering Servant: the Spirit and the words given to the Servant will continue to abide with the Servant and will also be given to the Servant’s offspring (the faithful remnant), even to the offspring’s offspring forevermore (59:21).
These bright rays that emerge at the end of chapter 59 explode in radiant color in chapter 60. Isaiah had promised that all flesh will see Yahweh’s glory (40:5), and now this incarnational glory (see Jn 1:14) rises upon Zion, who is addressed as a woman throughout chapter 60. She is quite the lady to behold! In the ancient Near East the female metaphor for a city was common, probably because cities were conceptualized as nurturing birth mothers of their inhabitants. Jerusalem was depicted with maternal images earlier in Isaiah. That imagery is reinforced throughout chapter 60 by Yahweh addressing Zion as a woman, including language such as “your sons” and “your daughters” (60:4); through the chapter the pronouns translated as “you” and “your” are feminine singular. The personification of Zion as a female city brings with it great theological and rhetorical power. An early church dictum is that no one can call God “Father” unless the church is his spiritual birth “mother.” …
The imperative “shine” (60:1) constitutes a promise. It “is not a mere admonition, but a word of power which puts new life into her [Zion’s] limbs.” Yahweh’s command is an efficacious word that accomplishes what it says. … In Isaiah 60:1 the call is not just mere talk about something. It makes something happen, for the word empowers what it says (55:10-11). The command to arise is accompanied by the strength to fulfill the order.’
And we have the same promise: “for God, who said, ‘Out of darkness let light shine,’ is the one who has shone in our hearts for [giving us] the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). Both the initial conversion and the subsequent life of faith are the result of God’s almighty word.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 17
Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.