For the week of September 20, 2008 / 20 Elul 5768
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1; ESV).
This section of the prophet Isaiah speaks of the time when God will establish the kind of relationship with the people of Israel that he intended. With the coming of the Messiah, we understand that this can be a reality right now to anyone who truly trusts in him. In Yeshua, God has returned to Zion, so that we, Jew and Gentile alike, can experience the blessing promised to Abraham so long ago.
The word picture painted by Isaiah is that of the dawning of a new day after a long, difficult night. The people of Israel had been chosen by God to be his instruments of blessing to the entire world. This indeed has happened, but not in the way anticipated. It was essential for the world to understand that human beings on our own cannot be what God wants us to be. The consequence of the rebellion of Adam and Eve against God is the predicament we are all born into. In order to come into the blessing promised to Abraham, we first need to accept the reality of that predicament. One of the functions of the Torah was to emphasize the fact that we are all sinners, incapable of pleasing God on our own. Israel's failure to live up to God's standard prepared us for the coming of the Messiah and his redemption. His sacrificial death and the overcoming of death through his resurrection is God's antidote to the predicament of sin.
Isaiah likened God's solution to the dawning of a new day. The light of a new day reflecting off the face of his people as God comes to rescue his people through the Messiah. The long night of despair, fear, and rejection is over as the new day of forgiveness, peace, and restoration dawns.
Note how Isaiah says that this wonderful experience is not just something that happens to us. The dawning of God's light is not something of which we are only spectators. This is not simply a prediction about the changing of circumstances, but rather it is a call to engage that change. As God's light dawns, we need to be reflectors of that light - or in Isaiah's words, "Arise, shine..."
Because God has made us right with him, we can be his reflectors. We reflect his light by directing our hearts and lives in such a way so that his goodness, his truth, and his reality will be seen by others.
As his reflectors, God uses us to reflect his light in order to shine his light in the world today. The day will come when God's light will encompass the whole earth, but for now, he calls us to stand out like beacons in an otherwise dark world. Not everyone will appreciate this however. For some we will be the means of their also becoming God's reflectors, but others will be blinded by that same light and will respond negatively to us. This is one of the reasons why some of us who at some level are aware of God's light refuse to be his reflectors. They may think it is possible to derive benefit from God's light while not disrupting the darkness around us. But they may be surprised one day to learn that they never actually really knew God's light at all, but rather have remained in the darkness. To truly know God's light we need also to reflect it.
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