Song of Isaiah (3)

Song of Isaiah (3)

The Third Song of Isaiah.

Please read Isaiah 60.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land;

deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise,

and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open;

by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord,

The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land,

ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation,

and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day;

by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.”

(The Third Song of Isaiah: Is. 60:1-3, 11, 14, 18-19; found in the Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer II).

God is a burning light. He is Spirit, but He is also a consuming fire. God’s light in the spiritual darkness is an important metaphor, but His blinding light is also a tangible reality. His truth does indeed enlighten us, His burning away the darkness in our soul, bringing us to understanding. But God’s Presence has a literal radiance as well. When God shows up, the light of His countenance is revealed. If there is one noticeable aspect to God’s Presence, if there is one way of trying to describe the physical nature of God, it is with this dazzling quality of light.

  • God is the Father of lights (James 1:17).
  • He dwells in unapproachable light (I Timothy 6:16).
  • He is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2).
  • He wraps Himself in light as with a robe (Psalm 104:2).
  • Or, more simply put, “God is light.” (I John 1:5).

This third song of Isaiah capitalizes on light, the dawning of light, the shining brightness of the light. There is no need for the sun or moon in the New Jerusalem, because “the Lord will be your everlasting light.” (verse 19). Isaiah focused on light, light, and more light. And this light is wrapped into God’s glory. God’s glory shines in the darkness, and provides what is needed to display all the properties of light… to sustain life, to heal wounds, to dispel darkness, to burn out impurities, to show the way, to reveal the truth in reality. God’s glory-light remains universally radiant and effective.

GLORY. In the Jewish version of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, the word “Presence” is synonymous with “Glory.” Glory is Presence, the weighted splendor of God’s Presence. Glory is the heavy magnificence of His Presence. The heavy weight and substance of God’s Presence outweighs the world. His Presence is more substantive, has a heavier girth, than the universe. So nature bursts at the seams when God makes an appearance. The earth would be overpowered by the light of God’s full glory. Nature tends to reel and rock in His Presence. Isaiah reported in 6:3 that the angels were singing “the whole earth is full of His glory!” It is a miracle that nature doesn’t self-combust. God is such an overwhelming light that, like Moses, we can only take in a sliver of God’s Presence at a time.

We get a glimpse of God’s great glory in Exodus 19, 20 and 24. God appeared at the top of Mt. Sinai, and He was accompanied by a dense cloud, thunder, lightning, a devouring fire, thick smoke, a violent earthquake, and an increasingly louder trumpet blast! Nature just isn’t equipped to handle God’s unveiled glory. Nature is seen here struggling to manage God’s Presence. It’s no wonder the Hebrews were frightened to the core and wanted Moses to be the middle man. They saw the mountain ignite and were terrified! How did Moses gather the courage to walk up the mountain into God’s immense glory? How was he able to remain in God’s Presence for 40 days? We certainly are not surprised that Moses glowed with God’s radiance after his time in the Glory.

GLORIFY. Thinking of glory, what does it mean to glorify God? How do we bring glory to the One who is already glorified? To glorify God is to acknowledge and applaud the reality of God’s Presence in the world. We glorify God when we magnify His Presence, making Him heavier, larger, more obvious, more credible. We glorify God when we  live in a way that preserves God’s righteous reputation and glorious Name. We glorify God when we honor His character, power and influence. We glorify God when we walk as children of light, helping others to experience the light of His Presence. We glorify God when we highlight and underline His Presence, His glory.

NEW JERUSALEM. This song of Isaiah foretells the time when Jerusalem will be redeemed, spiritually restored, a source of light to the world. Gentile nations will stream to the City, walking out of the darkness, attracted by the light of God’s glory. Zion will be the site of God’s Presence, and will be called the City of the Lord. It will be a city that has embraced Jesus Christ, “the Holy One of Israel.” In this song Yahweh is inviting the redeemed Israelites to rise up and live in God’s glory, basking in the light. God will use this Holy City to be a prophetic presence, calling out to the nations. As Isaiah said in 49:6, “I will make you a light of nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.” May this vision of a Redeemed Jerusalem becoming a light of the world be fulfilled soon, Lord. May the salvation of the world come through the redemption of Your chosen people. May your eternal glory shine bright in Zion.

MESSIAH. “Your gates will always be open; by day or night they will never be shut. They will call you, the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” Being a Christian, I believe Isaiah is once again foretelling the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. Isaiah loves to use that phrase “the Holy One of Israel” when referring to Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Also in rabbinic literature, light is used as a common name for the expected Messiah. Light is used in Matthew 4:15-16, as Jesus is revealed as the light when Matthew describes His ministry. “You who spend your days shrouded in darkness can now say,  ‘We have seen a brilliant light.’ And those who live in the dark shadow land of death can now say, ‘The Dawning Light arises on us.” (TPT). That direct quote from Isaiah 9:1-2 is almost identical to the thoughts in Isaiah 60 about light rising up, about the dawning light of the Lord.

As we think about Yahweh’s glory, how shall we consider the glory of His Son? It’s true that Jesus called himself “the light of the world,” which is an aspect of His glory. But the mystery of glory reaches a crescendo in the person of Christ. In many ways, while He was on earth Jesus was glory in a minor key. He was the eternal King who emptied Himself of his Heavenly glory to take on human flesh. In giving up His glory, Jesus identified with the tarnished image of God.

The Lord’s song hit a major key, though, at the Transfiguration, when He unveiled His glory-light for a short time (Luke 9:28-36). While praying on a mountain top, there suddenly was a bright dense cloud surrounding Jesus. His face shone like the sun, His body radiating heavenly glory. His clothes became as white as light, so bright his three disciples had to look away. In the midst of the cloud, the disciples heard the commanding voice of Yahweh. The glorified Jesus was even seen talking to Moses and Elijah. This was literally a glorious moment on the mountain top. For the most part, Jesus put aside His weighty splendor for a season. He instead let his personal ministry reveal His muted glory. He let His teaching, healing and befriending reveal the greatness and goodness of His light.

In the New Jerusalem, we will finally see Jesus in all His splendor and glory. We will see the glorified Messiah illuminate the universe. Jesus will join His fellow members of the Trinity to provide all the light we will ever need. “The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” We will see the Lord showing His love at the speed of light.

The Third Song of Isaiah – YouTube