Rise and shine

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When morning comes the phrase trips off our tongues.  Yet we rarely think of its strangeness.  To say “Rise and shine” is odd.  We’re not simply exhorting the slumberer to notice the sun or respond to the sun.  We’re telling them to be the sun – or at least, like the sun.

The sun rises.  We rise.  The sun shines.  We shine.  Or we’re supposed to if the saying is anything to go by.

People are meant to be miniature suns.

To understand how and why, let’s go back to the source – Isaiah chapter 60.  Listen to the interaction of “rising” and “shining” here:

1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.  2 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.  3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

In verse 1 the people rise and shine.  But in verse 2 we learn that their rising and shining springs from no power of their own.  They live in “gross darkness”.  It is “the LORD” who rises and shines (note that in verse 1 He is called “the Glory of LORD”).  But then in verse 3 we see that the people do have a “light” and a “rising” they can call their own.  And who do they rise and shine upon?  The nations.

So we have a picture – we rise and shine because the LORD rises and shines.  And just as He rises and shines on us, so we rise and shine on the world.  Appropriately enough the shining of the LORD is an outgoing brilliance that doesn’t terminate on His people but, once it’s received, it radiates out to the nations.

We should note that in Isaiah, neither rising nor shining comes naturally to God’s people.  In fact, the book is an extended wake up call to Jerusalem (i.e. Zion):

Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust:  (Isaiah 26:19)

Awake, awake, put on strength, (Isaiah 51:9)

Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, (Isaiah 51:17)

Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion… Shake thyself from the dust; arise,  (Isaiah 52:1-2)

And darkness seems to be their natural habitat.

We wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.  (Isaiah 59:9)

Yet, famously,

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

The people are naturally in the dark, yet there is an other-worldly Light.  He is the Miraculous Child – the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  In Isaiah 42 He is described as the Servant who will be a Light for the Gentiles, “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” (Isaiah 42:6-7)

The Messiah is the Divine Glory of the LORD.  And He not only shines upon those in darkness.  He has the power to make them radiate this glory to others.  He is a Sun who rises to transform gloomy slumberers into shining stars.

So in the morning, just as you let the sun rise and shine upon you to brighten your face and give you warmth, so let Christ rise and shine upon you to give you hope and peace.  Know His glory chasing away every shadow and His love as free as the sunshine.  Then see if you don’t shine yourself.  And the world will be drawn to your brightness.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come,
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
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.
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.  (Isaiah 60:1-4,19-20)

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