Arise, shine; for thy light is coins, 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 rise upon thee, and his glory shall be upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy coming. Isa. 60:1-3
It is night. Darkness covers the earth,—a darkness not of a night with stars shining in its heavens, but the darkness of a night with skies overcast with a thick, impenetrable cloud—the cloud of the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Such is the nature of the darkness of which the prophet here speaks. It is a terrible darkness, unmixed with any light whatever, thus total and absolute. It is the darkness that fell when man, giving ear to the devil transgressed the commandment of life, which he had received; and separated himself from God who was his true life. Then the sun of man’s righteousness, and holiness, and knowledge did set, and horrible darkness covered the earth—the darkness of corruption of the whole nature of man, thus the darkness of sin, and guilt and death spiritual, of all unrighteousness, wickedness, maliciousness, murder, deceit, bitterness and destruction, of walking in the counsel of the ungodly, of standing in the way of sinner and of sitting in the seat of the scornful, the darkness of rage, of the people imagining a vain thing, of kings of the earth setting themselves, and the rulers taking counsel against the Lord, the darkness of manifold misery and woe of every description, of the weeping of blank despair and unutterable weariness.
Such is the darkness of the night that set in when the sun of man’s original righteousness set. And this darkness is great, absolute. For, though man may be spiritually blind, he retained after the fall his rational eye, perception. And what may be known of God is manifest in him. The invisible things of God are clearly seen and understood by him. But the pure light from heaven is in him darkness. For his eye, rational perception, is evil. He holds under the truth in unrighteousness. He insists that the virtues of God are vices, that the loveliness of God is unloveliness, that the purity of God is vileness, that the wisdom of God is foolishness. So man changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto the corruptible creature. Thus even the light in man is darkness. How great then this darkness.
But God promised, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman. . . .” It is the promise of the coming of the light, of light that spells forgiveness of sin and deliverance from its power, thus of light that is righteousness, holiness, purity of heart, of light that is love and faith in God and fear of His name, of fellowship with God, of a being satisfied with His likeness. It is the promise of Him who is the light of the world, of Zion, the resurrection and the life, the sanctification, righteousness, wisdom and redemption of His people —Christ Jesus. Thus it is the promise of the rising of the glory of the Lord, of the dawn of a new day.
And this day has dawned. The promise is fulfilled. Such surely is the implication of the shout of joy of the prophet, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
God sent His eternal Son into the world, His only begotten. He took upon Him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, assumed the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted. Him God wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And having glorified God on the earth, and having finished the work which the Father gave Him to do, He ascended from His cross into heaven, after having tasted death for His people. And there in heaven, the Father glorified Him with His, the Father’s, own self with the glory which He, in His office of mediator, had with the Father in His counsel before the world was. For it was the Father’s will that in Him all fullness should dwell. So was He mightily exalted, and received a name above every name. For He had become obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross. And as so glorified, He, the Lord of heavenly glory and beauty, rose upon His church, shone (and shines) in the hearts of those given Him by the Father, of those chosen in Him unto life eternal, and thus also set together with Him in heavenly places,—upon these He rose as to His glory through His pouring out His Spirit upon them, upon Zion, only, and upon none other. Such is indeed the teaching of the prophet. “The glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Thy light is come.” The pronoun thee signifies Zion. And the possessive pronoun thy sets forth Christ as belonging only to Zion, to His people. How could it be otherwise. It is this people only who with Him was crucified, buried and resurrected. Thus the new day dawned only for and in Zion. And therefore even after the rising of the glory of the Lord, the great darkness continued to cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. Such certainly is the plain implication of the prophet’s words, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth. . . . but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.”
Upon the children of Zion then is His glory seen. These children partake of His fullness. They come into the possession of the content of the promise. These He saves from all their sins. In their hearts He pours His love. In them does the life that is in Him abound. These are conformed according to His image, and shew forth His glory. In Zion has the new day dawned. But gross darkness covers the people. The day has dawned, the Sun is risen; yet, beyond the borders of Zion it is still night.
And therefore let Zion arise and shine—shine in that darkness. “Arise, shine: for thy light is come. . .” Let the children of Zion shine, shew forth their glory, which is the glory of Christ, through confessing His name, and witnessing for the truth, and through their walking in the way of His commands, in a word, through their walking in those good works which He prepared. Let these children not put the glory of Christ in them under a bushel, obscure this glory through the works of their flesh. But let them be conformed according to the renewal of their minds, in order that their light may shine forth.
And in this gross darkness their light shines. The world, the disobedient, all such who are destined to perish in their unbelief, do not comprehend the light spiritually. They do not love the light, and, as so loving, come to the light and be saved. Though they rationally perceive the light, they despise Christ. The light in them is darkness and gross darkness therefore will continue to cover the earth.
However, the Gentiles, the elect of God among the Gentiles, will come to the light, and kings to the brightness will no longer cover the earth, as it will have been gather His church. But gross darkness will cover the earth, until the final rising of the Sun of righteousness, through the second return of Christ. Then there will be new heavens and a new earth upon which Christ will appear with His people in glory. Then gross darkness will no longer cover the earth, as it will have been cleansed from the race of godless men who are now corrupting it. The whole earth will then be bathed in the glory of the Lord as shewn forth by His body, the church.