Readings for the week leading up to Sunday, January 7: Part 1 of 5
Readings this week: Isaiah 60:1-6 (Monday), Psalm 72 (Tuesday), Matthew 2:1-12 (Wednesday), Ephesians 3:1-12 (Thursday). The emerging message: Friday
Isaiah 60:1-6 Monday, Jan 1
The glory of the Lord rises to shine on the Israelite nation, for all nations to be drawn to the true light
1 “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you.
- The glory of the Lord now becomes Jerusalem’s light and beacon for all.
2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.
- An allusion to the pillar of cloud in the wilderness, but in this instance a new experience of God’s glory, like the follow spot that moves to rest on one part of a dark theatre set.
3 All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
- A key verse and headline to all the readings. God is doing a new thing, and this is the early announcement. The light of God’s presence, truth and glory is on ‘Jerusalem’, the centre of worship, and this will draw other nations; people of the highest rank will be stirred to come and see.
4 “Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home.
- Much the same words were used in the context of the return from exile, Isaiah 49:18,22. Here a broader ‘return from exile’ is in view.
5 Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy, for merchants from around the world will come to you. They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
- King Darius contributed to the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel, Ezra 6:8-9. Much later, as Temple gave way to Church, Gentiles swelled the numbers.
6 Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah. The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense and will come worshipping the Lord.
- Frankincense was the only aromatic permitted for altar incense and, like gold, was a commodity of the highest value.
It’s too easy to jump straight to a parallel between verse 6 with its camels and frankincense and gold, and the adoration made to the very young Jesus by astrologer-priests from the east – but these were the gifts of tribute customarily made in that culture. Rather, the point is an impartation of light – the glory of the Lord that comes on His own to draw others. This was always the purpose of God’s chosen people: to be His own, who knew Him and knew His ways and showed them to a wider world.
This was the nature of the first covenantal promise God made to Abraham, Genesis 12:2-3 “I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others… All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” The rebuilding of the Temple, the centre of worship, fits that purpose. God is about rebuilding and restoring His present day ‘temple’ – the temple of the Holy Spirit that is you and I, for us to reflect His goodness and glory that others may be drawn to His love.
Too big a commission? We, His church, are in this together and when we, like His people of long ago, get our focus on God’s eternal plan instead of everything else, and how He needs to use us to fulfil it by showing what He is like to others, people will be drawn to His light. That’s the way it works.
For reflection and discussion
1. Where do we see the Lord’s light resting, and what response is the Holy Spirit leading us to make?