9 February 2012

Isaiah 60:1-17

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you." (v. 1)


The opening to Isaiah 60 stands in stark contrast to the previous chapter. We have moved from a place of darkness and despair, into a kingdom of light and glory. This is a magnificent thing, and a vision so stark given the context. 

God's glory - God's kingdom - shines in the darkness. A new dawn is breaking where there is joy and hope, and prosperity and compassion. God promises God's own people that the time of reconciliation and redemption is coming. And this time of renewal will be even bigger and brighter than their experience and their expectation (verse 17). 

Christians recognise that this moment of en-lightening comes with Jesus. The new dawn of reconciliation and redemption is secured through Jesus' life, death and resurrection - and we are presently living in the time of renewal, hope, grace and compassion of the early era of God's kingdom. 

How often do we recognise that we are still part of this changing, reconciling, redemptive story, and that our challenge is to continue to work towards the full expression of the kingdom of God, even as we partially experience it today? Nouwen says:

"You are Christian only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in, so long as you emphasise the need of conversion both for yourself and for the world, so long as you in no way let yourself become established in the situation of the world, so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come. You are Christian only when you believe you have a role to play in the realisation of the new kingdom, and when you urge everyone you meet with holy unrest to make haste so that the promise might soon be fulfilled. So long as you live as a Christian you keep looking for a new order, a new structure, a new life." 

As these latter chapters of Isaiah demonstrate, God does not leave people in despondency and despair, but instead listens to the petitions of the people, and acts in abundance accordance with their needs. 

To Ponder

What does the kingdom of God look like for you?

Where have you experienced the 'light' that Isaiah describes in this passage?

What are you hoping for?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling (1)

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".