As the night advances and the darkness becomes deeper, people feel thankful for light and its value increases. In the world where sin and evil are rampant, the light of the Christ that guides innumerable souls to life from death and to light from darkness is of inexpressibly great value. In 2013, we have to shine the light of the Christ more brilliantly by gaining the right, from Jesus Christ, to become a child of God who is the Light and by becoming a man of spirit who is the light and salt of the world.
- The Meaning of the expression, ‘Arise, shine’
God said through Isaiah the prophet as written in Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” This is God’s command given to His children and it is His proclamation of His children’s glorious future.
When the prophet Isaiah proclaimed these words, the kingdom of Judah was filled with desperation and darkness. The whole nation worshipped idols that God had prohibited. In the sins they committed they distanced themselves from God and fell away. God had given Jews many opportunities to repent of their sins, but they didn’t listen to Him and just piled up evil on evil.
In addition, there were threats from neighboring countries such as Assyria, and the national power of Judah had markedly declined. During such a period, God gave Isaiah the scripture that is today’s lesson. In the passage He said that the neighboring countries would be judged. He also promised that the people of Israel would see the glorious future and would see the coming of the Messiah.
Then, what does the expression ‘Arise, shine!’ convey to us today? Today, sin and evil are much more prevalent than at the time of Isaiah, and the world is now covered all over with darkness. At such a time, as God’s children we have been given the duty to confidently arise and shine the light of God’s glory over all the nations.
Then, what should we do to attest to men who have not seen and to people with hardened hearts, God, who is the Creator and what do we do to allow the opportunity for them to believe in Jesus Christ? Jesus said in John 4:48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” In other words, people will believe only when we show the works that exceed men’s ability and those that can be done only with God’s power.
We have to preach the word of life and deliver the message of the cross that contains the providence and the will of salvation to those who have thirst in the truth. Furthermore, we need to confirm the power of the living God through signs, wonders, and power that follow the word. Thus, if you’ve received the grace of salvation free of charge and you are a holy believer with hope for Heaven, you have to complete the will of God perfectly within your freewill.
- To Achieve the Words ‘Arise, Shine’
1) We ourselves have to dwell in the Light and give out the fragrance of the Christ
In a spiritual sense, darkness refers to sin and the world, and the Light refers to God Himself, that is, it refers to the truth. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
To shine the light, firstly, we must dwell in God who is the origin of the Light. The apostle Paul said to believers, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8). It continues in Ephesians 5:9 he said that we need to act in all goodness and righteousness and truth.
Those who live in darkness don’t even realize that they belong to darkness. However, when God’s light of the truth is shed on them, they can discern between the darkness and the light clearly. To the extent that they act more in the Lord, they can cast off sins that they have committed. They also can act in the Light and give out the fragrance of the Christ.
The intensity of each person’s light differs depending on how much they cultivate their hearts with the Word of God and how much they get rid of evil and become sanctified. Some people possess strong light, so they can drive away darkness and bravely manifest the works of God. On the other hand, some others lose strength while fighting against the forces of darkness and submit to darkness.
What’s clear without any doubt is that darkness is driven away when the light comes. The Lord is the Light that has shown over the whole world, so He overcame the darkness and gave us life in the Light. The apostle Paul shed great light on the Gentile countries and spread the light of life in many European and Asian countries.
Then, what should we do? We have to drive away darkness at home or in our workplaces. By doing so, we can also drive out darkness from our society and finally we can arise and shine as much as we please over the whole world.
2) We have to unfold the work of God by receiving the power
‘Power’ refers to the power of faith. It can achieve things that can’t be done by men’s ability but can be accomplished only by God for whom there is nothing that is impossible through His power. Jesus revived Lazarus who had been dead for four days as described in the Book of John chapter 11. In the case of the apostle Paul, extraordinary works occurred through him. Handkerchiefs or aprons were carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out as written in Acts 19:12. And Acts 5:15 records that people even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.
Before He ascended into Heaven the resurrected Lord said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As said, the apostles during the Early Church time and Deacons Philip and Stephen manifested the power and amazing works that led countless people to the Lord wherever they preached the gospel.
That is, laymen members as well as pastors can receive the power and shine the light with it. To do so, you need to prepare a vessel that is appropriate for receiving the power. You must resemble the Lord and become holy and perfect in the sight of God by fighting against sins to the point of shedding blood and casting away every form of evil.
As recorded in the Bible, those who received the power had all achieved sanctification. They were flawless and gentle and they completely obeyed the will of God. The power comes from God who is the Light. Therefore, only when we resemble the beautiful heart of the Lord and accumulate fiery prayer can we receive God-given power and shine over the whole world.
3) We have to boldly proclaim the word of life and the work of God
What if the Early Church members who had witnessed the resurrected Lord hadn’t preached the gospel out of fear of persecutions? How would Christianity have become as it is today? If there is no preacher, people cannot hear the gospel. Thus, believers who have reached salvation by believing Jesus Christ should boldly preach the living God and the word of life and evangelize our family members and co-workers.
Darkness will be driven away wherever the light comes. Likewise, when we proclaim clear evidences of God it will act as the light and totally destroy the camp of the enemy devil and Satan. And it will lead countless people to the light from darkness. Therefore, we need to endeavor to arise and shine and perform a duty as a preacher of the gospel even staking our life.
The apostle Paul introduced himself as an apostle of God and preached the gospel courageously even in a jail through letters known as the Epistles. Although he was imprisoned he awakened believers through the epistles and spread the Word of God. As a result, the believers could overwhelmingly conquer persecutions and the churches that had been established could grow up well.
Like Paul, we as the Lord’s witness should evangelize people in season and out of season in order to perform our God-given duty. In the New Year, 2013, I hope you will become blessed believers who arise and shine everywhere you may go and lead dying souls to salvation and give glory and joy to God.