Your Light Has Come
Sixth Haftarah of Consolation, Isaiah 60:1–22
Rabbi Aaron Allsbrook, Ohev Yisrael, Springfield, VA
We live in a time of darkness. We live in a time when people do as they please, when they search for answers in every place imaginable—that is, every place besides God’s throne—when they are governed by the dictates of their hearts, when they have no idea where they are going (as in John 8:35). This is a time when people call evil good and good evil, light darkness and darkness light, bitter sweet and sweet bitter (Isa 5:20). And the good news is, it’s only going to get darker.
According to Moses, when Israel becomes disobedient she will be like a blind person groping in darkness, which is really being doubly blind (Deut 28:29). Sin leads to darkness. John teaches us that sin is lawlessness, that is, a belief that there is no universal law or that there is, but who cares, I’m gonna do what I want (1 John 3:4). As we approach the end of this age and the heralding of the millennial kingdom with the return of Yeshua, “the earth will be covered in darkness and the people in deep darkness”—doubly dark (Isa 60:2).
There’s another side to this story, though: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” (Isa 60:1). Isaiah then proceeds to elaborate exactly how the nations of the world will respond to Israel as she enters into the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham for her to dwell securely and eternally in the Land. Much of this echoes Moses’ description of just how blessed Israel will be if she is obedient to the Torah (Deut 26:16–19, 28:1–14). Just as disobedience leads to darkness, obedience leads to light.
Even from the beginning of the story of man, disobedience seems inevitable. The day Moses returned with the Ten Commandments Israel was already disobeying them, and in a bad way. The Tanakh concludes with Israel in exile due to her idolatry and assimilating into the neighboring pagan culture and idol worship. Disobedience seems to be par for the course.
God is pretty good, however, with solutions. His solution is a change of heart, not his heart, but ours. His solution is his Spirit within us. It is his Spirit that guides us into obedience, as it is written, “I will put my Ruach within you. Then I will cause you to walk in my laws, so you will keep my rulings and do them” (Ezek 36:27). This Spirit makes us become the children of God, children who act like their Father (Rom 8:14). In the end we will be glorified because he will be glorified.
Our obedience is based on his grace and the empowerment of his Spirit. In the end, God will receive all the glory and honor. While Israel will be exalted as head above the nations and will be blessed by all the peoples of the earth, it will be so because the glory of God will arise upon Israel (Isa 60:2). We will finally be the people God has always intended for us to be, because we will be walking in his Spirit, completely in harmony with the will of God (see Rom 8:27).
Nations will bless Israel because the fullness of God will be in us. Even our walls will be salvation and our gates praise (Isa 60:18). Moses foresaw this as the ultimate demarcation of Israel amongst the nations (Ex 33:14–23). Moses got a fleeting glimpse of this glory, yet, Isaiah saw a permanence, and it is this permanence that will exalt Israel and draw all nations to her for the glory of God!
When we walk by God’s Spirit, when we lift up the Name of Yeshua, when we worship God with all our hearts and beings, we will get a taste of what this permanent glory will be. The more we behold him, the more we become like him. Even as the darkness grows darker, the light of Yeshua is greater than the darkness (John 1:5); darkness is even as light to him (Ps 139:12). We need not fear the darkness because we have a promise of his light and glory. We have a secure future that is lit eternally. We have a Spirit that guides us to such an inheritance. We need to arise and shine because Yeshua will return and eradicate all darkness!
This is hope and this is what people need to hear. He will take men and women out of darkness. The darkness may continue to spread, but the light of Yeshua will simultaneously grow brighter. What a hope!