“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” Isaiah 60:1, 3 KJV).

These words, very familiar to me because of Handel’s use of them in Messiah, always fill me with a sense of urgency! The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is, of course, the second coming of Jesus, the Light of the World. But the initial fulfillment was the coming of the Magi to find the newborn King—the first Gentiles, Scripture records, to “arise” to worship the newborn Savior and to “shine” by sharing the news of his birth.

The prophet Isaiah uses a recurring picture of darkness and light. In Chapter 60:2 Isaiah says, “Darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” (NIV84). This is an ominous picture, and rightly so. In Chapter 9:2 Isaiah says the people were “walking in darkness” and “living in the land of the shadow of death”—not only physical death, which is often terrifying in itself, but also eternal, spiritual death, the unimaginable, irreversible separation from God’s love and mercy in hell!

But Isaiah also pictures the light. In Chapter 9:2 he says that these same people have “seen a great light” and that on them “a light has dawned”. In Chapter 58:8 he says, “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, your healing will quickly appear.” Healing—that’s what the light brings! Malachi repeats this promise: “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (4:2). And, of course, the healing all people need is the cure for sin—Christ’s obedience to the Father, his innocent death, and his glorious resurrection heal the sinner.

So, even before the Son of God had left his heavenly throne to take on human flesh, Isaiah could urge God’s people to arise from their troubled and despondent state of heart and mind and to shine with the glorious news of salvation—salvation from the just and holy, loving and merciful “I AM!” This is where I feel the urgency! You and I, too, can easily fall into despondency, worry, a joyless attitude. After all, it’s still the dark and dreary January days of the northern latitudes, the fun and excitement of Christmas preparations and celebrations are behind us, and we’re left with the clean-up and pack-up once again. Perhaps the spending got out of hand and the bills loom large, or perhaps we got off track in our daily time for prayer and study of God’s Word.

Whatever the cause, we need to heed the Epiphany call, “Arise! Shine!” For WE are not a people living in darkness! WE are not living in the shadow of eternal death! WE, by God’s grace, have seen the Light of the world through the eyes of faith. We heard again God’s incomprehensible promises, made over a period of thousands of years, that he would cure Adam and Eve and all their descendants from the curse of sin, and fulfilled—in exact detail—in the incarnation of the Son of God! We now live in the light of God’s absolute, faithful truth.

But, do all your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors ALSO live in this peace-giving light? I know that in my own circles this is not the case. I also know that the vast majority of peoples around the globe do NOT have this light and peace! That’s why it is urgent—urgent to arise in faith and to shine in our gospel outreach efforts, whether they be sharing our faith with a friend, praying for those who daily work in missions far and near, praying for the hearts of all who hear the Good News to be turned from darkness to the Light, sending encouragement to missionaries, or using our time and treasures to support WELS mission work.

Sisters, let’s “arise and shine” with joy and confidence as we work together to uphold the prophets’ hands—for it is the Lord himself who commands, strengthens, guides, and blesses our efforts!

Lord Jesus, King of kings, before whom one day every knee will bow, shine the light of your saving gospel into the darkest corners of the world and into the darkest hearts! Use us as your tools to accomplish the building of your Church. We live to serve and glorify you. Amen.

Karla Jaeger
Milwaukee Metro South Circuit