Isaiah 60 is a tremendous chapter at any time, but it is especially relevant for us now. It describes a time of deep darkness on the face of the earth but, in the midst of this, gives us wisdom to know:
- What to do – how to find new ways to positively influence ourselves and others
- What we have – we have more than we think or feel we do
- What blessings to expect in our future – we have the promise of great joy
Here are verses one to five. I have emphasized in bold type some phrases for us to highlight.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. ‘Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.’”
What incredible promises are given here as we arise and shine! Even so, I have discovered we will never fully feel ready to arise and shine. I remember years ago when I felt the Lord say, “Steve, I want you to rise up and be a father in this revival movement.” I said, “I don’t feel ready to do that.” He said, “Rise up anyway.” Once I inwardly decided to believe I was an important father, then I began to see it manifest in my relationships.
We see in the gospels how Jesus created a culture around Him where ordinary people become great, world-changing influencers. It is important though to know that the same culture that created these eleven world-changers also created a Judas. If our goal is to prevent a Judas, we will probably avoid cultivating greatness in those around us. This is not only true in leading others but also in leading ourselves. If we are primarily trying to prevent negative behaviors from surfacing in our lives, we will limit how much we can arise and shine. The “darkness” around us, or seemingly in us, will tell us to play it safe, to bury our talents, to wait for a more convenient time when things are not so dark. We are not called to live that way.
Here are five keys that will help us to arise and shine:
- Overcome the fear of pride or the fear of becoming great – False humility, the fear of pride, and an over-emphasis on the sovereignty of God have caused many to shrink back and neglect increasing their talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). Pride doesn’t mean you think you are great; it means you think you are greater than other people. We all have greatness in us. We need each other’s greatness to come forth. Do not fear to arise and shine!
- Believe you have something special – Isaiah is trying to convince us of this. In response, we can declare, “My light has come. The glory of the Lord is risen upon me. He is arising over me, and His glory will be seen upon me. Family relational health and abundance are being drawn to me.” As we overcome insignificance and grasshopper mentalities (Number 13:33), we will see incredible things in a time of darkness.
- Move forward – Arising and shining imply we are overcoming passivity and fear. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward’” (Exodus 14:15). When the children of Israel moved forward toward the Red Sea, it parted. One of the most important questions to ask is, “What does it look like for me to move forward in this season?” The answer will be a major part of our arising and shining. Whether we do so by bringing greater order to our homes, taking an online course, spending extra time in prayer, or starting a blog, our arising will be a part of multitudes of God’s people doing the same thing. This widespread unity of focus and purpose toward forward motion will have a powerful effect against the forces of darkness.
- Implement the power of thankfulness – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Personal anxiety will try to stop us from arising and shining. We can capture the thoughts creating worry through declarations starting with the words “thank you.” “Thank you, Father, you are working in my family member. Thank you for providing for my needs. Thank you that I will know what to do in this situation.”
- Freshly surrender to God’s plans for us – The coronavirus’s impact has made our futures seem more uncertain, including that of our finances. This added uncertainty may make us wonder what life will be like in the next few years. Although this can be unsettling to our desire for security, these new levels of trust position us for a life and purpose in God we may not otherwise have considered. Just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac (his future dream and prophetic purpose), we have the opportunity to surrender our own dreams and plans to whatever future God might have for us. As we do so, we will have the freedom in our spirits to arise and shine like never before.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.” This is our time.
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ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.