“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
There’s something a little magical about the dawning of a new day, don’t you think? It’s a fresh start. If you’re lucky enough to have a few unhurried moments, you can take in the cool air, the damp smells, the sunrise, the singing of the birds, the crowing of a rooster, perhaps the local wildlife venturing out for breakfast…
Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” This is such a hope-filled statement! But if you read that entire chapter from the beginning, you will see it starts with suffering and trials. Actually, the whole book of Lamentations (the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping) is filled with crying out to the Lord.
Suffering followed by hope and redemption is a major theme of the Bible. The Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews, and they cried out for a redeemer. God sent them Moses. He made wonderful promises to His people, to bless them and be their God…if. God’s promises are absolutely true and absolutely reliable, but they also are frequently conditional. IF YOU FOLLOW MY COMMANDS, I will bless you and keep you and be your God. They didn’t, and they suffered. But God kept promising them redemption if they would turn from their wicked ways. By the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah, God was encouraging His people to return to Him and follow His law. They didn’t and disaster struck. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and much of the population taken into captivity. Even then, God promised return and redemption.
After the Roman conquest of Judea, the people were again crying out to God in their suffering. Again, He gave them hope in the promise of a redeemer: Jesus. Again, there were wonderful promises made: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Believing IN Jesus and declaring Him Lord of your life requires following His commands, summed up as ‘love God and love others.’ 2022 years later, with Christianity as the world’s largest religion, an honest assessment would have to be that we are not doing either very well.
The thing about subjugation, be it as slaves to the Egyptians, captives of Babylon, servants of Rome or prisoners of Sin, is that just because you are freed doesn’t mean you know how to live as a free person. The Hebrews in the wilderness didn’t. The captives returning from Babylon didn’t. The early Church didn’t. Our own lives are a testament to the difficulty of being IN the world but not OF the world. And lately it may seem that Sin has the upper hand. Darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people. It sometimes feels like someone flipped the ‘Goodness Switch’ to the off position. Does that mean that God has forgotten us?
Of course not! It only means that we need to turn our faces and lives back to God. He has given us so very many wonderful promises in His Book of Love: The Bible. He wants us to love Him and trust Him and know that if we cry out to Him, help is on the way!
The last, best promise of the Bible has yet to be fulfilled. When the earth is nearly overcome by evil, and all hope seems lost, our Redeemer WILL come. This time He will be riding on the clouds with an army of angels and His Sword of Truth flashing. At that time, a new day will truly be dawning: the glory of the LORD will rise upon us, and His glory will appear over us. “Fighting will not be heard again in your land. Nothing within your land will be destroyed. You will call your walls Saving Power and your gates Praise. No more will the sun be your light during the day, and the moon during the night. But the Lord will be your light forever and your God will be your shining-greatness. Your sun will set no more, and your moon will not become less. For the Lord will be your light forever and ever, and the days of your sorrow will end.” Isaiah 60:18-20
Set your alarm and be ready because you won’t want to miss that Son-rise!
Mercy-filled morning blessings,