First Monday of Advent: No More Night
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising…
The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the LORD;
in its time I will hasten it.
—Isaiah 60:1-3, 19-22 (read Isaiah 60)
Passages like Isaiah 60 have always resonated with me.
We are living between the first and ultimate Advents of the Savior of the world, in a time when the Kingdom is already here—after the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. But until it arrives in its entirety, our role is to live as children of the King in such a way that we will usher in the fullness that God has promised.
It’s not always easy.
Imagine being an ancient Hebrew during the time of Isaiah, longing for the Messiah that God had long promised. Samuel, David, and Solomon lived long before, not to mention Abraham and Moses. Time was passing and troubles continued. It was difficult to see how God would fulfill the promise that was rooted way back in the time of Genesis, but which was not yet in evidence.
Where is the Messiah? When will we see Him in His glory? When will there be relief from our oppressors? When will we experience the promised salvation of our God?
We know that in the fullness of time, this longing was fulfilled in Christ. After a long advent, a baby was born to Mary, and this Servant-King lived, died, and rose to fulfill the long-foretold coming of the One who would redeem His people.
Yet there is still more to come.
Our annual Advent and Christmas celebrations are reminders that the story is not complete. The season of Advent allows us to both reflect on what God has done in Christ, what He is doing through Christ in our lives and the world, but also what He will do when Christ returns—in the fullness of time.
Isaiah 60 is the prophet’s cry for God to intervene and also God’s reiteration of the promise that His Kingdom will come. This passage precedes Isaiah 63-65, in which the prophet pictures the end of the story when the nations, bowing before the King of the world, finally pay homage and give tribute to the one true God.
As we live through another Advent and celebrate anew the coming of the Christ, we know the end of the story.
We need to hold firmly to it.
Christ has come—and will come again—to establish the world in the way He intended since the days of Adam. As we yearn for the fullness of time envisioned in these verses, in much the same way that the ancient Hebrews longed for the coming Messiah, we have the certainty that God will bring His Kingdom to fulfillment in its time—and then, He will do it swiftly.
And the Bible reminds us about the end of the story again and again, from Genesis, through the Law and the prophets, in the Gospels, and then in John’s Revelation (21:24-26), which echoes the theme of Isaiah 60: The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
During this and every Advent, keep the end of the story in mind. In its time, without a doubt, God will do this swiftly!
Thomas E. McWhertor serves as Director of Constituency Relations for World Renew,a disaster response and international community development organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Burlington, Ontario. Tom served on the staff of the CCO from 1976 to 1986 alongside his wife, Janice, doing ministry on campus at Grove City College and the University of Pittsburgh Medical and Dental Schools. He also held various office positions in Pittsburgh, including as Director of the Jubilee Conference (1977-86). Tom and Janice have four grown children and seven grandchildren, and they live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.