For years, their fathers had only been able to dream of such a thing.
And now, the Israelites had been released from their Babylonian captors. Exile was over and the opportunity before them to rebuild the Kingdom had arrived. What would it look like for this motley crew to rebuild the Israelite kingdom after their 70-year absence? What obstacles would come their way?
Rebuilding would take time, for sure. It would require leadership. Courage. Trust. And not just any trust, but a trust in God’s sovereignty differently than what was required during exile. It would take a different ethos than they had ever before understood or attempted.
This is what faced the prophet Isaiah as he led this reforged community in Jerusalem. You can imagine the hope provided in the words of the Lord at this time:
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 (Isaiah 60:1-3).
Hadn’t this been the hope and dream of the Israelites for generations? Would God allow this to finally come into being? That His glory would rise and appear over them? That nations would seek out the Jewish people and want to know who God was, as the Queen of Sheba had before?
And yet, imagining myself in this situation for a moment, how utterly unbelievable. In the words of King David, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). No, had I been alive in those days, it would be far easier to start living in such a way that would protect me from ever breaking God’s law and keep another exile from happening again. This mindset kept those with it from seeing God moving in each day, and it can easily creep in for us some 2,500 years later.
Instead, what Isaiah called the Israelites to, and us by extension, is a radically different way of viewing the world. It isn’t about survival or simply an awakening to one’s own inability to heed God’s call. Rather, it is from a place of trust that the Lord calls His people—including us today—to look to Him for what He calls us.
Moment by moment.
Theologian Dallas Willard said that “Jesus is available to trust and what you need to do is to trust Jesus.” As I live in this truth more and more, then I will “begin to realize how great Jesus is and that He is actually running the World and that the Cosmos is under His charge. So then, the invitation is to become involved as a disciple.” Our salvation is “is participating in the life that Jesus is now living on Earth,” or as Isaiah put it, to see the “glory of the Lord [that] rises over you” and to anticipate it in each waking moment.
Our role is to find where God is at work. Willard continues, “a picture of a life lived in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God is God in action. It’s God reigning. I often say it’s where what God wants done is done. Now all that comes together and you get a coherent picture of what it means to trust Jesus, enter the Kingdom, be saved and live by Grace. Our most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity, and the name of God be Glorified in her again, as of old.” And we do this through seeking His glory.
I’m renaming this blog with this idea in mind, that we’re not only enjoying the surface—as this blog has been previously been called—but we’re also seeking, and seeing, His glory rise. It is a call to not only hear God’s words but to live them out them also (James 1:22).
It is a call to pause and reflect on the way you have seen God’s glory at work. Where did He reveal Himself to be bigger than us today? Where is He calling you to rely on Him more fully? And to what is He calling you that requires a more radical measure of relinquishing your perceived control over your piece of the world?
For me, in this present moment, these questions once again involve places of security—places of home and of vocation—for my family. We’re moving again with another job transition. This mirror of my soul reflects back my own insecurity, anxiety and fears. It requires me to confront my own lack of control, as well as desire to control things. But I’m grateful for the countless believers before me who have gone through situations far worse than this.
So, wherever you are on life’s journey, would each of us take up this call to see God’s glory rise, and to honor Him in your response.
I’m glad to be on this road with you.