Beautiful, photograph, huh? The plains of Africa? Not exactly. West Paducah. Two days ago. (But off to the right you can almost see a giraffe.)
Joshua and I were driving between Lone Oak Road and 62 – not too far from the college – when I became vividly aware of this scene that was developing off to our left. A sunset. But more than a sunset. Somehow the terribly cold air seemed to light up the sky with a diamond-like brilliance that made every object to the west appear to be almost on fire. Beautiful indeed. The photo doesn’t fully capture the moment. (And Josh still isn’t happy about my stopping the car and embarrassing him. But that’s another story.)
As most of our nation – even South Texas – shivers from the plunge of the polar vortex, God surprises us with a sunset that couldn’t be topped from the Lido Deck of a Caribbean cruise. That’s how He does things. A bit surprising at times, but always awesome. (I know that “awesome” is way overused, but I’m employing it to describe the work of God’s hands – so I think it’s appropriate.)
This morning as I read from the Old Testament for my personal devotions I was struck by Isaiah 60:20 – “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.”
Think about it. Here are the returned exiles plagued with all kinds of doubts about God. Does He still care? Is He still at work on their behalf? You and I can relate to times in life when questions like these emerge in our hearts as well.
But what is God saying through His prophet? There is a great future for God’s people! They’ve regained possession of the land, but that’s only the beginning. They can’t grasp it just yet – at least not in all its fullness – but they will be a light for all the nations of the earth. Somehow, marvelously, God weaves into Holy Scripture actual historical events with “visionary” descriptions of His far-reaching redemptive purposes.
The tone of Isaiah is shifting from God’s work in history to God’s work in eternity. The language continues to sound poetic – gorgeously so, don’t you agree? – but we immediately recognize that this is more than grand literature. It is a style of writing that blends the realities of the present evil age with the future glorious reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. The perfect age that is on the horizon.
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’! I can barely wait.
“The Lord will be your everlasting light!” Even John will make much of this promise in Revelation (21:22-27; 22:5). Can you imagine how wonderful that day will be? “They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
Beloved, our Lamp will be the Lamb.
So cheer up, ye winter-weary! The days are getting longer, and a warm green spring is a blink away. And the time will come when Christ our Lord will light up the never-ending day with a beauty that will make my photograph melt away in insignificance.
But, until then, perhaps our great God has smiled on us with a tiny preview of the glory that awaits you and me.