by Dr Kirsten Due
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You were hated and deserted, rejected by everyone. But I will make you beautiful, a city to be proud of for all time to come (Isaiah 60:15).
Read Isaiah 60:1–22
A book’s meaning is often revealed in the epilogue. Think of Aslan’s return to Narnia after the white witch had condemned the country to an eternal winter. Aslan’s arrival is like an epilogue – his conquering presence precipitates the coming of spring as warm sunshine begins to melt the Narnian tundra. We don’t understand the significance of the melting and radiant light without the preceding darkness. Likewise, we can’t understand Isaiah 60 without reading of the darkness in Isaiah 59.
Just before chapter 60, we have one of the songs of the ‘Anointed Conqueror’ – the warrior who comes to do battle for God. He comes to do battle because the people are defeated, oppressed and under a cloud – a cloud of their own sin. They had broken God’s covenant and been unfaithful by chasing other sources of pleasure. They had forgotten his By-faith-alone-through-grace-alone salvation and said ‘no’ to his Spirit. They looked for the light but walked in self-inflicted blindness. They were in a mess and couldn’t blame anyone else.
Because of God’s great love, they were not consumed even as his finger unmasked their failure. Instead, he gave a promise: there would be a coming Covenant Redeemer. And, just as God put his words in the Redeemer’s mouth, the Redeemer, Jesus, puts that word in ours. It is a creating and accomplishing word that brings new life. This word permanently changes us and we ourselves become agents of change. The great thaw takes place, and instead of darkness, we find light. We find he has made us beautiful.
Being a Christian is not like making New Year’s resolutions with the same old heart and motivations. It is to have a work of God take place that totally reverses the direction we were headed and the kind of person we were. Our entire life simply goes on, more and more, in this radical transforming faith. In the words of an old song, ‘Faith received the Holy Spirit and is faithful unto death. Faith rise up to fight with Satan! Faith be strong to quell the flesh! God has done it; faith believes it. None must falter, doubt God’s word. He gave promise: He fulfilled it in his Son the Living Word’.
Dear Father, you have treated us with mercy. You brought an end to our dark ways by sending your Son, the Light of the World. You have removed the barren wasteland of our hearts and healed our humiliation and brokenness. You completely reversed the mess we got ourselves into. Forgive us when we forget how radical a change you have wrought in us. Let us hold onto you – because, indeed, ‘It Is Finished’. Amen
 Lyrics from ‘God Has Done It’ by Geoffrey Bingham © 2002 Bingham, Geoffrey (Admin. by Mary-Grace Bingham), from New Creation Hymn Book. Used with permission from New Creation Teaching Ministry.
Dr Kirsten Due lives in Darwin with her husband, Noel, who is currently serving in the Top End Lutheran Parish. She has a postgraduate degree in psychology and is a doctor of medicine, currently engaged in remote area work in the Top End. She has written a book of children’s gospel stories (Bearen Bear and the Bunbury Tales) with a commendation by Andrew McDonough.