"The world's remotest races, upon whose weary faces, The sun looks from the sky, shall run with zeal untiring, With joy Your light desiring that breaks upon them from on high.
"Lift up your eyes in wonder—see, nations gather yonder, From sin to be set free. The world has heard Your story; Her sons come to Your glory; her daughters haste Your light to see."
We are accustomed to seeing nations threaten one another or go to war, so we may look on in wonder when nations gather to seek peace or find answers to economic problems. Countries come together to cooperate in exploring the earth or space or to develop cures for diseases. It may not happen often, but it is a wonder to see the nations working together as they seek solutions to troubling issues.
Our hymn celebrates a wonder beyond anything we might imagine, looking to a day when people from all around the world will "run with zeal untiring" to gather for a new reason. The nations will not come to make war or even seek the blessings of earthly peace. They will come in fulfillment of God's promise because the Messiah has come, born among the people of Israel, born in Bethlehem. Isaiah tells us to lift our eyes at the wonder of it all: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you ... And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you" (Isaiah 60:1, 3-4a). The nations will gather "from sin to be set free." They will flee the darkness of sin because the light of God's grace will break "upon them from on high." They will come, called by the Holy Spirit to hear and believe God's story of life and salvation through faith in Jesus.
God said of His Messiah, His Anointed One, "I will make You as a light for the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6b). Jesus the Messiah died on the cross to atone for the sins of all people. He rose up in victory over death to destroy the shroud of death that covered the world. The crucified and risen Lord sent His disciples out to proclaim repentance and forgiveness to all nations. We too are called to share—with gentleness and respect—the hope that we have in Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 3:15). Through our words of witness, the nations will hear God's story of salvation through faith in Jesus. By God's grace, in the power of the Holy Spirit, they will come running to the Light.
WE PRAY: Lord Jesus, I pray that Your saving love will be known in every nation. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Arise and Shine in Splendor," which is number 396 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Can you give an example of two or more nations working together in a cooperative way?
2. Can you imagine a time when "nations will gather 'from sin to be set free'"? What would that even look like?
3. There are ways to reach remote people other than with on-the-ground missionaries. What are some ways that hard-to-reach people might hear and receive the Gospel?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"