“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.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.” Isaiah 60:1-5
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
I’m prone to forget just how big our God’s work is. Often, I tend to make myself the center of the universe and I carry that kind of thinking into my relationship with God. That way of thinking leads me to focus only on what God has done for me in Jesus. No doubt, He has done some amazing things for me. He has forgiven my sin. He has rescued me from the power of death. He has won me eternal life. All these things are true, but there is even more to the work of God than what he has done for me personally.
This last verse of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (along with the passage from Isaiah 60) expands my vision to see the work God has done for me is just a part of the even bigger work He has done and is still doing in the world. The work of Jesus is for me and does include me, yes. But it isn’t about me alone. There’s more to the life of faith than Jesus and me.
God’s plan involves drawing entire nations to himself. Isaiah paints a picture of the Lord’s glory shining like a light that all nations can see. Like insects who can’t stay away from a light bulb, the people of the earth see the light of the Lord and are drawn to it. Even the sons and daughters who are far away come to that light.
We know that light is Jesus, who calls himself “the light of the world.” (John 8:12). The good news of his death and resurrection means marvelous things not just for you, but for people across the globe. Just as Jesus works to draw you to himself in a close relationship, He works to create relationships between himself and others around the world. As you read this, Jesus is drawing people to himself from other continents, from other languages, from other backgrounds. His plan includes people that look like you and people that don’t. It includes people you’d be likely to hang out with and people you might never in a million years think about hanging out with. There’s something tremendously beautiful about that.
In a world that often feels so divided and so broken, this particular song and prayer for Jesus’ coming captures our hearts in a powerful way. When we step outside ourselves and consider the world around us, we yearn for unity. We long for peace. Want a world where we can all be one and rejoice in our togetherness. We sing this song and pray this pray because we know that someday Jesus will bring unity that will never be broken and that he will bring a peace that will never fade away. He has begun this unifying work through the cross and the empty tomb, and someday, he’s going to finish that work and create a world the heart of humankind is in fact going to be bound as one. Come quickly, Lord! May it be so!
O King of the nations,
the ruler they long for,
the cornerstone uniting all people:
Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.
- How does it feel to know that Jesus’ work not only includes you, but also extends to people all across the globe?
- How have you seen Jesus working to bring peace and unity in your own life recently?