06/29/T – Citizens of Heaven

Isaiah 60:1-22; Philippians 1:27-2:2; Psalms 72:15-20; Proverbs 18:4-5

OT: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness… Instead of your being deserted and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you an object of eternal pride, a joy from age to age… I will bring gold instead of bronze; I will bring silver instead of iron, bronze instead of wood, and iron instead of stones. I will appoint peace as your government and righteousness as your overseers. Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. The sun will no longer be your light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not fade; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will be over. All your people will be righteous; they will possess the land forever; they are the branch I planted, the work of my hands, so that I may be glorified. The least will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; I will accomplish it quickly in its time.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭60:1-3, 15, 17-22‬ ‭CSB)

In chapter 59, Isaiah wrote about how the people’s iniquity had separated them from God and how their sins had hidden His face from them. Because of that, though the people hoped for light, there was darkness… though they hoped for brightness, they lived in the night… though God’s light was available to them, their eyes were blind to Him and they stumbled around in the dark. But that was not the end of the story. Because there was no one to save them, God brought His own salvation… which leads to chapter 60.

God’s word through Isaiah was that light would come and God’s glory would shine over them once again. Though the world would be covered in darkness, the Lord would shine on His people and His glory would appear over them, drawing the peoples and nations of the world to God through them. All the people needed to do was wake up and respond to God’s mercy and grace.

As with all of Isaiah’s prophecies, there was an initial fulfillment, subsequent fulfillments, and a yet-to-come ultimate fulfillment. God did eventually “shine” on His people once again and call them out of exile to re-inhabit the land of promise. Then He sent the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, to live among them and bring His salvation to the world. However, Isaiah saw far beyond Israel’s return to the land and the arrival of the Messiah on earth. Through the Spirit, he saw a time when the kingdom of God would be fully established on the earth – a time that has not happened yet. These verses from Isaiah 60 closely parallel the vision of the Apostle John in Revelation 21 and 22. There will come a time when all things will be made new… when God will establish His kingdom physically on earth… when all evil and injustice will be destroyed forever… when God’s righteous and redeemed people, those who responded to the Light and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, will live as citizens of the new heaven on earth, and will rule and reign with Christ for eternity.

Jesus Christ has come! Light has come! God’s glory has been revealed! Though darkness may cover the earth, we can shine as lights to the world. We just need to arise… we need to wake up and respond to the Light, place our faith in the resurrected Christ, and allow His glory to shine over us. Then we will be able to live as citizens of heaven forever.

NT: “Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation  — and this is from God. For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have. If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (‭‭Philippians 1:27-‭2:2‬ ‭CSB)

Right now, in this life – for those who have responded to the light of the gospel of Christ and have placed saving faith in the resurrected Lord, we live between the already and the not yet. We are able, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, to live in the victory that Christ accomplished through the cross and His resurrection, while still living in the midst of a dark and sin-stained world. Though our physical residence is on this earth, which is slowly passing away and falling more and more into depravity, our citizenship is in heaven. Because we live on this yet-to-be-redeemed earth, suffering and hardship is inevitable, yet even through the toughest trials we are called to (and are able to by grace) live lives that are worthy of the gospel of Christ. As we live lives that are worthy of the gospel of Christ, when we are squeezed by the trials of this world, we will emit the glory of heaven instead of the stuff of earth. We don’t have to be frightened in any way by those who oppose us, for we are well able to overcome any opposition through the light that fills us by grace. As we remain steadfast in faith, in fellowship with the Spirit, united with the body of Christ, and committed to the purposes of God; our enemies will have no point of leverage in our lives and we will be able to bring the reality of the not-yet kingdom to bear on our presence circumstances.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that by faith (the reality of what is hoped for and the proof of what is not seen) I can live in the reality that I am a citizen of heaven. By grace through faith, I can live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ and can bring the kingdom of God into every circumstance and situation that I face here on earth. Help me to arise and shine with the light of God’s glory as I remain in faith, in unity with the body of Christ, and committed to God’s purposes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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