Today’s reading includes Numbers 10:1-11:23, Mark 14:1-21, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 10:31-32.
Arise. That is the word that stands out to me today. Arise. What does it mean to arise? I saw two definitions in my dictionary: 1.) emerge; become apparent, and 2.) get or stand up. This is the passage that caught my attention today:
33 They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the Lord, with the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest. 34 As they moved on each day, the cloud of the Lord hovered over them.35 And whenever the Ark set out, Moses would shout, “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered! Let them flee before you!” 36 And when the Ark was set down, he would say, “Return, O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel!”
In this passage, we find the people of God leaving the mountain of the Lord, going out into the wilderness, with the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant moving ahead of them, leading the way. It showed them the place of rest. It showed them to way to go. The ark contained the reminders of His faithful covenant, as well as His concentrated, holy presence. And as the Ark went forward leading the way, Moses would shout “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered! Let them flee before you!”
This was a shout of confidence, a shout of dependence. He did not depend on himself as a leader, nor did he depend on the fighting skills of the people. He depended on the Lord to lead and the Lord to make a way. He depended on the Lord to arise, to stand up, emerge, and become apparent. That is all it would take to scatter the enemies before them—for God to simply emerge and become apparent. It does not say, “Fight, Oh Lord!” nor “Call down fire, Oh Lord!” It says, “Arise..emerge…become apparent.”
The cry for God to arise is found in many other places in scripture. Here are a few of those places:
Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Arise, O God, and defend your cause.
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
All of these verses have the same theme. Those praying these militaristic prayers want to see God emerge and come to their rescue. They want to see His presence. They want to see their long-awaited victory. And He does arise, and He will arise on our behalf, when we trust in Him and when we are walking in His ways and along His path. But then there is another scripture with the theme of arise.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
This is an admonition to Jerusalem, but it is an admonition to us, as well. If we have the Light, we will be the light to a dark world. But we must arise. If we lay hidden we will not shine. We must arise in the confidence that our God goes before us. We must arise and trust that He will arise and makes our enemies scatter.
We must arise, shine because He arose.
He arose from the grave and not only scattered, but destroyed our great enemy of death and sin. We arise out of our fear, we arise out of our complacency, we arise out of our sorrow and shame–all in the confidence that He arose and has already defeated our great enemy.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.