Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-18
In Psalm 80, the people of Israel lament. They have messed up, they have disobeyed, and they desire to be restored. They cry, “O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved” (v. 19). Here, the Lord of Hosts is represented by light. It’s clear Israel has missed God’s face shining on them when Babylon carried them away to exile. With intense yearning, they realize how God’s face had shone on them with the nearness of his presence and his favor. Now, they desperately want the living God of brilliance, resplendence, and light to shine on them again – and to be restored in relationship with him.
There was a man in Luke’s Christmas story who was longing for restoration as well – not because he had messed up or disobeyed, but simply because he longed for his world to be restored. An angel of the Lord came to him and promised that his aging wife would bear a son. But when he didn’t believe God’s messenger, God made him mute. When he came out of the temple where he experienced this heavenly visitation, he could not speak. For weeks, he wondered if he would ever talk again. After waiting nine months, his baby was indeed born, and when asked what the baby’s name should be, a miracle of restoration happened. To Zechariah’s amazement, he spoke, “His name shall be John.” At this miracle, God’s light began to shine once more in Zechariah’s life and world. The angel returned and proclaimed that John would have a place in the restoration of God’s people:
“e will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16 ESV).
God had promised his light would keep shining. And soon, the living light would indeed descend to a manger in a stable. Radiant beams shone from Jesus’ holy face. He is light of the world, and in him, there is no darkness. Jesus, the light of the world, takes away the power of sin and death and makes dead spirits come alive. Jesus, the light of the world, shines his face that we might be saved. As you live in the nearness of his presence, bask in the glory of his favor, and let eternal life shine through you into a darkened world, may this light bring you hope for living today.
Reflection and Response
We all have something somewhere in our life that needs restoration — perhaps our relationship to a spouse, family member, friend, employer, or God. Search YouTube for “Phillips, Craig, and Dean’s Shine on Us” for a musical setting of Psalm 80. Listen and let his love come over you in its restoring power. Let his light give you life this advent season. May his face shine on you today.
By Donna Burns