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"They will declare My glory
'God’s Plan to Use His Church to Glorify His Name Among the Nations' (Isaiah 66:18) is part 1 of a 4 part series on Isaiah 66:18-22. God shows His great power by using a unwilling people to willinging complete His great will, to bring His light to the nations!
“For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. 19 “And I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations. 20 “Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21 “I will also take some of them for priests and for Levites,” says the LORD. “For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure.” (Isaiah 66:18-22).
As we look at these verses, we find that God is a very active participant in missions. He is not distantly involved but powerfully working to bless any who join Him in His work. Jesus pointed to this mission just before leaving the earth. Missions is sponsored by Him and He likes to grant His power to those who are involved as He is. That being said, He is not happy when people who have His grace hold it back for their selves.
This is what happened with Israel. At the end of Isaiah, judgment has come upon them along with the other nations. Their greatest sin, perhaps, is to withhold grace that was given to them to share with others. We will focus on God’s determination, ability, and plan to glorify His Name among the nations. We see these act as prophecies of what will happen in the future.
“For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory.”
This, of course, is God’s Word to Israel. But if we are not careful, we will miss the main purpose of this message. When we look at the verses prior to it (15-17), two distinct aspects shape our understanding of this passage.
(1) First of all, God is speaking to Israel when He says, “I know their works and thoughts.” Although Isaiah had much to say to the nations, his prime message was to Israel including this passage. It is odd, to see that God is here rebuking His own people. One would think this description to fit the heathen who have never heard, but it is odd to see it pegged upon God’s own people.
(2) Secondly, this is a word of judgment rather than one of reward. It is true that we usually think of God displaying his glory associated with salvation, but many times in the scriptures it is associated with a release of His wrath. (Revelation 15 is a song of Moses after the destruction of the Egyptian army is recorded to help us picture the glory of God shown in the judgment of the whole world). The Lord points out both their works and thoughts were quite inappropriate. These words were not a compliment but an exposure of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
Israel was called to shine forth God’s light and truth to the nations. The plan was that God would so utterly bless Israel in her obedience, that all the other nations would want to come and be part of Israel and worship God. An example of this was during King Solomon’s time when people came from afar to see the great things God was doing in Israel.
People wrongly ascertain God when they state that He did not show compassion in the Old Testament. He did. He made the way for grace to reach the nations. The problem was that Israel refused to shine forth her light. She disobeyed and held the Word of God tightly within her borders. Jonah has become a clear example of Israel’s reluctance to bring God’ truth to the ends of the world.
(1) Bring His glory to the ends of the world, that is, it was going to impact all the nations and (2) He was going to work through His people in accomplishing this.
These two things, though, were not happening. The glory of God was not going to the nations and His chosen people refused to bring it. Actually, at this point in Isaiah, they had gone so corrupt that even if they started bringing God’s message, it would not have attracted others to God. They were not obedient and did not have God’s blessing in their lives.
So, what was God going to do? Was he bound? Not at all.
Not only an Ancient Problem
Israel’s stubbornness, as seen in Isaiah 66, seemingly brought a crisis to God’s plan but no man can thwart God’s plan. God simply brought forth a plan within His former plan. We will look more at this in a moment. This is God’s great mystery.
On the other hand, we would be blind not to see how God’s people today too can also share in that form of stubbornness. We see three manifestations of this resistance against God’s plan.
Loss of outward thrust (self-focused)
Loss of testimony (decrepit)
Presence of judgment
I would like to read a letter that I had recently received from South Africa. This email helps us both get a glimpse of how dead the church can be but also how alive it can be when someone devotes himself to God’s work!
Praise God for the work you have done on discipleship training. It is exactly what I am looking for. I am involved in youth evangelism and motorcycle ministry. The Lord has favoured us with thousands of conversions but the churches! Oh brother they are fast asleep. To wake them up to help bring in and train up these new converts is a major job all by itself. I am busy developing a mentorship/discipleship training program to introduce among this generation upon which I believe God is about to pour out His Spirit like never before according to the prophecy of Joel. We are indeed in the time of Rev. 18 with all the occultism, drugs and sex so rife among this generation of teens. Satan is really freaking out at them for fear of what God is busy doing and yet the "old men in the churches" are dreaming.
Missions has two aspects, both salvation and sanctification. Many churches have evangelical meetings without any follow up. That is like a happy mother holding the baby boy but didn’t take care of him. We need to be careful less this judgment doesn’t rest upon our own lives. God is determined to bring the glory of His Name to the nations. As He has shown to Israel, He can do it with Israel or without them.
Missions is about the Lord working through our lives. If we, as a church, or as individuals, are not poised to be an instrument of God’s grace to another, then we are not serving God’s purpose. If we do not take an active step to participate in His mission, then we will like many others default to being inactive.
Serious steps include: serious praying, devoted giving and deliberate cooperation in the mission movement. We might need to make sacrifices, but the mission will give us the extra drive and passion to do that. I have seen churches with tight budgets stop giving to missions. That is just like killing the church. The light will go out. We dare not live for ourselves. God is love. Without the outflow to others, God will quickly shut up the tap.
￼On the other hand, God will empower those people and churches who fix themselves to further God’s purpose. the end, we must make a decision whether we understand our calling to bring His glory to thhe nations. What is your decision? What are you doing?