Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let the nations fill the LORD's temple

I have been reflecting on Isaiah recently. I think I'd like to do some more of it. Isaiah excites me as a prophet. It's stunning to realise how much prophetic insight the LORD gave him. He saw some things that the other prophets just didn't.
The Lord revealed to him in chapter 14 how the devil fell from heaven. The Lord revealed in great depth that the Messiah would suffer. This wasn't exactly what many Israelites expected. But then again many Israelites were far too busy worshipping pagan gods to be interested in what the Lord actually had to say to them.
The Lord revealed some down right controversial things to Isaiah. So controversial in fact that it got him sawed in half. How about this excerpt from chapter 66.

And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem.... And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD.

Levites from other nations? How can that even be possible. Aren't they supposed to be from the tribe of Levi. It just goes to show how serious the Lord is about people from all nations worshiping him in his kingdom is.

The chapter starts out with this piece of poetry.

This is what the LORD says:
"Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?"
declares the LORD.

I had always thought of these verses along the lines, "we will build a temple for you Lord through our praises." It sounds nice, but this is not what the verses are talking about. The questions are rhetorical questions. The LORD is saying, "could you possibly build a temple good enough to glorify me?" Follow this up with God denouncing their sacrifices and you would have to say that he is tired of their false worship in Jerusalem. Could he even tire when we worship him falsely? What are our motivations?

The LORD is saying, "look, I'm sitting here in the heavens on my throne, and I'm so big that my feet are sitting down there on the earth. You couldn't possibly build a temple good enough to glorify me, but I have. I have already built the temple, it's all of my creation." If the LORD has built a temple the size of the universe then it needs to be filled with his glory. As it says in Habakkuk...

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.

The whole temple needs to be filled. Who is supposed to fill this temple that God has made? Isaiah goes on to answer this question later in chapter 66, well the LORD does through Isaiah's words.

"I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD -on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD.

People from all nations, will come and worship at Jerusalem. Possibly this is a picture of the new Jerusalem prophesied in Revelation. What ever the case, the temple is not full until people from all nations are worshiping the LORD in it.

I like this spin on the verses at the start of chapter 66, I think it is a more accurate interpretation, and when you think of it, it's a far more exciting one, to think of all nations worshiping the LORD.

There's still over 4000 unreached people groups or nations in the world today. Let's fill the LORD's temple with his glory, with the praises of thousands and thousands of nations, peoples, tribes and languages. This is what mission is all about. I hope it excites you. It sure excites me.

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