Sunday, August 25, 2013

“A Glorious Gathering!” (Isaiah 66:20-23)

S-1378-14SAP/C 8/25/2013 Hymns: (O) #415 vv 1-3; (S) #415 vv 4-7; L.S. #469; #158; (C) #52

Texts: Isaiah 66:18-23; Hebrews 12:4-24; Luke 13:22-30

Theme: “A Glorious Gathering!” (Isaiah 66:20-23)

Question: “Have you been to a gathering and didn’t want to leave?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O. T. lesson: “And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord’” (Isaiah 66:20-23).


Beloved in Christ, what joy and privilege to be among you today. I am honored to be among ROYALTY! You are sons and daughters of the King of the Universe and the Creator of the world; yes you are princess and princesses and heirs to the highest throne in the land—the great God who loves us and serves us still.

With the words of the text before us Isaiah closes his book. In this final chapter, this great prophet of God highlights the contrasts, twists, and unexpected events that the God of heaven is about to do His chosen people—Israel, and even the Goyeem (Gentiles). Isaiah paints a profound picture of the end time and how all people from every corner of the globe shall gather in Jerusalem to worship God, bow before Him and praise His holy name. And what a glorious gathering that will be. PAUSE.

But not all gatherings are glorious. In the broken world we live in is obvious. On one continent—Africa, you have heard and watched the news coming out of Egypt. You have seen the gathering of death and destruction as people are killing each other. They are not fighting for the sake of Egypt; they are fighting for the sake of Islam. And if that is not enough, The American Muslim Political Action Committee is hosting what it hopes will be a gathering of one million people in Washington, D.C., on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 to urge the government to reveal “the truth” about the attacks. Light PAUSE.

But on another continent—North America, on July 20-25 of 2013 another gathering was held at the St. Louis convention. In this place, people from all over the world gathered in the name of the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit to worship, praise and adore His name. At that gathering people were not discussing how to destroy life, but to save it. Here they were not only concerned about the body, but more importantly about the soul; so that it doesn’t burn in hell forever. This gathering was for the wellbeing of every child born in this world.

At this gathering songs of praise were offered, confessions of sin were uttered and absolution given. At this gathering love was the motivation to serve others in the name of the crucified and risen Christ. At this gathering the goal was not to defend Christianity, but to promote the joy the Gospel of Christ brings to sinners burdened by guilty conscience and the peace that reigns in our hearts. With humility, mercy and life together as believers, the gathering painted a picture of what Isaiah declared God would do.

What a gathering it was in St. Louis. You didn’t want to leave, because it was just a little bit of heaven here on earth. People came to this place, by bus, car, motorcycle, plain and train. They came because they loved their Lord and wanted to hear of His grace and mercy given to all people everywhere. They came because they were hungry for the truth and wanted the truth of the Gospel to spread to the ends of the world. PAUSE.

And that is precisely what Isaiah is telling us in the text before us today. Isaiah doesn’t paint man as the doer, but the gracious God who will do these things because He is a God of love who desires all people to be with Him. It is for this reason that God sent His Son to this earth—to suffer the humiliation of the cross, be crucified upon the cursed tree, put in a cold dark slab of death for 3 days and then rise again to gather people from every continent and corner in the world to worship and adore Him, not only for an hour on Sunday morning but forever and ever.

Even the great preacher and missionary to the Goyeem (Gentiles), Paul, in his letter to the church at Philippi stated a time is coming when this will take place: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him [Jesus] and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Here it is royal children of the heavenly Father; the whole purpose of this gathering is to show the glory of God. The glory of God that was revealed to the people of Israel on so many different levels: It was manifested at the Tabernacle, at the splitting of the Red Sea, in the wilderness of Sinai and as they entered the Promised Land.

This is the glory that John spoke about in his gospel stating: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The glory of God was revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The glory is revealed as we gather in this holy house week in and week out to be fed with His heavenly manna and receive the blessings He has in store for us.

For this reason, Isaiah exhorts us to remember what God is about to do. God is the Active Agent in bringing this gathering together. He will forgive them their sins and calls them to worship Him on His holy mountain—Jerusalem.

And that is where you come in. Now, you and I as the Royal sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords ought to be busy declaring the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. We ought to be concerned in sharing the story of salvation of Christ earning our life through the brutal torture of the cross and the empty tomb.

We should be busy, first, in weeping over our sins because we have not heard the call of Christ to go in His name to the ends of the earth, and second, for not taking the life of unbelievers seriously that without Christ their life is going to be spent in the fires of hell forever.

Instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be fervent, active and zealous in offering our bodies as living sacrifices in the service of the Master. May we be faithful in caring and sharing the Good news of what Christ has accomplished for us, so that others might receive and taste be the sweet Gospel of Christ our Savior.

Today, in this place you, who are ROYALTY, remember what God has called you to be and do—His missionaries and ambassadors to the world. Therefore, having been gathered in His name, received His grace, and anointed by His love, leave with joy and share that blessed joy with those who don’t know Him yet, so that we can truly say, “What a glorious gathering this is!” Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


No comments: