Sermon on Isaiah 66:18-24
Text: “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
19 “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. 20 And they will bring all your people, 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. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the LORD.
22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
There are so many different ways to spread information. We share information electronically using the internet, text, or tweet. There is television, radio, and the newspaper. Before that, information would be spread via telegraph, Pony Express, and town crier. When there is important information, we realize that it needs to be shared with other people. This morning, we are going to look at an information sharing that we are all to be a part of as part of Christ’s Church. We are to PROCLAIM GOD’S GLORY TO THE NATIONS. We tell of 1. The Glory Of His Judgment, 2. The Glory Of His Grace and 3. The Glory Of His Heaven.
In verse 18, we read: “I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.” All nations will be able to see God’s glory, because God will gather all into one place. However, when you look at the context of this verse, it is clear that many will not want to see God’s glory. Prior to our text, God speaks of a coming judgement. He says, “See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:15&16) God is pronouncing judgment of his people for the many ways that they had turned away from him. They were turning to false gods. They had fallen into complacency in their morality. They were merely going through the motions in their worship of God. They thought that God would overlook all the evil that they were doing because they were part of the chosen people. How quickly that sense of security would vanish when God came with judgment on the people. They would see God in all of his glory as he came to punish the people for their sins.
While we might not want to admit it, all too often, we fall into the same sort of thinking that marked the people of Judah. Perhaps, we don’t bow down to idols made of wood or stone as they did. Yet, how often do we run after the things of this world, willing to do whatever it takes to acquire them? The things of this world and the pursuit of them take precedence over our relationship with God. We like to compare ourselves to other people, being ever so proud that we are so much better than they are. Sure, we all have a few flaws, but who doesn’t? We get complacent because our names are on a church membership list, as if it really didn’t matter how we live or how faithful we are to the use of the Means of Grace. We, also need to see the glory of God when it comes to his law, lest we think that it really doesn’t matter. To show the seriousness of what God is saying, he gives us a picture of the aftermath of judgment in verse 24, “They will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
This proclamation is not only for us to hear, but, also, for the world around us. They need to know that God is serious about the way that lives are led here on this earth. There actually is a concrete right and wrong. Morality doesn’t change with the times. God is clear about what he will accept from the people of this world and that is perfection. As we warn of God’s judgement to ourselves and to others, we are proclaiming the glory of God. His glory is seen in his holiness, which will be revealed to all, when Jesus comes to the earth at the end of time. Proclaim the glory of his judgment.
How thankful we are that this is not the only glory of God that we see! God tells us in verse 19, “I will set a sign among them.” The sign, which is also translated as “wonder” that God set among the Jewish people is the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. Wonder of all wonders, the Son of God came to the earth. He took on human flesh and blood so that he might serve as our Substitute. Jesus lived his life as our Substitute. He, and he alone, has kept every single one of God’s commands. He was faithful in his use of the Word. He put his Father’s will above all things. This he did for you and me. For all of the times that we have sinned against our God, Jesus willingly went to the cross. There he was punished for all of our sins. It causes the jaw to drop to think that the Father would punish his Son for us, the ones who have transgressed against him so often. We see the wonder of God’s plan of salvation in the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. By means of this act, we know that the Father has accepted the payment that his Son made in our behalf. We are forgiven because of the work of Jesus Christ.
Listen to the effect that this proclamation of God’s glory would have. “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.” (Verse 19) God told the people that a remnant of his people would survive the judgment that would come on Judah. They would go out with the proclamation of God’s grace to the world. It is interesting to note that the various nations that are mentioned are in modern day Turkey and Greece. Think of where the apostle Paul and others did their missionary work, which is recorded in the book of Acts. It is all in this area. God saw to it that the proclamation of his grace was accomplished.
They, in turn, would proclaim that message to others. This proclamation of God’s grace has been passed down from one generation to the next and from one place to the next. By God’s grace, we have heard that message and the Holy Spirit has created the faith in our hearts that makes this message our own. We are saved. We are forgiven. Now you and I and fellow Christians around the world get the immense joy of proclaiming God’s grace to others. God is glorified when we tell others of the wonderful thing that God has done for us and for the people we are talking to. We show our thankfulness to God as we proclaim the glory of God’s grace.
We get a picture of the effectiveness of this gospel proclamation in verse 20, “‘They will bring all your people, 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.’” We have the picture of a great harvest being brought to the Lord’s temple. The people that are being brought in are pictured as an offering to the Lord. This type of offering in the Old Testament was given to God in thankful recognition that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. As people see what God has done for them in their salvation, they are filled with thankfulness. As a result, they tell others and the Holy Spirit creates faith in their hearts. They are brought to God in ceremonially clean vessels, that is to say, they are cleansed of all of their sins. On the Last Day, all the believers will be gathered together as a great harvest and presented to the Lord. This is all done to God’s glory as his grace is proclaimed to others.
The result of this gathering is spoken of in verses 22&23, “‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.” First of all, God tells us that he will create a new heaven and a new earth. This is pointing to the end of time when the heavens and the earth that we see will be destroyed by fire. However, God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth that are free from all of the problems that came into place when sin entered the world. It will all be gone. There will be no more problems or hurts or sadness. There will be no more natural disasters. There will be no more hunger or thirst. The world that the Lord will create on that day will be perfect. This is going to be our eternal home. God said, “Your name and descendants [will] endure.” Both we and those whom God creates faith in the hearts through our efforts will be there forever. Even the best experiences on this earth only last for so long. Then, we have to get back to the daily grind. This will not be the case in heaven. We will enjoy all of the blessings that Jesus won for us for all eternity.
We are told what we will be doing in heaven in verse 23, “From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me.” We will continually be worshiping God. This is not to say that we will spend our eternity in an endless church service. After all, when God created the world the first time, he gave Adam and Eve things to do. Rather, it means that, whatever we end up doing, it will be done in worship of God. It will be our joy because we have the opportunity to thank God for all that he has done for us.
However, we don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to worship our God. We have plenty of opportunities to do so now. One of them is to be present at worship services. There we get the opportunity to put the rest of the world aside for a few moments. We hear God’s Word spoken to us. We come to God in prayers, which shows that we know that he has the ability to answer them. We sing our hymns to God. This is not, however, the end of our worship here on this earth. As we go about our daily tasks, we do so in worship. As we think about all that God has done for us and given to us, we want to thank him in all that we do. As the apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Another way that we worship God is in telling others what God has done for them. This is doing the task that Jesus entrusted to his Church when he said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19&20) May God help us do this. Dear Christian, proclaim God’s glory to the nations, as you support those missionaries who go out in our name to the ends of the earth. Proclaim God’s glory to those you know. We proclaim the glory of God’s judgment, as we point out sin and its punishment. We proclaim God’s grace as we point them to the Savior, who came to the earth to rescue them. We proclaim the glory of heaven, which waits for all who believe in him. May God bless your proclamation. Amen.
St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches ©2023 All rights reserved.