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In Isaiah 25 we catch a glimpse of the ultimate international banquet, the most lavish feast of all. It’s a meal prepared by the Lord himself for peoples from all nations. The food will be exquisite, plentiful, and delicious. The celebration will be unsullied by gloom and tears, not to mention national or ethnic conflicts. All peoples will gather to share together in the Lord’s banquet.
When we look at the state of our world today, we see evidence of human sin everywhere. It might be in a park filled with litter, or a bay filled with sewage, or a sky filled with deadly haze. We see the reality of Isaiah 24:5, which, in the NIV, reads, “The earth is defiled by its people.” The Hebrew verb translated here as “defiled” is often rendered as “polluted” (chanef).
Last week we saw how God judged Shebna, the temple administrator, for his pride and for trying to use his authority for his own glory. Today, the Lord, through Isaiah, condemns human pride once again. But, whereas in Isaiah 22 the pride of a single leader was indicted, this time it’s the pride of a nation.
In yesterday’s devotion we were challenged by an assertion in Dave Evans’ and Bill Burnett’s book, Designing Your Life to not waste time on the wrong problems but rather to focus on the right ones. They follow this advice by warning us to especially avoid what they call “gravity problems”.
Sometimes the problems we focus lots of resources on don’t deserve this time and effort. Wrong problems often disguise themselves as important or urgent when they are rarely both – and often neither. Those we lead deserve our focus to be on the right problems to be addressed instead of the wrong problems that others want us to fix.
When my children were young, I loved to go hiking with them in the High Sierra of California. They were energetic hikers for their age and could easily cover a dozen miles in a day. Usually, we hiked along carefully cleared trails. But, once in a while, we’d venture off into the wilderness.
Shebna serves as a powerful reminder of the folly of seeking our own honor above that of the Lord. It’s natural for us to want others to think well of us, and to an extent this is consistent with our Christian discipleship (for example, 1 Tim 3:2). But if we become preoccupied with our own glory, we dishonor the Lord and risk our own demotion.
We tend to think of Isaiah as the prophet of Israel who brought God’s word to the Israelites. Indeed, this is true. But, through Isaiah, the Lord often addressed other nations as well. In Isaiah 21 he spoke to Babylon, Edom, and various peoples in the region of Arabia.
Churches are indeed gatherings of God’s people, but he claims others in the communities where churches find themselves. In fact, God places churches where they are, not only that they might be blessed, but also so that they may reach out to draw others into the fellowship of God’s people. Every church has a missional calling: to proclaim in word and demonstrate in action the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that people might come to faith and join the people of God.
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