Isaiah 56:8 The Sovereign Lord declares–
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered.”
God isn’t through gathering! Various parts of the Body of Christ over the years have developed a satisfaction with their numbers, and that has been tragic. There are always more people God would like to draw in! At the time Isaiah was writing, it was unthinkable to most Jews that God would include Gentiles among His people, but that’s what this is explicitly about. Jesus Himself famously quoted the lines just ahead of this when He was clearing the merchants out of the Court of the Gentiles in the temple in Jerusalem. (Mark 11:17) We often miss the fact that it was the area of the temple open to non-Jews that Jesus was concerned about. The desire to be open to outsiders has also produced some problems. The “Seeker Sensitive” movement at times seems to completely abandon repentance, when that is essential for salvation. Along that line, some churches never mention the word, sin, and focus on “your best life now.” That’s a trap of the devil. All that said, God still “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) The moment we forget that, we have lost our connection with the heart of God.
This has been a struggle for me, because I have to reconcile this truth with my experience of how few people accept the Gospel message. There are times when I wish free will weren’t so free! God gave it to us knowing full well that many would choose not to follow Him into eternal life, but He gave it to us anyway, and all too often we make a mess of things. We choose things that aren’t Him, or of Him, preferring the counterfeits of the world to His reality. Some are taking that to total absurdity, insisting that men can give birth and refusing to define what a woman is. The thing is, God wants even those totally deluded, rebellious people to repent and believe so that they can receive His salvation that He prepared for them in Christ. I am never to compromise the Gospel, but I am also never to exclude anyone from the kingdom of God by my judging them. I can think of one example that is astounding to me, of someone I know personally whom I thought was “too far gone,” but God is currently using them in ministry. There are actually many such examples, as I know, but that person really brought it close to home. I am to extend the invitation to all who will hear it, but at the same time not dilute that invitation and make it meaningless. God calls us to repentance and holiness, but the holiness comes after we are saved. I must never give the impression that we have to “get holy” before we can be saved. God is calling people, and I must never fail to communicate that invitation.
Father, thank You for this reminder. This is very much in line with the previous chapter of Isaiah, which I love deeply. I ask You to use me and make me more effective in giving the Water of Life to those who are thirsty, (Isaiah 55:1) so that Your house may be full indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!