Isaiah 56:1-8 gives us a directive from the Lord (essentially that God is telling us to be Holy – maintain justice, keep the Sabbath, do not do anything evil – Wesley said it this way “Do Good, Do No Harm, Attend to the Sacarements of God”) AND he gives us a promise (“I will bring those that do this to me and I will gather others besides those that do this”).
In a nutshell, I hear God saying “Do what I’ve told you AND know that I’m going to save you and some others too.”
Isaiah’s prophecy here about God is central to our understanding of an ultimately love-filled God. The God of Israel (and of Isaiah) is a God that commands his people to be holy. But he is also a God that promises he will gather OTHERS too! What a beautiful word!
Last night Sarah and I had dinner with an old friend of mine, visiting from Paris, France. She left the area some ten years ago and though we have stayed in touch, our times together are now few and far between. This time together saw a mark of change in that we both brought our spouses to the table. They also had the most beautiful and sweet-hearted three-month-old daughter as well. All that I could think about was how God had gathered us together again. How despite time and distance, here we sat in God’s grace. Ultimately this grace is that Grace that Isaiah is pointing to.
It’s grace that has impaled my heart. It’s grace that compells me to receive entrance into the story of God. It’s grace that propells me in belief that there is so much more to be done and that God wants me to both participate in and observe all that God is doing and going to do.
After all this is the same grace that clothed Adam and Eve, that went before Abram and Sarai, that honored Leah’s wishes, that allowed the dreams of Jacob, that gave Joseph to Israel…that entered Mary and that saved Paul. This grace burns in us and will burn in others. This grace seeks to gather us. This grace seeks to bring us to the Table. This grace transforms us and re-forms our existences.
When we realize this – we realize that all along he’s been preparing the way. What a beautiful wooing by our God. What a wonderful way to connect us. What a powerful statement for this God of it all. Last night I became aware that God’s grace was gathering us up once more!