Isaiah 25:1 O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.
6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
We have always believed at Bethlehem that a great and indispensable motivation in world missions is HOPE. By hope I mean the confidence that we are engaged in a cause that will triumph in the end.
- No life laid down in the cause of world evangelization is laid down in vain.
- No dollar given is in vain.
- No sermon preached is in vain.
- No prayer offered is in vain.
- No candle of gospel light is ever lit in vain.
Our energy and sacrifice and focus is sustained by HOPE—the confidence that God’s kingdom will triumph in the world.
This passage in Isaiah is a picture of that hope. Don’t worry that you can’t answer all the timing questions and all the detail questions about how the triumph of God will eventually come. This text doesn’t answer all our questions about the end. What Old Testament prophets do again and again is give us a picture of the final day of victory—from one angle and then from another angle. Each time the aim is that we take heart, give God the glory, and press on in hope-filled allegiance to Christ and hope-filled missions…
….So the picture Isaiah gives us is one of all nations turned to God in worship, a great banquet for all the peoples, the removal of all suffering and grief and reproach from the nations who have become his people, and the final putting away of death forever. This triumph is sure because God is doing it. As verse 1 says, he planned it long ago and he is working wonders to bring it to pass. Therefore we can be certain of it. Not one life spent in the cause of world evangelization is spent in vain. Not one prayer or one dollar or one sermon or one letter of encouragement mailed or one little light shining in some dark place—nothing in the cause of the advancing kingdom is in vain. The triumph is sure