The Scriptorium

The Great Ingathering

God sends us signs and outposts of His Kingdom.

To Worship and Glorify God: Isaiah 66(5)

Pray Psalm 33.1-5.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
Forpraise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
For the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

Read Isaiah 66.18-21.

1. What is the purpose of the great ingathering described here? What does that mean?

2. Who is gathering these nations? How are they gathered?

In these verses, the Lord foresees a day of great glory, in which the nations of the world will learn of the Lord’s fame and see His glory (v. 19), and be gathered before Him into His City. Everything in the book of Isaiah has been pointing to this time. Let’s have a closer look.

I want to suggest a more literal translation of verse 18: “For I am their works and their thoughts, coming in to gather all nations and all tongues; they shall come in and they shall see My glory.” Some explanation: Most translations insert the verb know as understood at the opening of this verse. I see no justification for this. Typically, only state of being verbs (is, am, was, are, etc.) are omitted in Hebrew, and supplied, in italics, in English versions. To use know here changes the focus. God is not saying that He knows the works and thoughts of those who tremble at His Word (vv. 2, 5) and are born into His City (vv. 7-11), but that He is their works and thoughts. He occupies their minds and directs their works, as they think about and work for His coming to the nations (Matt. 6.10). The result of this is that the nations of the world see the glory of the Lord and come to Him. This echoes what we saw in Isaiah 2.1-4, so that, as in the previous verses (compared to chapter 1), the Lord is bringing Isaiah’s words full circle again. Chapter 66 harks back to chapters 1 and 2, closing the loop of this book with firm warnings and glorious promises, in just the way the book began.

Verses 19 and 20 show the nations offering themselves to the Lord, because He has sent to them “those who escape” – from captivity to sin and death – and He has “set a sign among” the nations of the world – His people, scattered and declaring the glory of the Lord. The Church is the sign that the Kingdom promised in Isaiah 9.6, 7 has come to earth; and the Church is the outpost from which that Kingdom advances among and within the nations of the world.

God’s people seek the Kingdom and proclaim His glory, and the nations respond by every means to come and offer themselves as clean vessels for the Lord (v. 20). And the Lord will take, from among all the nations, those who do the work which, in Isaiah’s day, was reserved for priests and Levites – the work of leading people to God, teaching and nurturing them for lives of daily worship and service. In that great day, all God’s people will be a royal priesthood unto Him (1 Pt. 2.9, 10)

These are the times of deliverance, the times in which we live; and this is the vision that must guide our discipleship as we take up our cross and go wherever Jesus sends us, as signs and outposts of His Kingdom, to seek and save the lost (Jn. 20.21; Lk. 19.11).

1. What does it mean for you to be a sign and outpost of the Kingdom in your Personal Mission Field?

2. We are they who have escaped the power of sin, death, and the darkness of unbelief, and have been born again into the Kingdom of God’s Son (Col. 1.13). What should we do to make sure God is all our thoughts and all our work in these times of deliverance?

3. Paul says we should declare the glory of God (Is. 66.19) in everything we do (1 Cor. 10.31). How can we prepare each day to help make sure this is how we actually live?

For like something consecrated to God, the host of the nations are given over to God’s glory, released from all charges through faith and washed from all filth through holy baptism, like a guest’s gift, as if given out of the apostolic fervor for God. On that account they rejoice, naming him their joy and crown. Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD), Commentary on Isaiah

Lord, help me to be a sign and outpost of Your Kingdom today as I…

Pray Psalm 33.

Let this psalm lead you into deeper trust in God and His Word, and to give yourself in service to Him, for His glory, in everything you do.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 33 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Sing with rejoicing in the Lord, for praise becomes His righteous ones!
With harps and songs raise grateful words, and let new songs of praise be sung!

Joyfully shout! His Word is true; He does His work in faithfulness.
His love prevails the whole world through; the Lord loves truth and righteousness.

God spoke and heaven came to be, and all its hosts His Spirit wrought.
He heaps the waters of the sea; the deeps their dwelling place are taught.

Let all below now fear the Lord; let all in awe of Him abide!
The worlds exist by Jesus’ Word; let all on earth in Him confide.

He nullifies the nations’ plans; forever stands His sov’reign Word.
All they are blessed who with Him stand – the chosen people of the Lord.

God from His throne looks down on men; He knows our works and made our hearts.
Let not Your Church, let none depend on strength or skill or human arts.

God watches those who fear His Name, who hope upon His grace and love; 
He keeps their souls from death and shame who trust in Him Who reigns above.

God is our Helper and our Shield; upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You; to You we yield; we trust in Jesus to the end.

T. M. Moore

Where do the prophets fit with the rest of Scripture? How can I be a better student of God’s Word? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you gain a better approach to and understanding of the Scriptures. Watch this brief preview video, then register at The Ailbe Seminary and enroll in this free online course.

Forward today’s lesson to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on Isaiah. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link for the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Isaiah’s important message.

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.