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When the Crowds Come

Click here to read Deuteronomy 28 on BibleGateway.com
Click here to read Isaiah 55 on BibleGateway.com

“nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” – Isaiah 55;5

Here at EverydayDevotions, we use the McCheyne Bible Reading plan, which suggests reading four chapters a day from different sections of the Bible.  One of the advantages to reading in this manner is that sometimes the passages work together in ways you might not notice if you read straight through the Word.  It’s kind of like when you mix a bunch of sauces at the Mongolian grill – you know they’re awesome individually, but together they can create something truly epilicious.

Take today, for example.  In Isaiah 55, God is talking about bringing all the nations to Israel as a blessing to Israel.  Basically, if they are faithful to God, they will be so blessed all the nations of the world will want to come there and see what’s what.  But in Deuteronomy 28, God says again he will bring all the nations to Israel, but in this case it’s a judgment to Israel.  The nations are coming to see how low Israel has fallen, and to take all the blessings of the land for themselves. The nations will come – either to share in the blessing, or to plunder the remains.

THE ARRIVALS

The same principle is true for our churches today – people will come, one way or another.  The reason they come is what’s up for grabs.  Do people get excited to meet Christians because they want to know more of Jesus, or because they want to see them fail?  Do they come to church to have changed hearts, or because they need more material for complaining on Facebook?  Our churches can be oases of glory, or they can be mausoleums ripe for scavenging.

Of course, there’s always going to be some of each; even Jesus had his Judas.  But God describes in our readings today that he will send the nations to Israel either way – they can either be an example of God’s blessing, or a warning of God’s judgment.  For us, people can come to experience God, or they can come to mock.  They are either drawn closer to God because of what we do, or they are driven from Him.

THAT HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERNCE

What makes the difference?  In a word – Christ. If Jesus is lifted up, if we are dedicated to knowing Him and following His commands,  then everything else will be blessed as well.  If not, then those momentous edifices will be turned into museums or art galleries or businesses.  It sounds simple, yet it’s amazing how often we get distracted from Jesus by emphasizing outreaches, apologetics, compassion ministries, politics, and many other good-yet-not-Jesus-pursuits.

It’s so easy to get distracted with building a nice framework to do our ministry in, we forget that Jesus himself did not have a place to lay his head.  It’s not about the structure (by which I mean programs and policies as well as physical structure), but it’s about serving Christ in a personal, intimate relationship.  That’s when the nations will come for the right reasons. Our first goal must always be to know Christ, and Him crucified.  Otherwise, we become just another social club following our own wisdom, and that can never last.

They will come – why they come is up to you.

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