Isaiah 56 opens the third and final section of Isaiah which is a guide for all of God’s people in all ages. In other words, these chapters of Isaiah are meant for us.
Isaiah begins by widening the definition of God’s people to include anyone from any nation that binds himself to God’s covenant (56:1-8). Then he describes the type of people who have no place in God’s Kingdom… the idolaters, complacent leaders, deserters and mockers (56:9-57:13). But God provides a way for even these types of people to enter His Kingdom… through repentance.
And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite (Isaiah 57:14-15).
This is the way of the Kingdom…through humility and a contrite spirit. And we see this demonstrated beautifully in 1 Corinthians 12 as Paul constructs the metaphor of the church being the “body of Christ.” Each member of the church has an individual and vital role in the church’s purpose and work in the world.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:17, 21-22, 26)
This concept of “church” is based on laying aside our individualism and working collectively for the glory of God. This requires sacrifice. This requires a humble and contrite spirit!
Isaiah 58 is a glorious example of how the church should operate in the world – working together to seek justice for the oppressed, not justifying itself with empty rituals and puffed up religious duty.
Do you consider yourself a vital part of your church body? Have you ever considered the hole that would be created if you failed to serve or left the church altogether? Even though our culture screams “Individualism” to us constantly, the Bible teaches otherwise. We are members of His body. Our greatest impact in this world is done in the context of being a vital part – not the whole, and not alone – but a part of the church. What part are you?