“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Israel was always intended to serve as an invitation to the rest of the world to come and be a part of the people of God. They were to be a light for the nations. Unfortunately, they never quite managed to do that with anything resembling consistency. They got close under David and Solomon, but never other than that.
By the time Isaiah was serving as a prophet, the people tended to look at other nations as the enemy with themselves as the singular bearers of the favor of God. They saw themselves as the guardians of a sacred way of life that needed to be protected from the outside world rather than shared with it.
Isaiah, however proclaimed another way. He proclaimed the coming of God’s Messiah, God’s servant, who would right all wrongs, bring justice to the downtrodden, and righteousness to the faithful. He would lift the people up out of their miserable estates and establish the permanent kingdom of God which would reign over all other kingdoms.
This got them very excited. In fact they got so excited they forgot to listen to the next part. God’s Messiah would serve as the light to the nations the people were always intended to be. He was not going to be a Messiah for Israel alone, but for all the world. He would open the doors to the kingdom to all those who would desire to enter whether they were a part of the physical people of Israel or not. When Jesus arrived on the scene and started teaching and behaving in perfect harmony with Isaiah’s message, the people rejected Him and rejected God along the way. This was too far outside the boundaries of their imagination to handle. They had so misunderstood Isaiah for so long that when the truth was revealed to them, they couldn’t accept it.
Today, the church stands as the spiritual Israel. We are to be the light for the nations. We are to be a place where everyone not only can come and connect with their Savior, but where they indeed desire to come. We exist in order to proclaim the kingdom of God to the world and invite them in to be a part of it.
Sometimes, though, just like the nation of Israel, we forget this. We instead follow in their example of turning inward to protect our way of life rather than boldly sharing it. We make our churches hostile and unwelcoming to outsiders. We create our own language and culture that is so totally foreign to them that they are neither capable nor desiring of being a part of it. Friends, this should not be. The church was made for the world. If we are not for the world, then we are not being the church. Let us make sure we are following in the path of the Jesus we profess to serve and be the light to the nations we were designed to be.