“Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.”’” (Isaiah 62:10-11 NKJV)Jesus, when he was about to ascend into heaven, gave His disciples this command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Life inside the four walls of the church can be very comfortable. Inside the church we find comfort, support, fellowship, and camaraderie. So comfortable is it that we can forget that the “great commission” begins with the word “Go!” As we approach the end of the age, we cannot afford to be cloistered in our churches. We must get up and go out, go through the gates, to bring the message of reconciliation to the world. We are to go and prepare a way for the people to return to their God. There are four things that we must do.
Build up the highway. We are living in a time when people are rejecting the ways of God in favor of their own ways. This is not new to our time but a common habit of mankind. In the days of Jeremiah the nation of Israel was in a similar state. “For My people have forgotten Me, they burn incense to worthless gods and they have stumbled from their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths, not on a highway.” (Jeremiah 18:15) Even in some churches the ideas of sin and repentance have become out-of-date, a concept for a time gone by. We may not prefer the ancient paths but that does not mean that they are out-of-date. The ways of God are just as relevant today as they were in bible times. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel nor the ways of God. We must be willing to boldly show forth the ways of God to the world that people might know that there is a new way to live, God’s way. They no longer need to walk in their own ways, God has established for them a highway and He is inviting them to “get on board.”
Take out the stones. Christians are like God’s advertisement and sometimes we don’t make Christianity look very appetizing. Our sinful lives can prove a hindrance to those trying to find God. When David sinned with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan rebuked him saying, “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” (2 Samuel 12:14) How many times have you heard people use the claims of hypocrisy in the church as an excuse to stay away? To the extent that it is true, we are to blame. In Antioch Paul rebuked Peter and the other Jews because, “They were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:14) They were saying one thing but living another. We need to get serious about our lives. We need to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. We need to begin to live the faith that we profess so that others can see the reality of the gospel lived out in our lives.
Lift up a banner. There are a lot of causes and ideologies around which people gather today. These causes and ideologies become like banners, or flags, that fly over the group and define the group. For example, politically, there are those who fly the conservative flag while others fly the liberal flag. Inside the church, there are those who fly the charismatic flag while others fly the evangelical flag. Jesus has a flag that He wants to fly over His people, “He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4) The banner that God is raising over His people is love. When we relate and interact with the world, the most important thing they should see is God’s love expressed through us. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of love. In fact, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) We must carry this message of God’s love to the world. We must help them to see, “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16)
Say to the people. God’s message is a message of hope and of promise. The salvation of God is here now and is available to all. We do not have to wait and hope that some day we might be saved, after all, “Now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2) We can have hope that, in what ever moment we choose to turn to God, He is there waiting and ready to answer and save us. And for those who choose to walk with God, in the end, there will be the rewards of the kingdom. “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12) What ever is done for the pursuit of the Kingdom will not go unrewarded. We can freely give ourselves to the work of the Kingdom knowing that our labor will not be in vain. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) We must make clear this message of hope to the world. The good news of the Kingdom is not just for ourselves, we must share it with the world.