The Birth of the Church

Joseph Holbrook, Jr.

READ : Isaiah 66:6–14

Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream. (v. 12)

We have adopted a line of interpretation that sees the closing verses of Isaiah’s prophecy not as descriptive of a conflict to take place upon the return from the exile, but rather as a prophecy of the change in dispensation from the Old to the New. What is especially highlighted today is the suddenness of the change and the surprise of joy that excites the hearts of Zion’s faithful.

The language seems almost too extravagant in its praise when we think of the small beginnings of the Christian gospel. But Paul, in commenting on the same event in Romans 11, says, “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (v. 12).

Perhaps we need to pause and reflect on the wonder of the transition that took place when Christ broke down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles. One of the most touching stories to come out of last year’s (1964) Berlin Congress on Evangelism was that of the African delegate who ran to the platform to embrace the Auca Indian of Ecuador who had just given his testimony for Christ. “The glory of the nations like an overflowing stream” continues to flow in our day. Let us rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad with her. (originally published June 29, 1967)

PRAYER

Thank you, God, for the missionaries who came to our forefathers and evangelized to them. Amen.