For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.
Isaiah 62:1 is a neglected biblical emphasis today… So many Christians today are living a conveniently free-floating way of life [that] it doesn’t feel misaligned. It feels normal, and costly involvement feels like a super-spiritual option. But to God, church-hopping, self-protecting, me-first Christianity isn’t even recognizable. “For Zion’s sake” defines a way of life that works and prays and tithes and gets involved. Church membership vows could be summarized with these three words: “for Zion’s sake.” But our generation is disinclined to that kind of gusty intentionality.
What’s happening to us? We’re being changed not by the gospel but by the hyper-individualistic ethos of devotion to self. Complicating that is the fact that many people have been wounded by the church. Personally, the worst experiences of my life have been within the church. Why go back in? Because of God. God has made an everlasting covenant with his church, and her salvation will go forth like a burning torch. That’s the future of the world.
…Maybe you need to embrace Christ by re-embracing his church. If your relationship with your church is ambiguous and sporadic and subject to convenience, the problem is not your relationship with your church. The problem is your relationship with Christ. He has made his loyalty clear. He even delights in his church. He is committed to the revival of the world through the revival of the church. To God, the most important thing in all of created reality is his church, a crown of beauty in his hand. Your own greatest happiness is the revival of your church. Are you praying for your church? Are you praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Or will God have to wait to find people who will share the burden of his heart?
…If God were to pour out his power upon us, would we use it for Zion’s sake? Or would we use it to reinforce patterns of religious selfishness that know nothing of his cross? Maybe our first step toward revival is recommitment to our own membership vows. God has made a vow, and he’s calling us to join him in his resolve.
(Ray Ortlund, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, 414-415)
Ray Ortlund will preach the first sermon in the Isaiah series at Coram Deo on February 23, 2014.