First Reading:  Isaiah 66:18-21


Who Truly Knows The Mind of God?


18 “For I know their works and their thoughts: the time comes, that I will gather all nations and languages; and they shall come, and shall see my glory.


19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send such as escape of them to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the islands afar off, who have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 They shall bring all your brothers out of all the nations for an offering to YHWH, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says YHWH, as the children of Israel bring their offering in a clean vessel into the house of YHWH. 21 Of them also will I take for priests and for Levites,” says YHWH.


World English Bible


When this passage from Isaiah was written, Jerusalem stood as shell of its former glory. Completely leveled by the Babylonians nearly a century before, the people struggled to rebuild the God's Temple and his City. But, even those who returned from Babylon tired of the effort. Morale was low and the city remained only half built. To the citizens of Jerusalem, God must have seemed very distant indeed.


These passages shook the people from there despair. Jerusalem's glory would return because the city stood as a sign of God's glory. [66:18] Visitors from all over, both the poor and the wealthy, would come to seek and worship God; their offering would be like the faithful in Jerusalem. [66:20] God would even designate the foreigners as priests, for the foreigners would be a priestly people, just as the Israelites. [66:21] The foreigners would proclaim God's glory to the ends of the earth, for they, too were part of God's plan. [66:19] God would be close to his people and to all who trusted in his providence.


Sometimes our faith is challenged because God does not act according to our expectations, our specifications, or our timetable. At these times, God may seem very distant. But, God works in strange and surprising ways. When he does act, God does not ask us to merely acknowledge his existence. He wants us to trust in his plan for us. He wants us to grow in faith.


How has God surprised you this week?  How have his blessings challenged you to faith?