By Chris DiVietro
We’ve been discussing the extent to which the community of God’s people is attractional in nature. For Israel, the temple was the zenith of attractional worship. As the center of religious life in Israel, the temple was more than merely a religious building; the temple was the holy palace in which the Lord resided as He dwelt among His people. And in the same way that the quality of Israel’s life would attract the nations in, so too would the nature of their worship. This image is portrayed in Isaiah 2:2-3:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills, and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways, and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
A prophecy given during King Uzziah’s reign, Isaiah is describing God’s future kingdom and His ultimate plans for Zion. While chapters 2-12 juxtapose the Kingdom of God with the kingdom of man to show the tension that exists between the two, vv. 2-3 of chapter two paint a clear picture of what will happen when the Kingdom of God ultimately triumphs. Specifically, God will transform the world through His presence in Zion, His teaching of those who are humble, and His judgment of those who dare war with Him.
“It shall come to pass in the latter days,” is an expression that refers to this future time when God’s purposes will find ultimate fulfillment, but the forward-thinking scope of the prophecy is not intended to undermine the message being communicated: The Lord desires those who do not know Him to run towards Him in peace to learn. While God’s presence is sufficient to draw the nations unto Him, the confluence of His presence and His peoples’ worship—all centered in the temple—attracts others.
Even though Isaiah’s vision was for a time at some point in the future, the presence of the Lord still attracted attention and interest when the temple was first built. In 1 Kings 10, the Queen of Sheba, “heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD,” (1 Kings 10:1). After observing Solomon’s wisdom and the greatness of temple, she exclaimed, “Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel. Because the LORD loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness,” (1 Kings 10:9).
If the Queen of Sheba represented a small window into the coming fulfillment, that leaves us eager to know: what is the shape and scope of that fulfillment? We’ll discuss that next time, and begin to see how this reality affects the church’s worship and evangelistic identity today.