The comparison has had great value throughout this series, but one snag is revealed in Isaiah that forces us to look far beyond the borders of America: in Isaiah’s day, virtually all “my people” were located in one place, a small remnant of Judah exiled in a foreign land. Today, God’s people are spread all across the earth, thanks to the Great Commission of Jesus in Matthew 28 to “go into all the world.”
So how do God’s people compare today to God’s Old Testament judgment of Israel, his never-ending love for his people, and his decision to restore them to Jerusalem after repentance? How do we read the blistering warnings of Isaiah Chapter 34 and the other biblical prophets?
Are God’s people today one nation like Israel was in Isaiah?
No, we are not, in the traditional sense of a sovereign nation with specific geographic boundaries.
But in another sense, we are.
We are part of something much bigger than just God’s people in America or in any other sovereign nation of the world. Isaiah announces and Jesus later confirms that all God’s people around the world hold dual citizenship in a nation called the kingdom of God. This kingdom or nation already has a King – Jesus; a capital city – the New Jerusalem yet to come; and a constitution – the commands of Jesus and the Bible as a whole. Its sovereign borders “in that day” will include the entire planet. But until “that day” the kingdom of God’s people are planted around the world in other nations.
In Chapter 35, Isaiah verifies that his kingdom will not be like other nations, full of politics and strife:
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert…And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness…It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray…And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing…they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (35:5-6, 8, 10; ESV).
This includes even a repentant fool like me, to the extent that I try imperfectly to obey the commands of Jesus and to seek perfect unity with all his children, not just in America, and to think of us all as family on a daily basis. If we are not watching the genocide of Christians in Syria today as the loss of our own siblings and children who all carry the blood of Christ, if we are not shedding real tears, then we do not yet understand the kingdom of God as family.
The Spirit of God has been whispering to me about this kingdom of God more and more as I organize his words in the Bible according to the Cycle. The coming restoration of all God’s family caught up in his never-ending love is a beautiful sound that I once described as Streamside – Finding Peace through Perfect Unity.
But no matter how the Spirit of God whispers – kingdom of God, Streamside, or some other song in our hearts - may the tangible hope and continuous awareness of our perfect unity of all the nations in Jesus be ever on our lips until he returns!