Thought from Isaiah 63:15-64:12

by Frank Jones


“Did you notice the telling similarity of wording in 63:14 (‘your mansion of holiness and beauty’) and 64:11 (‘our house of holiness and beauty’)? The former is the Lord’s heavenly habitation, and the latter the early house where he promised to live among his people (cf., Exod. 25:8). The former is inviolable in holiness and beauty; the latter, given into the charge of his earthly people, is caught up int he disaster caused by their sin (cf., Ps. 74:4-7). In the divine intention the earthly was meant to be the replica of the heavenly (cf., Exod. 25:40). The truth remains the same today: the Lord’s earthly people are themselves the temple in which he lives by his Spirit (I Cor. 3:16), the locus and display of his holiness and beauty. Well may we mourn that our sinfulness, divisiveness, our failure in biblical distinctiveness, and our manifest lack of holiness have marred the image. Who, looking at today’s church — denominational or local — can see the likeness of Jesus? And this is not a matter only of denominational failure, thought that is all too plain. The Bible knows nothing of our ‘denominationalism’, and if Isaiah’s wording prompts us to put our hand to reform and renovation then its proper focus is the local church to which we each belong. When we look at the merest sliver of a crescent, then we don’t say, ‘Oh, there’s part of the moon’. We say, ‘Look, there’s the moon.’ In the same way each local church, however small, or in the eyes of onlookers, insignificant — is meant to be a mirror and image of the whole, an earthly replica of the heavenly reality where Christ is all. We should be able to look at the fellowships to which we belong and say, ‘There is the Church’, bearing the two outstanding marks of holiness and beauty; obeying the command, ‘Be holy because I am holy’ (Lev. 19:3), and display the beauty of Jesus in all its gatherings, relationships, and individual characters.” (Motyer, Alec. Isaiah by the Day,306.)