Gathered of God (continued)
Gathered Into Fellowship with God Himself
There is an indication in verse 3 of the doubts and fears of the stranger who has joined himself to the Lord. To him the house of God seems so high and holy that he is inclined to despair of having a place in it. Seeing that he has no nature standing, no virtues or abilities of his own, he is worried as to whether he can claim admittance. He begins timidly to enter in, conscious all the time of his strangeness, and half expecting that before long someone will come up to him and tell him that he is an outsider who has no right to be there. It is as though while he is thus troubled, fearing that any moment he will surely be separated from God's people and turned away from His house, the High Priest himself comes forward and gives him a cordial welcome. He is taken by the hand and led, stranger though he is, not just into the outer court nor only into the holy place of priestly ministry - which he never expected to see - but taken right through into the very presence of the Lord. Far from being rejected, he finds that God Himself gives him a warm welcome, giving him full right of access to His holy mountain. No wonder that his heart overflows with joy! "I will ... make them joyful in My house of prayer."
God comes out to the man who approaches Him on the grounds of grace. He had been forced to reject many who claimed a place of prominence, because they sough to be something in themselves, and to deal with Him on purely natural grounds. They felt that their name, their education, their orthodoxy or their experience gave them the right to demand God's approval. It was these men and this spirit which really caused the destruction of God's house. The greatest enemy to God's house has never been the enemy from without, but religious pride within. Uncrucified flesh spells the destruction of true spiritual fellowship. There is a spiritual significance in the fact that the foreigner, timid and different, and the eunuch, weak and despised, are particularly singled out as being welcomed to fellowship; in the restoration God bases His acceptance on pure grace.
This entrance into the house of prayer is described as being taken up into God's holy mountain. A mountain is a place of vision. The Lord's mountain is where everything is seen in its right proportions in relation to Him. When we are in the valley even small things seem to tower over us, and we are easily governed by petty and personal considerations. True fellowship in the Spirit will raise us into heavenly realms, not away from practical realities but into the clarity and breadth of things as God sees them - to spiritual ascendency, and to fellowship with God in His great universal purposes of grace and glory.
Gathered To Enjoy God's Full Approval In Christ
The second reason for rejoicing is that "their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar." What an amazing experience this stranger is having! He feared that he would not be permitted to enter at all, but now he finds not only that he is welcome, but that all his offerings are brought to the altar and received the seal of God's approval. No wonder that he is glad! Somehow nothing else seems to matter if we know that the Lord is pleased with us. This is the meaning of the burnt-offering - that God is well pleased with the offerer. It is a blessing indeed to know that our sin offering is accepted, for that means that God has nothing against us. Those who have known deep conviction and concern about their own guilt will know the value of the sin offering and the blessed relief of being sure that God has nothing against them. But when heaven's verdict was given upon the Lord Jesus the voice did not say, "This is My Son and I have nothing against Him." God affirmed, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). The burnt offering identifies us with this good pleasure, in Christ.
(continued with # 23)