I was recently sitting in the Heathrow airport. Masses of people were literally passing all around me. People from nations too numerous to count. For anyone who serves in cross-cultural ministry, this is a common sight. Travel takes us to some of the busiest airports of the world. After years of service, we no longer see the people, but focus on our books, children, or quick meal between flights.
This time I saw the nations.
Before this trip, I made a decision to read the book of Isaiah. The words of this prophecy caused me to take special notice of the people walking and sitting all around me. God had a lot of things to say about the nations, but it starts with his house, his land:
In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it, and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will settle disputes among the nations and provide arbitration for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nation will not take up the sword against nation, and they will never again train for war.Isaiah 2:2-4 CSB
The thought of watching the nations streaming to Jerusalem thrilled my soul. Oh, how I long to see the nations wanting to learn from the Lord and walk in his way, knowing that a day is coming when wars will cease and peace will reign. I look at the people walking back and forth in front of me. I see conservative religious individuals, alongside scantly-dressed secular thinkers. There is no war in this place. Will the day of which Isaiah foretells be like this?
The Lord will be exalted.
No, I quickly realize that I’m being unrealistic to think airports are true pictures of peace. Instead, they are short-term transit hubs the nations are forced to use in order to travel from one location to the next. If everything shut down and people were forced to stay in an airport for any extended length of time, peace would not prevail. Tempers would flare and groups would form based on ethnic, religious, or personal interests. No, an airport is only peaceful in so much that it can perform its duty.
We put up with mingling with those we otherwise hate in order to get to our destination. Airports are neutral zones of temporary ceasefires between enemies.
Airports cannot be the place of lasting peace as Jerusalem will be, because they are not the place of the Lord’s choosing. Only in Jerusalem will the Lord settle disputes among the nations, because on that day and in that place the Lord will be exalted.
Mankind will be humbled.
The exaltation of the Lord brings a resulting reaction from the nations—humility.
Go into the rocks and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord and from his majestic splendor. The pride of mankind will be humbled, and human loftiness will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.Isaiah 2:10-11
The pride of mankind will be brought low, and human loftiness will be humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted on that day. The worthless idols will vanish completely.Isaiah 2:17-18
I didn’t see it that day in the airport—there was little humility to go around. Most people were rushing and pushing to get their way; their goals alone must be achieved. And idols? Do we still have idols? Oh, yes, they were ever-present in the airport world. They took the form of the latest gadgets, fanciest clothes or perfumes, cellphones, and coffees. There is much to be surrendered when the Lord comes to rule. Will they do so willingly? Perhaps not, but the fear of the Lord is a powerful motivation.
Until that day.
My heart pours out in prayer for the nations walking before me. Oh, that they might give up their idols and worship of mere humans to recognize the salvation Christ longs to bring. If they only knew that they could know peace and security this day, they would not be forced to their knees in the day to come.
Lord, open our eyes to the nations, wherever we find them—in airports, on trains, in malls, at concerts, or on our streets. Help us to see them as you see them, groping in the darkness, that we might share about the Light of Life.
Till all may hear.
Grace and Peace