FOUR DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING, 27-30 MAY 2020

THEME: SEEKING THE LORD ON HIS HOLY MOUNTAIN AND AT HIS THRONE OF GRACE AND MERCY

TOPIC: PROMISE OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN

1. INTRODUCTION

This message forms part of the preaching ministration for All Nations Centre’s four days of prayer and fasting under the overarching theme of, ‘Seeking the Lord on His holy mountain and at His throne of grace and mercy’.

The theme is a combination of central thought from Isaiah 56:6-7 and Hebrews 4:16.

The topic of this message is drawn from Isaiah 56, and is captioned, ‘The promise of the holy mountain’ That said, let’s get into God’s word.

2. TEXT:

3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.” 4 For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever. 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:3-7)

This message is in two parts:

First, we will do a quick canter through the Bible to see the role that mountains have played in God’s economy, or in the way that God has dealt with mankind through the ages.

The key question is: What are the promises of the mountain generally? Secondly, we will look specifically at our text to see what God is saying to us as per the promise of the mountain.

3. MOUNTAINS IN THE BIBLE AND IN GOD’S ECONOMY

Mountains hold a significant place in the Bible and in the economy of God. We see that in the Old and New Testament. The Bible says that God is in the heavens. Even though He fills the universe, heaven is His place of abode.

Because He is high in the heavens, mountains became symbols of being close to God. When we look at the Bible narratives, we see that mountains became a place where people encountered and experienced God. So, invariably, people would be led or directed by God to go up there to seek His face, and offer sacrifices and prayers to Him.

Let’s consider the following examples:

3.1 Mount Ararat – the place of renewal (of God’s covenant with man).

Mount Ararat is the mountain mentioned in Genesis 8. It is the mountain where Noah’s ark landed and Noah saw the rainbow of God’s promise. Noah and his family came out of the ark and made offerings and praised God. God promised never to destroy the earth with a flood of that magnitude again.

3.2 Mount Moriah (Mount Gerizim) – the place of total surrender, sacrifice, and Divine provision.

This is the place that Abraham, who was commanded to sacrifice his Son, Isaac, went to, in Genesis 22. Abraham ascended this mountain in order to sacrifice to God. He had the firewood, knife but no animal with which to perform the sacrifice. He was willing to offer up the life of his son, Isaac, to God. God saw his faith and came through miraculously, affirming Abraham, providing a ram and thus Isaac was spared.
3.3 Mount Sinai – Divine instruction, revelation and direction Mount Sinai is where Moses received the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy and Exodus.

The people of Israel had been delivered, but they desperately needed revelation, direction, structure and assurance. Moses went to the top of the mountain and talked with God. He returned with the Ten Commandments, which was what they needed in order to live cohesively as God’s chosen community of people.

3.4 Mount Carmel – place of Divine confrontation and victory.

In 1 Kings 18, we see a great spiritual victory won by God through Elijah as he confronted and made mince meat, spiritually and otherwise, of the prophets of Baal. It was on this mountain that Elijah proved to the people that Yahweh is the only true and living God. He called down fire from heaven to ignite and consume a water-soaked sacrifice. After that, the prophets of Baal were put to the sword and the drought that had besieged the land was ended.

3.5 Mount Hermon / Mount Tabor – the place of transfiguration – revelation of God’s glory.

In the New Testament we read of Mount Hermon. This is a series of three peaks on the border of Syria and Lebanon. It is considered to be the place of Jesus’ transfiguration. Mount Tabor is another mountain that has traditionally been considered the Mount of Transfiguration. Mount Tabor is found in Lower Galilee. The Transfiguration was an event in the New Testament when Jesus’ glory was revealed to those with him. It was also a visual representation of heaven meeting earth. When we come to the mount, we should expect to experience supernatural transformation.

3.6 Mount Olivet – the place of agonising prayer and total surrender.

The Mount of Olives is one of the key places in Jesus’ earthly ministry that is mentioned in the New Testament. It was a pivotal mountain in his life. It was the foot of this mountain that held the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prayed before his crucifixion. It was also this mountain that saw his last days on Earth. He ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives. When we come to the mount of God, we should expect to agonise in prayer and come to a place of absolute surrender to the will of God.

SUMMARY:

From these examples, the mountain is a place of:

(i) renewal;

(ii) total surrender sacrifice, and Divine provision;

(iii) Divine instruction, revelation and direction;

(iv) Divine confrontation and victory;

(v) transfiguration – revelation of God’s glory;

(vi) agonising prayer and total surrender.

4. OTHER ASPECTS OF THE MOUNTAIN

These include:

4.1 The mountain: Place where God dwells (place of Divine habitation)
This is a promise of meeting with God in His dwelling place. So, let us come – humbly and expectantly.

4.2 The mountain: A place of elevation This is a natural consequence of what the mountain is – a place that is elevated or raised high. As in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Let us come up high. The scripture says that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So, let us come and take our rightful place – above the tumult, above the cares, above the chaos and doubts of this life.

4.3 The mountain: A place of protection (security). This again is a logical consequence of the mountain. It gives you a vantage point. That makes it a secure or protected place. God promises us protection on the mountain where He dwells.

4.4 The mountain: A place of Divine instruction and direction.

We have touched on this. The promise, as happened with Moses, is that He will instruct and direct His people. The promise is also one of using His law to provide order and structure in our lives as individuals, families and as a community of grace.

When we look specifically at the text in Isaiah 56, we see the following:
3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.” 4 For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever. 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:3-7)

5. THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN: GOD’S PROMISE TO OUTSIDERS AND OUTCASTS (THE FOREIGNER AND EUNUCHS)

5.1 A place of inclusion This is an obvious truth that is inherent and flows from the invitation in the text. For the foreigner and eunuch; the outsiders and outcasts; those previously excluded and rejected; the marginalized and those excluded by society, God says, ‘you are accepted’.
5.2 A memorial A memorial is ‘a statue or structure established to remind people of a person or event’ God says that you will always be remembered.
5.3 An everlasting name that is better than that of sons and daughters This is connected to having a memorial. Your name will be on the statute and it will never be forgotten. God further says that your name will better than that of sons and daughters.
5.4 Joy God’s promise is that on His holy mountain you will experience joy. This is about the joy of the Lord, which is the source of the believer’s strength.

5.5 Acceptance of their burnt offerings and sacrifices When we come with the right attitude, mindset and in the right condition, God’s promise is that our offerings and sacrifices, represented by our prayers, will be accepted by Him. This promise calls for a note of thanks from us to God.

Lastly, God has set out the conditions for all that will come to His holy mountain:
5.6 God’s condition for all outsiders and outcasts For eunuchs: ‘…Keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant…’
For foreigners: 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant’
These verses show us that God’s condition is about OBEDIENCE TO HIS LAWS OR COVENANT: ‘those who obey me and please me by keeping my covenant, especially refusing to desecrate the Sabbath’.

6. SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

God has invited us to His holy mountain, allied to His promises. We need to respond.
6.1 The mountain is the place of: (i) Renewal; (ii) Total surrender, sacrifice, and Divine provision; (iii) Divine instruction, revelation and direction; (iv) Divine confrontation and victory; (v) Transfiguration – revelation of God’s glory; (vi) Agonising prayer and total surrender.

6.2 The mountain is also:

• A place where God dwells

• A place of elevation

• A place of protection (security)

• A place of Divine security and direction

6.3 God makes a number of wonderful promises for outsiders and outcasts who approach His holy mountain:

• Inclusion

• Memorial

• An everlasting name that is better than that of sons and daughters

• Joy

•Acceptance of their sacrifices and offerings

All He asks is that we obey and please Him by keeping my covenant. He calls us to a life of obedience.

So, let us come humbly, obediently and expectantly and every promise that He has made will be ours in Jesus’ name.

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