“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:1).
Some argue that this last-days church is not barren. They would point to all the super churches, the many ministries, and the multitudes who attend religious seminars, conferences, and concerts and devour religious books, tapes, and videos. But what God calls spiritual children and what the church has been calling children are two very different things. While the church has focused on growth in numbers, influence and success, Paul is crying out, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you . . .” (Galatians 4:19). Paul would say, “Don’t tell me how many attend your church. Don’t tell me how many attend your functions, how much literature you distribute, how many Bibles you send out—tell me how many are being formed into the likeness of Christ!”
I believe God will look upon the past twenty to thirty years as a time of famine of the Word; as years the cankerworm has eaten; years of self-seeking; years of strangers being exalted in God’s house; years of proud preachers, money madness, empire building and shallowness. “They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children” (Hosea 5:7). “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed; how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” (Jeremiah 2:21).
God promises that the barren, last-days church is going to give birth to a great ingathering of children. “Enlarge . . . spare not . . . lengthen . . . strengthen . . . For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left” (Isaiah 54:2-3). God is going to remove the shame and reproach of the last-days church. “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood anymore” (Isaiah 54:4).