TURN our CHURCH back into a ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER’ for ALL PEOPLE
August 3 Bible Reading: Isaiah Chapters 55-57
"Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants--everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant--even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 56:6-7)
The call of Abraham in Gen. 12:1–3 signifies that it was God’s purpose from the very beginning that through Israel the Gentiles will come to know the true Jehovah God and the salvation that He offers through His Son Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah is building a case in anticipation of such a deliverance from God, and the Israeli exiles are urged to practice justice and righteousness as they keep the Sabbath (vv. 1-2). Though God’s promises had been to Israel initially, no foreigner who has trusted in Him should feel excluded anymore!
God now promises all foreigners who bound themselves to Him that He would allow them to worship Him and He would “give them joy” in His temple. God also promises to “gather still others” from among the nations to share His blessings with Israel (v. 8). Thus, God will gather the Gentiles to His fold to enjoy the full benefits of His kingdom that would include the privileges of His covenant with Abraham and enjoying the life of communion with Him (2:2–4; Ps. 15:1; Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17). Those who are willing to love and serve the Lord may partake in God’s covenant community. To those who trust Him from all nations, God extends acceptance in His Temple, which would be called a house of prayer for all people!
We can trace the background back to King Solomon who had built a magnificent temple for God in Jerusalem primarily for the people of Israel to worship God. However, unknown to Solomon, God had planned to open this temple for prayer and worship to everyone who believes in Him. In fact, Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple at Jerusalem showed that Israel’s God was a God for all nations, and through divine inspiration, Solomon prophesied that foreigners from all over the world would be drawn to the house of worship where God would hear their prayers (see 1 Kings 8:41–43). Israel was to be a blessing to all the nations and a light showing the way toward the one true God Jehovah (Gen. 12:1–3; Isa. 51:4).
However, it was our Lord Jesus Christ who quoted the prophet Isaiah after He had driven the money changers out of Herod’s temple that was built in place of Solomon’s temple after it was completely destroyed by the Babylonians. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had turned God’s temple into a “den of thieves”, departing radically from Solomon’s prayer that it would be an international center for worship of Jehovah God. As Jesus pointed out (quoting Isa. 56:7), it was always meant to be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).
In the present time, as part of God’s family, we are congregating in specific places called churches. Each church is meant to be God’s house of prayer for all people…this has been God’s plan from the very beginning. In Jesus Christ, the wall between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down; and any sinner can today come to the Savior and find forgiveness and acceptance (Eph. 2). In fact, there is joy in heaven over a sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). The Apostle Peter had become the leader of the church that took birth on the Day of Pentecost, and very quickly God clarified to Peter that He is accepting the Gentiles into His family, the Church, through these words: "What God has cleansed you must not call common" (Acts 10:15). So, when God has open the entry doors into His Church, who are we to close them back? (See Rev. 3:8).
Let us turn our church back into ‘a house of prayer’ for all people today! To do that let us not create any artificial barriers that made impede sinners to come into our church like culture, language, or even our attitudes. Let us not turn our churches into clubs, or meeting places to just have fun or a good time. Also, our churches should not turn into places of business that profit some people, like the days of Jesus. Instead, let us strive to edify and be a blessing to our brothers and sisters who attend our church along with us today!