Isaiah 56:6-7 “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to serve him,
to love the name of the Lord,
and to worship him,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant–
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.”
This is a marvelous promise that Jesus Himself quoted when He drove the merchants out of the Court of the Gentiles of the temple in Jerusalem. (Matthew 21:12-13) It is vitally important for every Gentile believer, because we aren’t physical descendants of Abraham, but rather heirs by faith. (Romans 4:11-17) However, we would do well not to take this lightly at all. Today there are some who espouse what they call “Replacement Theology,” saying that the Church has completely replaced physical Israel in God’s plan, but that is just an excuse for antisemitism, and is a lie of the devil. This passage gives the conditions under which Gentiles will be accepted, and it is certainly a call to total commitment. “Cultural Christians” would hardly qualify! We tend to delight in the promises of God and revel in His grace, but overlook the context of those promises and take His grace for granted. How foolish! Imagining God to be like Santa Claus, we fail to fear Him, and so lose all pretense of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) We need to keep the door of the Church open for all who will come in truth, as this passage describes, but we must not think that salvation is “into bliss and out of blister,” as my grandfather used to say. Those who would follow God as His children need to follow indeed, and not go off however they please.
I have always had a strong antipathy to legalism, but I must not let that dull me to the reality that I serve a holy God who is more than worthy of total devotion. I spent far too much of my life in pride, thinking I had somehow earned God’s blessings! I am the product of generations of people who were committed to God, but that is certainly nothing I could choose, or somehow bring about after the fact. Just as Paul made it clear that physical descendants of Abraham need to commit to Jesus Christ in faith even as Gentiles do, (Romans 10:1-4) my pedigree in no way excuses me from total commitment to my Lord. I am as much in need of the grace of God as someone who has lived their life in total ignorance of God, but His salvation is equally available to us both. I must remember that evangelism is indeed “one beggar telling another where to find bread.” My goal is indeed that God’s house would be a house of prayer for all nations.
Father, thank You for this reminder. You continue to give me fresh challenges in sharing Your Gospel. Help me not shy away from any of them, but make the most of every opportunity, just as Paul said, (Colossians 4:5) so that as many as will may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!