In Matther 21 we read the account of Jesus turning over the tables of the money-changers in the temple, exclaiming:
And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:13)
The verse Jesus quoted came from our reading in Isaiah today:
“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)
In the account in Matthew, Jesus was indignant (and rightly so) that the religious leaders were using their ‘requirement’ that the Temple Tax be paid using temple currency, and they were fleecing the common people in the process.
Yet when we look at that reference in context, we see a wider purpose of the house of God than only prayer - in that God’s house is a house of prayer for ALL people!
It doesn’t matter what your nationality, your social status, or even what gods you might have served before - the Living God wants to open His house of prayer to you.
Check out the promises that God declares here:
“the sons of the foreigner...” - in other words, anyone! (John 3:16)
“who join themselves” - whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13)
“who holds fast my covenant...” - The covenant we have today is the ‘new covenant’ in Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20)
“I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house…” - The result of being in Christ is inclusion in the family of God (Ephesians 2:19) and joy (John 15:11)
"Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted…” - Jesus is our acceptable offering to God for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21)
And the great beauty is that we don’t have to go to a temple, we can enter into God's house of prayer whenever and wherever we are - because Christ lives in us through His Holy Spirit, we ARE the temple of the Living God!
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
One of the songs we regularly sing at our church is Passion’s “Come to the Water”- this song is based on Isaiah 55:1-2:
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:1-2)
To me this is one of the most inviting scriptures in the bible, where God is shouting out to the world, “Come to me and be filled!"
Consider the invitation that God is sending...
“Everyone who thirsts” - The message is to everyone, but specifically to those who thirst. Thirst for what? The things of God.
“You who have no money, come, buy, and eat…without price” - It doesn’t matter what your economic status, the things God will give us don’t come at a price. God will freely quench the spiritual thirst and satisfy the spiritual hunger of those who come to Him.
"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” - This is powerful and relevant statement. Consider for a moment all of the wealth that is spent on material things; cars, clothes, vacations, entertainment, and while these things can be fun and exciting, in the end they will not satisfy the hunger of the human soul.
God implores us to listen carefully, pay attention, and eat what is good! Feast at the table of Almighty God, drink in the Living Water of His Son, Christ, and our soul will delight in the abundance that is ours!
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” (1 Peter 1:3-4)
In honor of my savior, who died for me… Isaiah 53:
1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?
2 My Servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins!
5 But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned, He was led away. No one cared that He died without descendants, that His life was cut short in midstream. But He was struck down for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave.
10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Him and cause Him grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands.
11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of His experience, my righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins.
12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier, because He exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)
Everyone loves good news: “The baby came, and she’s beautiful!” “We’re getting married!”
Goods new can be especially good when it involves the avoidance of something negative… “Your tests came back, and the tumor was benign.” “I’m only going to give you a warning ticket."
And something is always special about the bearer of good news. Suddenly that person is our new best friend!
If you think about it, we as Christians bear the best news ever: Jesus died for our sins, and we can be assured victory in this life, and a place in Heaven, if we trust in Him!
And the bearer of this good news is truly someone special, because that person has brought news that changed the life of the recipient forever!
Christian, it's a beautiful thing to partner with God to bring salvation to another human being, to bring glad tidings of good things, to proclaim salvation.
The stakes couldn’t be higher - you’re saving them from eternity in hell.
The blessings couldn’t be bigger - you’re offering them eternity in heaven.
Consider that this week as you pray for the person you’re going to invite to Easter Service!