Tuesday 23 June 2015

Bible Book:

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.” (vv. 7b-8)

Isaiah 56:1-8 Tuesday 23 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 33


Chapter 56 begins the third part of the book of Isaiah. Part 1(chapters 1-39) deals with the time before the kingdom of Judahfell to the Assyrians; part 2 (chapters 40-55) addresses the peoplein exile in Babylon; and now part 3 is mainly concerned with thetime when they had returned to Jerusalem.

God is speaking - to God's people established in Jerusalem andworshipping once again in the temple. The first message is aboutjustice and doing what is right, because God is working out God'spurposes. Then follows a more detailed exposition of how the peopleshould behave.

The command to keep the Sabbath (verse 2) harks back to anearlier time when God had rescued the people from oppression, atime of wandering in the wilderness and learning to live in God'sway (see Exodus 20:8-11). Once again, the people hadbeen rescued and need to rediscover the right way to live.

There is a message of welcome to those who might be consideredas outside the religious community - and a strong demand that theybe accepted. In the face of the great importance of thecontinuation of a family name, those who were childless were oftenexcluded. But here the message of welcome extends to them, to theeunuchs (verses 3, 4). If they are loyal to God's commands theywill have a lasting memorial.

And foreigners too are an integral part of those whom Godgathers in. God has gathered in all the outcasts of Israel and Godgathers in those who join themselves to the Lord, who obey God'scommandments, who come to God's house, and who bring theirofferings.

Jesus quoted part of today's passage when he cleared the templeof the money changers and dealers in doves (see Mark11:15-17): "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called ahouse of prayer for all the nations'?"

To Ponder

  • Many notice boards outside churches state: "All are welcome".Do you think that is always the case, and how could it becomereally true?
  • Can you think of things which get in the way of churches beinghouses of prayer? What could you do about it?
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