“Criteria To Belong To The House Of Prayer For All Nations!”(Is.56:1-8).
“This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.’ And let not any eunuch complain, ‘I am a dry tree.’ For this is what the LORD says: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant – to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. 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 the holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer…My house will be declared a house of prayer for all nations…”
We have said so much about God’s insistence on the excercise of justice. The text also emphasises the importance of not desecrating the Sabbath by doing evil at the same time that the Sabbath is being observed. If there is such emphasis it means that it’s something that was rampant.
May be it is as rampant now as it was then. If that is so, then the message is to us as well.
Isaiah’s prophecy here is Messianic. It points to a future time which was fulfilled in Christ Jesus.
Again the message is an inclusive message. It is one of such messages challenging Jewish particularism and exclusivism whereby the Jews thought that outsiders and some categories of persons are excluded from salvation.
For several generations foreigners who came to live among the Jews were excluded from worship. In the Passover regulations a foreigner was not to eat of it(Ex.12:43).
Eunuchs were also another stigmatized group of people who were exempted from worship. “No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD”(Dt.23:1).
To the eunuchs whose only regret in life is that their name will not be remembered when they die, the LORD promises them “a memorial, and a name better than sons and daughters…an everlasting name that will not be cut off.”
To buttress Isaiah, the Lord Jesus Christ says “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven…”(Mt.19:12). Thanks for the inclusiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ, the very first African Church was founded by the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized by Philip (cf. Acts 8:26-40).
The favoured of the LORD are no longer only the descendants of Abraham through consangenuity. The favoured of the LORD are those who like Abraham believe and obey and it is reckoned to them as righteousness.
Those who keep the Sabbath and choose what pleases the LORD, those who hold fast to his covenant, those who bind themselves to him, to serve him, to love his name and worship him, to such the LORD will give them joy in his house of prayer. The LORD will accept their offerings and sacrifices at his alter.
God’s house will become “a house of prayer for all nations.”
God is Spirit to be worshipped in spirit and in truth; not only in the temple, but wherever whoever worships him in the spirit and in truth. Everywhere anywhere is God’s house of prayer. Those of us who were pioneering clergies in francophone Cameroon know very well that most of the big congregations over there started in houses, then moved to classrooms before the idea of looking for land to construct a Church building.
The Sabbath is part of the Sinaitic covenant and that is why God abhors its desecration. We should be holy as he is holy. In other words, there is an imperative for an about-turn to the LORD! God in Christ has shown us his love, grace, mercy and compassion. Embrace it by being a socially transformed person through whom social transformation can happen whereby widows, orphans, strangers, eunuchs and other minorities are not stigmatized, humiliated, oppressed, exploited, disenfranchised, ignored, and or looked upon with indifference!
Whoever has not seen Christ in the Other cannot see – have not seen – him face to face.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for counting me worthy of having a memorial worthier than sons and daughters. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.
“Arm Yourself With The Same Attitude Of Suffering In The Body…!”(I Pt.4:1-6).The emphasis of “Joy to the world…” at Christmas more often than not multiply