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 endure forever. And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to Him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, 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.” Isaiah 56:4-7
“To love the name of the Lord was not to join a system or identify with a people but one of personal devotion to the Lord in all that He has revealed Himself to be…They are welcome to the place where the Lord is to be found (my holy mountain), into His presence and family (my house of prayer), and to those ordinances which effect and guarantee acceptance and fellowship (my altar)…The welcome extended to foreigners and eunuchs is not a concession but a fulfillment; this is what the Lord’s house was always meant to be. By specifying it to be a house of prayer Isaiah is not in any way denigrating the fact that it was a house of sacrifice…The essential element in the house was always the enjoyment of the Lord’s presence and fellowship, with the sacrifices functioning a the basis on which the people were accepted and maintained in the divine, holy presence. It was through the ministry of the altar that Isaiah found himself enjoying a speaking relationship with the Lord…”
J. Alec Motyer in The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction Commentary (Downers Grove: IVP, 1993) 467.
It’s Holy Week Monday.
Jesus cleansed the temple and recounted this Scripture. God’s design for His house was that the nations would come enjoy His presence and find relationship and a home in community together. They had turned it into a den of robbers with merchants and moneychangers.
What does this have to do with us today as we endure this plague and approach Easter?
God wants everyone, everywhere to have a relationship with Him. We are all on the same level as we approach Him. Eunuchs tended to be prominent people in service to another authority who would not be able to have children. Foreigners were people associated with other gods.
See the picture unfolding? Read the Scripture again.
Eunuchs wanting to serve the Lord will get something better than children. Foreigners who turn to God will no longer be lost and homeless but find a home. God’s house must be the welcoming place where all can find relationship with Him. But there is a factor that can mess everything up. It’s money.
This is why Jesus cleanses the temple on Holy week Monday. Read about it in Mark 11:15-19.
While businesses offer services to generate revenue called profit, God’s house is not sustained by financial models but by faithfulness. That’s likely what this plague will shake out across the planet. Many ministries following that paradigm may close. Alternatively, God’s work is sustained by obedience. The essential element, as Motyer puts it, is “the enjoyment of the Lord’s presence and fellowship.”
Fellowship, which in Greek is koinonia, refers to “vested participation” in the gospel. The house of prayer will be sustained by faithful people who live out an authentic relationship with God together and exhibit generous sharing because they realize all they possess has come from Him.
As we approach the cross and life after Easter and COVID-19, let us ask Jesus to cleanse our lives of any dependency on money. It won’t sustain our lives or ministries. Money must be used to help the nations find relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me drill deeper to make a point.
We are the temple in view. Our bodies are the place God wants to dwell. He wants to abundantly bless us to be a blessing. But the one opposing god we tend to hold on to is money. If that’s you, ask God to cleanse you so that your life can welcome the nations to relationship to God.
And the nations are searching, lost, and suffering. They need us now more than ever. They need you now more than ever.Read more