Pastor Vince drew his message from Isaiah 56 this past week. It was the first message in a series on prayer, and made a powerful starting point.
Let us first acknowledge that prayer, “our communication with God,” is central to our faith. With this in mind we can examine Isaiah and see the power of this “realm” of the house of prayer.
It is transformational! This is immediately clear in verses 4 and 6. In the first of these, eunuchs are addressed. In Deuteronomy 23: 1, eunuchs are cut off from the worship of the Hebrews, “No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD.” Yet, in Isaiah’s prophecy of the kingdom to come, eunuchs are welcomed. Not only welcomed, but they are given a promise, that what they have been deprived of physically in life, will be more than compensated for. Isaiah reads, “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 for ever (verse 5).”
In ancient Israel, having offspring to continue “your name” was of great importance. This was the issue with Abraham, and the significance that he would become a great nation. But here, God promises, that the choices (or accidents) of life can be overcome within this “house of prayer” for those who seek Him.
The second passage in verse 6, notes that those not of the line of Israel also have a promise. In fact, in verse 7 it reads, “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” Gentiles will be welcome. This was winked at in Solomon’s temple. The outer court was the “Court of the Gentiles.” Non-Jews could come this close to the Holy Place.
This gives a great context to Matthew 21: 12-13, “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” The merchant had set up in the Court of the Gentiles. Jesus righteous anger was totally justified, but also a timely symbol. This House of Prayer was to welcome those outside of the Covenant of Moses; a welcome about to be facilitated by Jesus’ own death.
So what was the Gentile promise? “Their burnt offerings and sacrifice will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations (verse 7).” Here again transformation. They, like the eunuchs, are no longer cut off from the worship of the Most High. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).”
We who are to be given “a new name” in Jesus are to be lifted up with Him, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).” Now there is a transformation, a transformation stemming from The House of Prayer.”