A House of Prayer – Isaiah 56

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 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.’”

14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.  Matthew 21:12-14 NKJV

Solomon’s magnificent temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians many centuries before the birth of Jesus.  Its reconstruction was begun by the returning exiles, and a grand upgrade was later started by King Herod around the time of Christ.

As the Lord confirmed through the words of Isaiah, this temple was to be established as a house of prayer, first for the Jewish nation itself, then for all Gentiles around the world who would come to believe in the one true God.  It was to be God’s foothold on earth to attract the hearts of all people to Himself.

“…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 NKJV

Jesus came to the holy mountain and temple of Jerusalem from the land of Galilee to offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin.  When His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead were complete, there was no further need for symbolic sacrifice in the temple.  Fifty days later, at the feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given to believers to reside in their hearts, forming a new, global temple of God.  God now resided among His people rather than in a building.

The Romans destroyed the holy temple in 70 A.D., and it has not been rebuilt in the almost 2,000 years since.

When Jesus came into Jerusalem in the final week before He died, one of the first things He did was to go to the temple to drive out those trying to profit off of people who were coming there to seek the Lord.

God’s heart is with all of us, but He has a soft spot for those of meager resources who choose to follow Him.  Note how Jesus took a seat at the temple treasury one time to watch and marvel as a poor widow came and put her last two coins into the collection box.  I believe He was waiting for her, and that she later encountered some kind of special blessing on her way home.

When someone tries to take advantage of these faithful ones through “money-changing” – basically price gouging when the poor seek to purchase something for their temple sacrifice – the Lord will understandably become upset.  Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah after driving these greedy opportunists out of the temple, His house of prayer.

Isaiah also spoke of the free gift of grace that God extends to all of us.

1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
  Isaiah 55:1 NKJV

With the moneychangers removed, the blind and the lame then came to encounter Jesus at the temple.  He healed them all.  This was the true purpose of God’s house of prayer – to seek the grace, healing, and comfort of the Lord.  He abundantly gives all those things to us.

One day, all believers will meet with Him on His holy mountain in Jerusalem.  He will be our altar and sacrifice, the remedy for our sin and unholiness.  Through Him, we experience the cleansing waters and are given the free gift of righteousness.  The Holy Spirit seals us and entitles us to be there, joyfully present with Him in His house of prayer.

I will look for you there!

Reflection

How can I help those of slender resources to get around obstructions in their faith journey?  Where does the Lord want me to step in to help?

Lord, show us the people that You want us to assist as they travel through their faith journey.  Show us what to do and how to do it so that we may successfully follow Your will.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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