“And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.” Matthew 21:12, 13 (Part two)
Jesus knew the Scripture. This is verified by the accounting of events by the four gospel writers.
Jesus knew the Scripture. This is verified by the accounting of events by the four gospel writers. So we know when Jesus quoted the above Old Testament passages it wasn’t just to justify what might appear to some as an outburst of anger. What we see in our text is righteous indignation. Last week we gave the surrounding context of Jeremiah 7:2-12 from which comes Jesus’ statement that the people and the merchants were making the temple a robbers’ den. The core issue, as we pointed out, was the peoples’ hearts. They believed a formalistic and convenient way of making the required offerings kept them in good stead with the LORD, even though their hearts were far from Him. A lesson for us all under the New Covenant as well, right? This week we look at the context of the quote Jesus cited from the writings of the prophet Isaiah concerning “My house shall be called a house of prayer”. The statement Jesus made is a partial quote of Isaiah 56:7. Here is that verse in total: “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. ” The ’those’ in this inspired utterance of Isaiah to which Jesus alluded is not talking about Jews or Israelites. If you look at the context preceding verse seven, you will note that Isaiah is talking about foreigners and eunuchs. Two “disenfranchised” groups who were not allowed to participate in the worship of the LORD under the terms of the Old Testament (Deut. 21:1-6). Isaiah’s declaration then, is an obvious prophesy of the New Covenant people of God under the headship of the Messiah. The book of Hebrews helps us to understand the house Isaiah is speaking about is the church (Hebrews 3:6), and the holy mountain where the house is situated is the one located in the city of the living God, called heavenly Jerusalem. Again, the church of Jesus Christ. Back to our Lord’s statement. Notice that the context of Isaiah 56:7 is talking about acceptable sacrifices that come from a joyful house of prayer. Brethren, Jesus recognized that one of the key purposes of the temple when it was conceived (David) and achieved (Solomon), was rooted in prayer. You’re encouraged to read the remarks of David and Solomon as recorded in 2 Samuel 7:18-29 and 1 Kings 8:22-53. But notice verses 41-43 of 1 Kings 8: “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Thy people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Thy name’s sake (for they will hear of Thy great name and Thy mighty hand, and of Thine outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name. ” Isaiah, through the Holy Spirit, upgraded the understanding of foreigners praying towards the house, to foreigners becoming a part of the house! Awesome stuff if one understands it properly. Jesus understood God’s plan through His word and His role in fulfilling it. His prayer life reflected that. Unfortunately, the Jews didn’t or didn’t want to. You’d think the Pharisees among the people when they heard these words uttered would have considered the context from which they came. Jesus was trying to let them know, the days were fast approaching for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Brethren, how does this house Isaiah prophesied about become a joyful house of prayer? A clear understanding of God’s plan through His word and each individual’s role in that plan! It has always been about the Christ and His church. If you know Jesus, and you know who you are in Jesus, then you’ll know the value He has placed upon you (and all the peoples) in the fulfillment of His purpose in the church. So render up that fruit of the lips, the sacrifice of praise, O joyful house! Amen.