Isaiah 56:1a, 6-8 - Thus says the LORD ... "And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, to love the Name of the LORD, and to be His servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast My covenant—these 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 peoples." The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, "I will gather yet others to Him besides those already gathered."
It's not easy being a second-class citizen. Everything around you reminds you that you don't belong. There are places you can't go, things you can't do. Worst of all, people treat you poorly. A lot of you know this from your own life experience.
The God-fearers of the Bible are an example of second-class citizens. A "God-fearer" was a person who worshipped the God of Israel, but didn't follow the full Jewish law. They were considered half-converts, not full, and so there were limits on what they could do and where they could go. In Jesus' day, for instance, they could go to the temple in Jerusalem, but only to the extreme outermost Court of the Gentiles. That left them far away from the altar itself, and from a lot of areas where teaching, praying, music, and offering went on. Imagine how that must have felt!
But in our reading for today, God makes it clear that this situation will not last forever. He has no intention of having second-class citizens in his kingdom: "These I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer ... for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
Notice what God says—"I will make them joyful in My house of prayer." In other words, they aren't just going to join the rest of the believers in the inner courts; they are going to go all the way in, to the very temple itself! God is making them welcome in His own presence—and along with them, everybody of any background who loves and trusts and serves Him as their God.
This is what Jesus has done for us—all of us, everyone who loves and trusts Him as our Savior. As Paul says, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility ... (He did this to) reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:13-14, 16b-18).
Now you can draw near to God in comfort and peace, knowing that you are fully welcome regardless of your background or past. Jesus has called you near. He has given His own life to make you a citizen of God's kingdom, a dearly loved child of the Father. And He has risen from the dead that you may live with Him forever and with all the rest of God's people, in love and peace at last.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, please bring that true, complete peace and fellowship to us soon. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. When have you felt like a second-class citizen?
2. When have you seen others treated that way?
3. How can God work through you to build real relationships of love and respect with people you would normally be separated from?
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