“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord . . . these I will bring to my holy mountain . . . for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:6a, 7a & e from Isaiah 56:1-8 )
Are you a “foreigner”? You may not think so, but we all are foreigners one way or another gentle reader. According to the writer of Isaiah as Christians we would be considered foreigners who have “joined” themselves to the Lord. But it is not merely aligning ourselves with the Lord – there is more to it than that. The missing portion of verse 6 says, “to minister to him [the Lord], to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my [to the Lord’s] covenant.” It is the same call and obligation that many Hebrews/Jews would have felt. But in the time of the prophets, Hebrews/Israelites/Jews were falling away from this type of devotion to God. And was the prophets who were commanded to call them back. The writer of Isaiah is calling to his/her people to come back to God, that God has not forgotten or forsaken them; but that God was waiting for them to return. But as the writer of Isaiah also says, it was not just the chosen people who were being called, but those who chose of their own volition to follow God. The criteria was the same for them as for the Jews.
We know even more clearly now that all people are welcome to come to God, to believe in God and to join into God’s mission for the world and creation. The Message which is written in clear and straightforward language says, “And as for the outsiders who now follow me,
working for me, loving my name, and wanting to be my servants— All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it, holding fast to my covenant” (verse 6) sounds like it might have been written in our time instead of the time of Isaiah. If we do these things, we are as welcome on God’s holy mountain as any of the original Hebrews.
May you gentle reader do honor to God’s house of prayer for all people. And shalom for your day!