Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. — Isaiah 56:7
Children need kind and loving instruction about being respectful in church. Teaching them to reverence God’s House takes time, consistency, and patience. Over and over, a child should hear that this is a time to be quiet and sit still, both foreign concepts to a healthy little one. There are setbacks along this road, but learning is one of the things children do best — they just need to be guided in the right direction.
A woman tells of the challenges of trying to keep their four small children tranquil during meetings while she and her husband played in the church orchestra. Since three-year-old Bob was prone to squirming, his dad would situate him on the front pew in plain sight. As a church service progressed, the father would make hand signals to the small boy to encourage proper behavior. Hands held together facing up indicated, “Get a songbook and sing,” even if the book was mostly a prop. One finger held to the lips, of course, said, “Be quiet,” and a forefinger held up in warning meant, “We will discuss this later.”
As adults, we should also remember the concept of reverence in church. God has proclaimed that His House is a house of prayer for all people. This proclamation defines a church as a place to meet and interact with our Heavenly Father.
God is present whenever people pray. Upon entering a sanctuary, notice how His Spirit dwells there. It is a holy place — one that should not be tainted with irreverence. Worship services help attune our hearts to God before, during, and after meetings. Our minds need to concentrate on spiritual things while we are in God’s House.
The marvelous thing is that, when we set the church apart as holy, we are rewarded with God’s presence and continual answers to prayer. Many of us have personally been recipients of the blessings that come from designating God’s House as a place of prayer. Some of my most miraculous spiritual breakthroughs have been obtained while in God’s House: physical healing, sanctification, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and solutions to seemingly impossible problems.
God made the proclamation in the focus verse to Israel, but its promise extends to our day. When we set a church aside for prayer, it becomes God’s House, not just another building. He will dwell there, and our offerings to Him will be accepted. Let’s purpose to make our church a house of prayer for all people.
Starting with Isaiah 56, a shift takes place in the message God sent Israel through Isaiah. Prior chapters of this Book promised salvation and extended hope to those who would turn to God. In this chapter, Isaiah began to declare God’s condemnation of the people who would not repent. However, the message began with an instruction to “keep judgment” and “do justice.” Once more, those who were willing to do right were encouraged.
According to the Mosaic Law, both foreigners and eunuchs were excluded from worship. (Eunuchs were chamberlains over harems, or court ministers in general.) But God now wanted to let the excluded know that they were welcome. They would be given a more lasting name than a family name, which was regarded with high honor among the Hebrews.
Another theme of the chapter is holiness and reverence to God’s designated places and times. Keeping the Sabbath was important under the Law (Exodus 20:8-11). Keeping the Sabbath holy represented trust and allegiance to God. For instance, by not engaging in agricultural or business pursuits on that day, a person acknowledged that he believed God would take care of him and bless him. Since the Sabbath was a sign of Israel’s covenant with God, keeping the Sabbath signified that a person believed in the covenant and the Lord.
With the promise of the Messiah, the house of God was declared to be open to all people (verse 7). No longer would priests alone be able to pray in the Temple. Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 21:13.
The ninth verse opens with calling on the enemies of the Jews, the Chaldeans, and subsequently the Romans, to be as beasts of prey against them. Furthermore, Israel’s own spiritual leaders were corrupt, and had failed to give instruction and admonition, as reliable watchmen should. They were like a dog that “cannot bark.” They not only slumbered involuntarily, but loved it.
The 56th chapter proclaims that those who would partake of the blessings of God are required to be holy in all manner of life and conversation. Those who so live will be accepted. These blessings are available to the whole human race, without any respect to persons or nations.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
B. The person of the deliverer (redemption)
7. The inclusion of Gentiles in the kingdom blessing
e. The universal availability of salvation (56:1-8)
8. The condemnation of the wicked in Israel
a. The condemnation of Israel’s rulers (56:9-12)
The purpose of God’s House is for worshiping Him, and all are now included in the invitation to gather for worship. Our reverent, respectful actions will illustrate that we truly believe God’s Word.