Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the Lord: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil." 3 Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, "The Lord has utterly separated me from His people"; Nor let the eunuch say, "Here I am, a dry tree." 4 For thus says the Lord: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off. 6 "Also 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– 7 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." 8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, "Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him."
A House of Prayer for ALL Nations (Sabbath Future)
Let’s turn our attention to Isaiah 56 and the blessedness of observing the Sabbath. Isaiah does not change his focus when beginning to admonish Israel to observe the Sabbath. His intent is to provoke his generation to repent in light of some truth that will happen in the future. The Messianic Kingdom overshadows all that he has spoken. It is no different here. Isaiah prophesies that the man who keeps the Sabbath is blessed, verse 2. Even the son of a stranger joined to the LORD and eunuchs will be blessed with something everlasting. Here we are still under the Old Testament. This is speaking of foreigners who live within the nation of Israel. Again, we come to the same conclusion. A foreigner who chooses to live within the nation of Israel must observe the Sabbath.
Now, look at the way God fulfills promises to these Gentiles who join themselves to the LORD. They are still foreigners. They do not become part of the nation of Israel although they are spiritually joined to the LORD. They become servants of God when they join themselves to the LORD. They receive a better inheritance than just physical offspring. Their inheritance will be likened to a permanent fixture within God’s temple, including an everlasting name. They hold fast the covenant. This would be the Mosaic Law and circumcision since it is used in conjunction with the keeping of the Sabbath. And last but not least, these foreigners who join themselves to the LORD keep the Sabbath. This seems to lean toward the idea that Gentiles must observe the Sabbath once they join themselves to the LORD.
There is something mysteriously future about this passage. God promises to bring these Gentiles who join themselves to the LORD to His holy mountain. Has this been fulfilled? No. There remains a future summoning of all Gentile believers to His holy mountain. God promises to make these Gentiles joyful in His house of prayer, which in this context is the temple. These Gentiles will bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to the altar and (wonder of wonders) these sacrifices made by Gentiles will be accepted upon the altar within the temple. The reason that Gentile sacrifices will be accepted is because this temple will be called a house of prayer for all people.
Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ quote concerning the temple being a house of prayer of all nations, but how many understand the original context? Matthew 21:13 but especially Mark 11:17 which includes the phrase "for all nations" (Gentiles) are direct quotes of Isaiah 56:7. Jesus claimed that this earthly temple was supposed to be fulfilling the title of "house of prayer for all nations". He further castigated them because they had failed as a nation to bring forth the fruits worthy of their position. Jesus intimately knew the details of Isaiah’s prophecies. Isaiah had seen into the distant future to a time when the temple would truly function as a house of prayer for all nations. It would be at a time when Gentiles would be summoned to the holy mountain and would offer sacrifices on the altar at this temple.
Verse 8 is the last verse in the poetic structure of the passage. There is a reference to the regathering of Israel, which has been a common theme throughout Isaiah’s prophecies. But beside this gathering of Israelites, there is another gathering. Since this gathering is beside the gathering of Israelites, it must be a gathering including Gentiles. Putting it all together, we see a future gathering of Israelites at which time the temple will serve as a house of prayer for all nations, including Gentile nations. Gentiles who have joined themselves to the LORD will be gathered to the holy mountain, which will be the location of the temple. This temple will have sacrificial worship which Gentiles can and will participate in. The Sabbath will be observed by the nation of Israel, and by all Gentiles who have been brought to the holy mountain.
Let’s put on our New Testament goggles for a minute. The holy mountain is Mount Zion which is the New Jerusalem, Hebrews 12:22. The gathering is the harvest of the wheat Matthew 13:43, the gathering of the elect, Matthew 24:31, the hiding behind closed doors of God’s people, Isaiah 26:19-21, and the rapture of the church, I Thessalonians 4:16-17. The time of the fullness of the Gentiles will have concluded, Romans 11:25. Israel will be regathered, have their blindness lifted, and be raised to a place of prominence among the Gentile nations. Messiah will be reigning on earth from the New Jerusalem (which is His bride). Time will continue as Sabbaths are observed. We are seeing a glimpse into the Messianic Kingdom, also known as the Millennial Kingdom. The gathering of Israel, the gathering beside this one which brings Gentiles to the New Jerusalem, and the temple serving as a house of prayer for all nations remains yet future, see Isaiah 2:1-4.
What we see in this passage is that Gentiles who have been gathered to the holy mount will observe the Sabbath when the Messianic Kingdom is established. Gentiles who are gathered unto the holy mount will observe the Sabbath alongside a regathered, restored, and raised up nation of Israel. That’s the church living in the New Jerusalem as Messiah’s wife. As far as Gentiles nations in the Millennial Kingdom, we don’t know if the law of the Sabbath will be imposed upon them or not. We know it will be in effect for the nation of Israel, the New Jerusalem, and for any Gentiles who choose to live in the nation of Israel. My guess is with Israel being the economic center of the world during the Millennial Kingdom, that trade and commerce will be severely hampered as they shut down from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset every single week. Most nations who voluntarily submit to Messiah’s rule will begin to observe the Sabbath as a recognition that the God of Israel is the Creator.
Israel’s future repentance must include an observance of the Sabbath. Jeremiah served as the final prophet in Jerusalem before the exile, pleading the people to repent. Jeremiah 17:19-27 is an excellent passage to show the choice that the nation of Israel had in Jeremiah’s day. The choices are simple. Repent and observe the Sabbath, and the glory of the Davidic lineage will be established from Jerusalem forever. Continue in their sinfulness, and the palaces of Jerusalem would be burned. We know which choice the nation of Israel chose. We see also in Isaiah 58:13-14 that the nation of Israel will not rise to a place of prominence unless the Sabbath is observed. We know that the lineage of David will reign from Jerusalem forever through the person of Jesus the Messiah. We also know that Israel will be exalted by the Messiah to a place of prominence among the nations. This observance of the Sabbath by Israel remains to be fulfilled in the future, Messianic Kingdom to be established at Israel’s future repentance. Remember, to observe the Sabbath is to recognize God as Creator.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman