When Solomon built the temple, it was not to establish a sacrificial system, it was to establish a place of worship. The sacrificial system had already been established in the law of Moses and the building of the tabernacle. In II Chronicles 1:3-6, Solomon travelled to Gibeon to seek the face of the LORD because this is where the tabernacle of Moses was. In addition to that, David had never brought the brazen altar from the original tabernacle to Jerusalem when he brought the ark. So the place of sacrifice was still with the original tabernacle. When the temple would be built, the sacrificial system would be moved to the temple. So it becomes difficult for me to understand someone’s position who states that there can be no future temple here on earth because we don’t need the sacrificial system any longer.
One of the ways in which the temple would serve as a place of worship would be as a house of prayer. This was evident in the dedicatory speech that Solomon gave in II Chronicles 6, especially verses 14-42. Again and again he asks God, when someone prays before You in this house, toward this place, even toward this city and this house, then God, hear from heaven. Even the stranger (foreigner), not of the people of Israel, if they pray in this house, then do whatever they ask that everybody on the whole earth may know You and fear You, II Chronicles 6:32-33.
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.
Isaiah 40-66 is one of the most difficult passages of prophecy to explain and expound. Yet let us attempt to glimpse into the future in Isaiah 56:6-8. In a passage which explains the importance of keeping the Sabbath, there is the promise for foreigners who join themselves to the LORD that they will be brought to the holy mountain. They will be made joyful in the house of prayer that belongs to the LORD. This house of prayer is the physical temple because we see the reference to sacrifices and offerings upon the altar. The LORD foretells that any foreigner will be able to be accepted in God’s sight in this house of prayer. The reason is that this house, the temple, will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
In this setting, the LORD speaks of the Israelites which will be gathered in the future. Yet alongside those Israelites to be gathered in the future, the LORD will gather others beside those Israelites. Since these are others beside the Israelites, these must be Gentiles. So here is a reference to the temple one day being called a house of prayer for all nations. Then immediately after this is God’s plan to gather Israelites and some other group of Gentiles, which we know is yet future. The idea here is that Isaiah 56:6-8 is somehow tied to an eschatological setting. This is at the end of the age when Israel will be regathered and the Gentiles will be shown to be called by the name of the LORD as well. It is at this time that these Gentiles will be brought to the holy mountain to the house of prayer. At this time the temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
When Jesus went into the temple in what is commonly called the cleansing of the temple, he quoted this passage in Isaiah 56 in relation to the rebuilt temple. He claimed that this rebuilt temple was His Father’s house. He also stated that this same temple was to be called a house of prayer for all nations, Mark 11:17. So why does Jesus take a passage which has yet to be fulfilled and apply it to a building that would be shortly destroyed? At no point in time did the temple ever function as a house of prayer for all nations. Never were Gentiles allowed to be accepted in the manner that Isaiah 56:7 states. Notice the riot that was incited at the mere thought of a Gentile in the temple in Acts 21:27-32.
There is only one conclusion. Jesus was prophetically stating that one day Isaiah 56:6-8 would be fulfilled literally. That temple, not the first temple that Isaiah physically saw, not the second temple that Jesus cleansed, but the temple, the house of God that will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 56:6-8 sometime at the end of the age when the Messiah reigns here on the earth, that temple will be a house of prayer for all nations. The Gentile who joins himself to the LORD will be joyful in that house of prayer, their sacrifices will be accepted upon that altar.
Let us contemplate this future house of prayer for all nations.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman