"No Longer an Outsider"
August 11, 2020
Thus says the LORD…"Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 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. The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
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 ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…(He did this to) reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto 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.
1. When have you felt like a second-class citizen?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved.
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?
When have you felt like a second-class citizen?