TODAY’S READING: Isaiah 54–58
Isaiah is so delightfully missionary. Our descendants will inherit nations because Jehovah is God of the whole earth (Isa. 54:3, 5). Recently, a young family praying about career missions asked my wife and I about the consequences to their two young girls if they leave home to pioneer the gospel among the unreached. We responded that the best thing anyone can ever do for their children is to take them to the mission field and that those girls will rise up and call their parents blessed, thanking them with tears for obeying Jesus and giving them the inheritance of the nations. What is the consequence of taking our children to the mission field? It is the fulfilment of the promise my mother claimed every day that my sisters and I were in boarding school: “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” (v. 13). This is a missionary promise in a missionary context.
As is the invitation to come quench our thirst. God promises the sure mercies of David which include the nations. The context of God’s word not returning void and His ways being higher than ours (55:8–9, 11) are missionary: God slacking our thirst by bringing us into the covenant promise that David’s seed would include all nations. The great concerns and questions of life (our children, future, daily bread for the eater and seed for the sower) are answered when we align our hearts and passions for the glory of God among all nations.
Isaiah 56 is a pivotal chapter in the book. It turns its attention to the second temple period, the time under the Persians when the temple was restored. Ironically, it turns out that the priests of that second temple (drawing a half-right conclusion from the lesson of exile) were fastidious to exclude the foreigner. The returnees were punctilious about obeying the ceremonial law, but in that legalism they missed the heart of God. The prophetic anticipation of that error calls out for both the foreigners and the maimed to be welcomed in God’s house.
Jump to Jesus cleansing the temple. It was Isaiah 56:7 that He quoted. Picture Jesus in a controlled rage. He was furious that in the court of the Gentiles, the dedicated sacred space where all nations were invited to come meet with Jehovah, was now a market and that commercial interests trumped the great passion of God. This blatant, horrific violation of the goal of God so angered Jesus, He flashed His second coming temper on this second temple tragedy: “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….and [hold] fast My covenant—even them 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 nations” (vv. 6–7). It’s the “microphone drop” moment of God made flesh. He said it just days before the cross. He meant it. He lived and died for it, and so should His church. Else we will face His wrath.
 Deuteronomy 23:1–3 does indeed forbid foreigners and those with defects.