Sunday, July 11, 2010

A House of Prayer for all Nations

In my studies I came across Dore Gold's book The Fight for Jerusalem and found the following section so refreshing that I stopped my study, my research, my typing and my writing to capture this moment in this blog. In the midst of strife and polarization I want to try to share the joy I experienced when I read these words. If you haven't figured it out yet it is clear that Islam has advanced by the sword from day one. Islam is not a "faith" it is a "subjugation." It does not take much knowledge of history to realize that contemporary Muslim events and behavior is not so contemporary after all, but just more of the same o' same o' we have seen since 622 AD. Christianity has its dark side as seen in the Crusades and the Inquisition. This could easily reappear if we fail to understand and embrace the Truth of the written Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But, listen to Dore Gold's words and remember this verse from Isaiah 56:7-8 (focus on "a house of prayer for all nations"):
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Sovereign Lord declares - he who gathers the exiles of Israel: 'I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.'
This verse and the words below explain why the Jews that I spoke with at the Western Wall a few weeks ago shared with me the message and the attitude that they did. Dore Gold writes on page 60 of The Fight for Jerusalem:
The Jews were not supposed to proselytize or spread their faith through military campaigns or by subjugating smaller nations. Their religion envisioned the ultimate redemption of all mankind through the observance by Jews of their commandments in a free Jerusalem that would serve both as their temple of prayer and as a welcoming site for members of other faiths seeking to direct their own prayers to the Almighty.

This vision was articulated by Philo, the great Greek-speaking Jewish philosopher toward the end of the Second Temple period. He made two insightful points about Judaism's relationship to other peoples. First, he noted that "throughout the world of Greeks and barbarians, there is practically no State which honours the institutions of any other." He continued,"We may fairly say that mankind from East to West, every country and nation and State, show aversion to foreign institutions, and they think they will enhance the respect for their own by showing disrespect for those of other nations. It is not so with ours."

Secondly, Philo observed that Jewish practices at the time had a broader universalistic purpose. In fact, Philo expressed bewilderment at the widespread accusations he heard of Jewish exclusiveness: "And there-fore it astonishes me to see that some people venture to accuse of inhumanity the nation which has shown so profound a sense of fellowship and goodwill to all men everywhere, by using its prayers and festivals and first-fruit offerings as a means of supplication for the human race in general." Philo was explaining that the Temple service in Jerusalem was not just for the benefit for the Jewish people, but also for the salvation of mankind as a whole.

This idea was captured in Jewish eschatology by the prophet Micah (4:1-5). He envisioned that "in the days to come," Jerusalem will no longer be destroyed but rather "the Mount of the Lord's House shall stand firm among the mountains." There is no foreign subjugation of Jerusalem so that "instruction (Torah) shall come forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Divine peace will be extended to all the nations of the earth: "Nation shall not take up sword against nation."
Jesus himself chewed the Jews out in his day when they corrupted the Temple worship for profit and legalistic religious purposes. After Jesus finished dumping their tables, scattering their coins and driving out the merchants and the shoppers he said:
Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.' - Mark 11:17
The written word of God is consistent. The Old Testament prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ understood the mission and the transforming power of the Truth. There was no need for the sword to be used to advance the Truth. The Truth is in itself its own sword!
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword., it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12
So, if you have the Truth, be confident and keep that "sword" sharp!

But, if you are propagating a worthless lie, then you better bring along a weapon to make us submit because we will not be convinced any other way.

Sometimes issues are so clear that we can feel the rare breeze of wisdom moving through our soul. This Truth is like a cool drink of water that refreshes the soul.

1 comment:

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