Project 119: Overview of Isaiah 56-66; Isaiah 56:1-8 and Matthew 21:12-13

 |  Project 119  |  Mary Splawn

Overview of Isaiah 56-66

At last we come to the end of the book of Isaiah and to his global vision of God’s glory. Isaiah 56-66
pictures the day of this coming glory and helps us see how we ought to respond to God’s promise of
salvation. And these verses ultimately point us forward to the day when God will come to His people in the
person of Jesus - when we will see God’s glory because we will behold Christ (John 1:14-18). Isaiah called
the people to host fast to God’s promises in preparation for that day and to wait for Him in hope. In the
same way, we are also waiting for Christ as we anticipate His return. As we wait, our desire is to like the one in Isaiah 66:2 who is “humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at [God’s] word.” Lord, help us to wait in faith for You, to cling to the truth of Your word, and to proclaim Your peace to the nations!

 Isaiah 56:1-8 and Matthew 21:12-13 

Isaiah is one of those books that I need a little help understanding. Poetic speech takes the place of pose,
the plot seems somewhat hard to follow, and there aren’t a lot of stories. 

And yet, Isaiah is one of the most quoted books in the New Testament, second only to the Psalms.
Combining these two factors (the difficulty of Isaiah and its use in the New Testament) has given me a plan
for this week’s devotions. As we explore passages in the last section of Isaiah, we will focus on ones that are quoted in the New Testament. 

Today’s passage (Isaiah 56:1-8) is one of hope! God is proclaiming that anyone who serves Him - Jew or not
- is welcome to enter the temple of the Lord. In fact, God calls the temple “a house of prayer for all the

And yet, in the days when Jesus walked the earth, the temple had become a marketplace, not a center of
prayer. I imagine the temple being a loud and crowded space with stinky animals tied to posts, caged
pigeons trying to fly, and vendors approaching those who have come to worship, looking to sell them

When Jesus enters the temple and see the chaos, He quotes Isaiah 56:7, saying: “‘My house will be called
a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”

What point was Jesus making? He wanted to show that those who were making the temple a marketplace
were not serving Him. They were not using the space for its intended purpose. Instead they were creating
barriers for the the worship of God. 

This gives us some food for thought for our churches today. Do we make prayer a main purpose of the
gathered body of believers? Are we intentional to welcome all people, regardless of nationality or race, to
worship the Lord alongside us? 

Ultimately, we must all remember that it is by God’s grace that we are welcomed into the family of God.
The next time you enter a worship space, take some time to pray silently before the service starts. Ask the
Lord to make our church a place of sweet communion with Him! 

Isaiah 56:1-8

1 Thus says the Lord:

"Keep justice, and do righteousness,

for soon my salvation will come,

and my righteousness be revealed.

2 Blessed is the man who does this,

and the son of man who holds it fast,

who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,

and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lordsay,

"The Lord will surely separate me from his people";

and let not the eunuch say,

"Behold, I am a dry tree."

4 For thus says the Lord:

"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

who choose the things that please me

and hold fast my covenant,

5 I will give in my house and within my walls

a monument and a name

better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

that shall not be cut off.

6 "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—

7 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."

8 The Lord God,

who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,

"I will gather yet others to him

besides those already gathered."

Matthew 21:12-13

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers."