Summary of passages: Isaiah 56:1-8: The Lord says to maintain justice and do what is right for salvation and righteousness are close. Blessed is he who does this, keeps the Sabbath, and does not do evil. No foreigner can say the Lord excludes them from His people for foreigners and eunuchs who keep the Sabbaths, pleases the Lord, and keeps the covenant, the Lord will give them everlasting life. If foreigners serve, love, worship the Lord, keep the Sabbaths and the covenant, then the Lord will bring those to his holy mountain and give them joy in the temple. Their sacrifices will be accepted and the Lord’s house will be a house of prayer for all nations. Others will be gathered besides Israel.
Exodus 31: 12-17: The Lord says to observe the Sabbaths because it is His holy day and so it extends to His people as a holy day. Anyone who desecrates the Sabbath must be put to death and anyone who does work on that day must be cut off from his people. The Sabbath shall be a sign between the Lord and the Israelites forever as a symbol of the six days God worked and the one day He rested.
Deuteronomy 23:1-8: No one emasculated by crushing or cutting (made a eunuch) may enter the assembly of the Lord. No one born of a forbidden marriage (would be foreign blood if an Israelite married a foreigner) nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord as punishment when they did not help as the Lord led His people to the promised land. Do not be friends with them as long as you live (harsh punishment, huh?). An Edomite is your brother (Edom being founded by Esau, Jacob’s twin brother) as is Egypt since you abided in his country. After three generations have passed, they may enter the assembly of the Lord.
8a) “In the gospel, a righteousness goes forth–a righteousness that God delights to see and accept. This righteousness is the provision of a right relationship with himself through the saving work of Jesus.” The salvation is the salvation Jesus brought us when he died on the cross. The righteousness is the gift of righteousness Jesus gave us when he died on the cross. Through his death we were made righteous (a right relationship with God) through Jesus. This righteousness is by faith alone from the first to the last (essentially from the beginning of time to eternity). If you believe in Jesus and accept he died for you then you are made righteous in God’s eyes, which is an act of faith. To be righteous is to have a right relationship to God. Essentially, through Jesus’s death, we can have a relationship with God.
“To receive this gift of righteousness is to be justified by faith. And those who receive the gift then are to live as righteous people, devoted to the service of what God declares to be right.”
All quotes are from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.
b) Verse 7. The outer courts were the only place the Gentiles could come and pray. They were not allowed inside the inner courts of the temple. It was not holy ground and non-Jews were not permitted there. Buying and selling were permitted as well but mainly for sacrificial animals and money exchanges for tithes. Jesus got mad because the outer court had become more of a market motivated by profit than for religious purposes. Also, the market had grown so big that the merchants were pushing out those who had just come to pray. The religious intentions had turned into a bazaar of exchanging goods and services; whereas God’s expectations had been for worship only. (Some phrases summarized from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
9a) All foreigners and eunuchs–all nations. Traditionally, foreigners and eunuchs were excluded from worshiping God (Exodus 12:43, Deuteronomy 23:1, 3, 7-8, Leviticus 21:18-20). Israel had come to be arrogant as God’s chosen people during their exile, thinking only of themselves and how God was only for them. But here God says no–I love all people.
b) In John 10:14-16, Jesus explains He has other sheep (the Gentiles) whom He will bring also. They listen to Him and shall be one flock (shall be as equal as the Jews on the same footing). Acts 8:26-40 tells how an angel of the Lord sent Philip to explain the Bible and baptize an Ethiopian eunuch (so both a foreigner and a eunuch). The Spirit of the Lord was present. In Acts 10:34-38 Peter realizes Jesus’s death was for all. Jesus himself never discriminated while on earth. While Peter was talking the Holy Spirit came on all circumcised believers and he baptized them all.
c) Personal Question. My answer: Unbelieving family members
Conclusions: I LOVED Acts 8: 30-31 “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said (the Ethiopian eunuch), “unless someone explains it to me?” Awesome! I am so excited BSF has embraced such a goal. I wish other churches and bible studies would be as effective. Explaining the Bible so we can understand and when we understand we can do better, be better, and share the gospel as Jesus instructed. Great stuff! Sometimes I wonder if my church has this at its heart when it’s mission statement is to bring others into a growing relationship with Jesus. I think they forget the growing part of it and just focus on accepting Jesus and then you’re on your own.
This was a rough lesson for me in many ways. Question 8a once again challenged my thinking on what is righteousness (something I’m still trying to get a grasp of in my mind). Romans is such a key passage in all the Bible that I’m still struggling to get. I had to read about the inner and outer courts to make sure I understood why Jesus was so upset and make sure I had it straight who eunuchs were in the Bible. It took me two days to do this lesson.
I’m not for sure how Exodus ties in here (since no question points to it) besides to make the point of keeping the Sabbath holy and how Isaiah repeatedly stated if foreigners keep the Sabbath holy, then they are accepted by God. I’m assuming this is for emphasis and to show its importance to God. Therefore, it is a requirement to be accepted by God in the Old Covenant as Isaiah records in Isaiah 56.
End Note: Traditionally, eunuchs are castrated males, usually slaves turned into servants who serve for a king and tend his harem of women so no adultery can occur. They also attend the king as well. Castration was also a form of punishment for rape in ancient China. It was also used for religious purposes.
Biblically speaking, the term eunuch could have referred not only to castrated men but also to a male official or confidant. The Hebrew word had both meanings. The context must be taken into account to get the full picture. Here, I’m thinking Isaiah is referring to the castrated male since no one with imperfections could enter the inner courts (which included those cut–Deuteronomy 23:1).