Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Foreigners and Eunuchs

Isaiah 56:3-7
 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely exclude me from his people." And let not any eunuch complain, "I am only a dry tree."

For this is what the LORD says:

"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenantó to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenantó these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."


Comment

Foreigners and eunuchs were generally despised. Thus the gist of this passage deals with God's acceptance and blessing of those who are despised for illegitimate reasons if they behave properly.

There are those despised for racial or ethnic reasons. Much as Jews today complain of antisemitism (and indeed in many cases for legitimate reasons), yet since Ezra and Nehemiah we see many of the Jews in the Bible (Including, by the way, even the apostles) had a great deal of contempt for Gentiles.

Let's take Nehemiah as an example. Indeed I think much of the New Testament anti-Gentile attitude can be traced to his time.

On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God...  When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel ALL who were of foreign descent. Neh 13:1,3
Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in Godís name and said: "You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. Neh 13:23-35
He then had them divorce their foreign wives. (Wonder how Boaz would have reacted!) God rebuke Nehemiah through the prophet Malachi saying, You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Mal 2:14 In the New Testament we get a much different sense of God's love and acceptance of Gentiles. In fact even with respect to unbelievers we see in 1Cor 7 God does not command believers to divorce their unbelieving spouses.

Eunuchs were likewise despised in the Jewish society, and even today to degrees. Interestingly enough Jesus Christ himself was essentially a eunuch. ("For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." Matt 19:12) Notice in that passage that Jesus interprets "eunuch" as simply referring to a single person. Are you single, childless - well then you're a eunuch. Family oriented societies despise eunuchs. And so the eunuch is made to be humiliated - an object of scorn. But on the other hand it seems quite characteristic of God to associate with those who are illegitimately despised. Here he promises them a name (a legacy) "Better than that of (having) sons and daughters"

And of foreigners "Even them 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 nations." Now notice this last phrase. Where have you heard it before. You heard it when Jesus went into a rampage in the temple throwing out the money changers. Realize that while God is zealous for the sanctification of his people, He is also just as zealous concerning those who are treated with illegitimate contempt.

Therefore while proper behavior is necessary for fellowship, beware who you exclude from your Christian community. For many churches shun or otherwise exclude legitimate Christians for illegitimate reasons.


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