Isaiah 56 – Back from the Future
56 This is what the Lord says:
“Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. 2 Blessed is the one who does this— the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”
How is the Sabbath kept without desecration? Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He was condemned for it, but what was the “work” that he did? Not only did He healed, but he forgave sins. The Sabbath is all about conforming to the will of God and not the work of the world. Human beings can even turn labor into an idol. We do it all the time. We call ourselves workaholics, but what we really are is work idolaters. The Sabbath was a protection from the idolatry associated with work. The justice and rightness of the Sabbath has everything to do with taking a day to remember, honor, and love the Lord. We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6) every day, morning and night, and every thought in between. We desecrate and dirty our hands, not from doing work, but by worshipping it (and everything else, everything but God). Mosaic law was to keep Israel from falling into slavery and forgetting the covenant. Israel turned it into a type of isolationism, when they were supposed to show God’s love and kindness to the world. Kingdom law overcomes the shortcomings of the way Israel “observed” Mosaic law.
3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.”
Compare a protective decree (Deuteronomy 23:1-6) made to the children of idol worshipping slaves, who are prone to becoming idol worshipping slaves themselves, to the Kingdom law of those who are bound to the Lord Jesus Christ. Are any excluded? No one who is bound (blood covenant term) to Jesus by entering into covenant with him is excluded. Physical geography or biology doesn’t matter.– The foreigner is not excluded and the eunuch will be allowed into the temple courtyard as well.
4 For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5 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 endure forever. 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— 7 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.” 8 The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”
Following is a contrast between idolatry and the God of Israel and it continues through Isaiah 57. It is a jarring return to the situation of the present compared to the hope of the Messianic kingdom. The call is to the beasts of the field to come and devour. The Day of Judgment is near. The sentinels of Israel, its teachers, religious leaders, politicians, and especially its kings have made themselves comfortable, sleepy, voracious, and drunk on all forms of idolatry.
9 Come, all you beasts of the field, come and devour, all you beasts of the forest! 10 Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. 11 They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain. 12 “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine! Let us drink our fill of beer! And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better.”
They have blinded themselves. They lack knowledge. They are mute. They are sleepy. They lack understanding. They are self-righteous. And they believe their own lies. They are ripe for being devoured by their enemies.