Isaiah 56

{{{{{{{{{{{{tcl12}tcl11}tcl10}tcl9}tcl8}tcl7}tcl6}tcl5}tcl4}tcl3}tcl2}tcl1}  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
At the end of chapter 55 the wonderful prophetic strain, concerning the One who was to come forth as both the “Servant” and the “Arm” of the Lord, comes to an end. In chapter 56 the prophet had to revert to the state of things among the people to whom previously he addressed himself.
He spoke in the name of the Lord, and the fact that He called for equity and justice reveals that these excellent things were not being practiced among the people. His salvation and righteousness were “near to come”, though not fully revealed until after Christ came. When we open the Epistle to the Romans, we meet with both salvation and righteousness in verses 16 and 17 of the first chapter. Both are fully manifested in the death and resurrection of Christ; not as antagonistic the one to the other, but in the fullest agreement and harmony. While waiting for this manifestation the man who lived in accordance with righteousness would be blessed indeed. The Sabbath was the sign of God’s covenant with Israel, therefore it must be observed faithfully.
Moreover the blessings, that came from obedience to God’s holy requirements in His law, were not confined to the seed of Israel, but extended to the stranger who sought the Lord. This passage, verses 3-8, is one to be noted with care. The door was open to any, no matter whence they came, who really feared the Lord and sought Him and His covenant amongst His people. The Queen of Sheba, for instance, came to question Solomon, not because of his vast knowledge of natural history, and his great literary output (see, 1 Kings 4:29-3429And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. 32And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 33And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 34And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:29‑34)), but “concerning the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 10:11And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions. (1 Kings 10:1)). So too the eunuch is specially mentioned in our passage, and in Acts 8 we have the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, who was indeed one of the “sons of the stranger”, who were seeking to “join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord”. What was promised to such by the prophet here was made good to him only in a more abundant measure, since he was not given a place “in My holy mountain”, but rather “called... into the grace of Christ” (Gal. 1:66I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (Galatians 1:6)).
Even under the law the Divine thought was, “Mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” This is just the scripture quoted by the Lord on His last visit to the temple, just before He suffered; and He had with sorrow to add, “but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:1313And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13)). Such was the awful state into which the Jews had lapsed, and we are painfully aware that they were well on the way to it as we read this book of Isaiah. Yet the gracious promise of verse 8 abides. God will yet gather a remnant of His people, who are outcasts amongst men, and when He does so He will gather others, who hitherto have been strangers. Today God is specially concentrating upon the strangers, visiting “the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:1414Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14)).
Having uttered the promise of God, the prophet now turned abruptly to denounce the state of the people, and especially those who were in the place of watchmen and shepherds. The one were both blind and dumb, the other greedy for their gain and not for the welfare of the sheep. As a result the beasts of the field would break through and devour: a warning this of oppressing nations about to assail them from without, while those who should warn and defend were like drunkards, filled with false optimism.