Isaiah 56: Inclusion for the Willing

This chapter addresses the ability of all to come before God as His salvation is coming. There is much emphasis on the idea that all are welcome.

Verses 1-8: All Can Come

God encourages the people to maintain justice and pursue righteousness.

The tone of this chapter and some of the clues within suggest that we interpret it as being addressed to the dispersed remnant that will return to Jerusalem. Mentions of the Sabbath and burnt offerings imply that this microcosm Invitation (compared with the macrocosm invitation of chapter 55) is meant for those foreigners that are returning to Jerusalem with the dispersed Israelites.

Especially mentioned here are eunuchs, or castrated men. Being castrated as a captive was common, and not only for those that served in palace courts. As eunuchs, men felt the loss of status acutely, with no marriage and no family, but God will make up for the Eunuch’s loss. Isaiah 56:3-5: “Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.” The eunuch, perhaps one of the most deplored members of ancient society, is given the unmistakable assurance that they will have a place in God’s house. This is likewise a precursor to the upcoming glory and accessibility of the gospel plan.

Of course, we would be foolish not to recognize the thematic similarity of inclusion with the ideas of welcoming foreigners back to Jerusalem and salvation for all through Christ. Together, they represent God’s love for all His creation. What came to ultimate fruition through Jesus Christ gets an official endorsement from God in these verses as foreigners and eunuchs are welcomed to Jerusalem and encouraged to follow the one true God.

Verses 9-12: Blind Leaders

These four verses describe a degenerate leadership that fails to lead and protect. The leaders are described as ignorant, dumb, lazy, greedy and selfish. They would have led Israel errantly away from God and into slavery and idolatry. They were very poor leaders that should have heeded God’s commands but decided to follow their own desires instead. When all one is doing is pursuing the satisfaction of their prurient desires, there is no room to understand God’s plan.

Isaiah calls out the terrible influence of alcohol for the third time when he mocks the use of it in verse 12. He had also warned against it in Isaiah 5:11 and Isaiah 28:7-8.

It is telling that despite generations of awful leadership, God still chose to save them and to save us. Such is mankind’s state: so helplessly lost to sin that we can never find our way out alone.

We need God, we depend on Christ and we yearn for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word. Sin is so intoxicating, deceptive and easy that man falls prey to it time after time after time.

We should pray to God always and continuously, not in vain, but in deep gratitude that He has gone to such lengths to save us.

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