God’s Saving Word: Justice and Peace
Isaiah 56:1‒12: Other nations will become part of God’s people. Israel and its leaders are told to be examples to the nations by living according to the LORD’s commands and treating all people with fairness and justice. The reading concludes with a condemnation of those leaders who do not act justly.
God’s People Will Include All Nations
56 The Lord says to his people, “Do what is just and right, for soon I will save you. 2 I will bless those who always observe the Sabbath and do not misuse it. I will bless those who do nothing evil.”
3 A foreigner who has joined the Lord’s people should not say, “The Lord will not let me worship with his people.”
A man who has been castrated should never think that because he cannot have children, he can never be part of God’s people. 4 The Lord says to such a man, “If you honor me by observing the Sabbath and if you do what pleases me and faithfully keep my covenant, 5 then your name will be remembered in my Temple and among my people longer than if you had sons and daughters. You will never be forgotten.”
6 And the Lord says to those foreigners who become part of his people, who love him and serve him, who observe the Sabbath and faithfully keep his covenant: 7 “I will bring you to Zion, my sacred hill,[a] give you joy in my house of prayer, and accept the sacrifices you offer on my altar. My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.”
8 The Sovereign Lord, who has brought his people Israel home from exile, has promised that he will bring still other people to join them.
Israel’s Leaders Are Condemned
9 The Lord has told the foreign nations to come like wild animals and devour his people. 10 He says, “All the leaders, who are supposed to warn my people, are blind! They know nothing. They are like watch dogs that don’t bark—they only lie around and dream. How they love to sleep! 11 They are like greedy dogs that never get enough. These leaders have no understanding. They each do as they please and seek their own advantage. 12 ‘Let’s get some wine,’ these drunkards say, ‘and drink all we can hold! Tomorrow will be even better than today!’”
Today’s Key Verse: Isaiah 56:7b
[The LORD says:] “My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.”
Zion, God’s “sacred hill” (verse 7) refers to the hill on which the Temple stood. What promise is given in verse 7 “to those foreigners who become part of [the LORD’s] people” (verse 6)? How do you envision what is described in verses 6‒8? In what ways does your community of faith invite and welcome people to join you for worship and fellowship?
Lord God, you are a welcoming God, inviting all people to become part of your people. Open my heart to welcome those I meet and extend your kingdom of love and salvation to all people. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
And now, join us in praising God that a new sign language translation has brought the Bible to the deaf community in North Macedonia. Almighty God, we praise you that the Macedonian Bible Society has completed the translation of several biblical stories into Macedonia Sign Language. Before this project began, very few Bible-based resources existed for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. We pray that, with the generous support of Bible Society donors, translation work will continue in 2023 and beyond to bring even more stories of the Bible to the approximately 6,000 people in the deaf community in North Macedonia. Amen.
Isaiah 58:1‒14: False piety is contrasted with true worship.