Isaiah’s premise in chapters 56-66 is, “If people should have faith at the time of a future restoration from exile, then they can have faith now.” God’s promises require faith from his people, and that demand is never bound to a timeline. It remains viable. Judah’s future release also serves as a message to people everywhere that the God of Israel will be their God if they trust in Him. As a result, every saved person will take on the holy character of God in building life and community, and especially a worshiping community.
One aspect of salvation is restoration of what is right and good in the eyes of God. Therefore, He expects people who trust Him to take on His holy nature and conduct themselves accordingly. They will “preserve justice and do righteousness” (56:1). Any person who sees salvation in light of how God conducts Himself will be blessed of God (56:2). He or she will be guided by keeping the Sabbath, an indication that one’s conduct among people is determined by genuine worship (56:3; Matt. 12:1-12). For believers today this is a day-by-day, lifelong determination.
This means any person who comes to receive God’s salvation, and then lives in submission to God and His covenant of peace, inherits God’s favor (56:4-6). All the redeemed, including those usually considered outside the realm of blessing, will never be forgotten (56:5).
Consequently, a new relationship in faith is God’s offer of hope to the world and finds its fruition within God’s family of faith: “in My house and within My walls” (56:7a). For Judah, Mount Zion will again be their residence and the temple will become “a house of prayer for all the peoples” (56:7b; Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). God has “expansion plans” for all people of faith (56:8).
Preparation for this coming great time of peace and faith falls squarely on the shoulders of Israel’s leaders. God will hold accountable leaders who seek their own comfort and position while neglecting this duty (56:9). Looking ahead, however, Israel’s leaders in Babylon will accept nothing in the way of obligations toward the people (56:10). Not one of these “shepherds with no understanding” will have difficulty turning to his own “unjust gain” (56:11). “Let’s swill our fill,” they say (56:12, Moffatt). Since tomorrow held no fear for such leaders, little wonder that “today” held no fear for the people.
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: email@example.com.
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