Isaiah 56

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 4, 2000


In Isaiah 55, we have God giving an invitation to the world to come to Him and find out what real life is all about. We saw last week how God told people to seek Him and call on Him.

:1-8 Becoming accepted

:1 Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near

keepshamar – to keep, guard, observe, give heed

judgmentmishpat – judgment, justice, ordinance

justicets@daqah – justice, righteousness

salvationy@shuw‘ah – salvation, deliverance

righteousnessts@daqah – justice, righteousness

revealedgalah – to uncover, remove

God is telling the people to live correctly because the point where we will enter eternity is right around the corner.


Right living in the light of eternity

In a way, John the Baptist used this idea in his preaching to get people ready for the coming of the Messiah at His first coming:

(Luke 3:8,10-14 KJV) Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance … {10} And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? {11} He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. {12} Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? {13} And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. {14} And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

John was telling people that if their hearts were truly sorry over their sin, then their actions ought to match their hearts.

Salvation isn’t dependent upon whether your outer appearance is correct, but whether or not your heart is correct.

But that doesn’t mean that your outer actions aren’t important either. The proof of your inner heart being correct is whether or not your outer actions match your heart (Luke 3:8).

:2 Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it;

blessed ‘esher – happiness, blessedness

layeth holdchazaq – (Hiphil) to make strong, strengthen; to make firm; to display strength; to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support; to hold, contain

:2 that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it,

keepethshamar – to keep, guard, observe, give heed

pollutingchalal – (Piel) to profane, make common, defile, pollute; to violate the honour of, dishonour; to treat as common


What is the Sabbath?

Sabbathshabbath – Sabbath; comes from – shabath – to cease, rest

The Sabbath was to be a day set aside for holiness and rest. It was to be done after God’s pattern of resting on the seventh day of creation (Gen. 2:2). The Sabbath is on Saturday. The first time the word is used is Exodus 16:23, where God tells Moses to have the people take a day off. The actual law of the Sabbath is given in Ex. 20:8 as part of the Ten Commandments.

Of the Ten Commandments, it is the only commandment that is not repeated for the church, after the Day of Pentecost. The church chose to worship on Sunday (Acts 20:7), because that was the day of the resurrection.

Who is it for?

The Sabbath was given to Israel, as a part of God’s agreement with them as His chosen people (Ex. 31:16).

Ex 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant.

In the early church, the new Gentile believers were not commanded to keep the Sabbath. Instead, the Gentiles were only commanded to:

Ac 21:25 …keep themselves from [things] offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

In reality, we have the freedom to worship God on any day.

Ro 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Does the Sabbath have any benefit to us as Gentiles?

Yes. It’s good to take a day off, worship God, and rest.

How is it polluted?

It is polluted when people don’t take time to spend with God.

It is polluted when people don’t take time to rest.

:2 and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

evilra‘– bad, evil

:3 …The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people:

strangernekar – foreign, alien, foreignness, that which is foreign. Speaking of Gentiles.

joinedlavah – to join, be joined

utterly separatedbadal (word used twice together) – (Hiphil) to divide, separate, sever; to separate, set apart; to make a distinction, difference; to divide into parts

The Gentile believer that wants to be connected to the God of Israel shouldn’t say that God has excluded him from His people.

:3 neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

eunuchcariyc – official, eunuch; from an unused root meaning to castrate. Eunuch’s were often high officials in ancient governments, sometimes their duties included overseeing the king’s "harem". But in Deut. 23:1, a eunuch couldn’t even be a part of the "congregation" of Israel. Also, in Leviticus 21:20, a eunuch could not be a priest.

dry tree – not fruitful, no life. The eunuchs shouldn’t be saying that they were useless.

In a way, this is kind of about being "single".

Jesus talked a little about "eunuchs" when He was teaching His disciples about God’s ideas on divorce –

(Mat 19:10-12 NLT) Jesus' disciples then said to him, "Then it is better not to marry!" {11} "Not everyone can accept this statement," Jesus said. "Only those whom God helps. {12} Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made that way by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone who can, accept this statement."

For us, this is about being "single". There can be different reasons why people are single.

Some people are born that way.

Others are made single by others.

Others willingly choose to be single to serve the Lord better.


Being single isn’t a crime

We have a mentality in our society, even in the church, that has the idea that if a person is single for any period of time, that there must be something wrong with them.

But God says to the single person, "Don’t call yourself worthless!"

God may have wonderful things for you, things that you could only receive from Him as a single person.

:4 and choose the things that please me

choosebachar – to choose, elect, decide for

pleasechaphets – to delight in, take pleasure in, desire, be pleased with


What do you choose?

Each day we are faced with choices. We call this our "will".

Do we choose to do things that are pleasing to God, or things that grieve Him?

The key to choosing to please God is to learn to love Him.

(John 14:15 KJV) If ye love me, keep my commandments.

When you are madly in love with someone, is it a difficult thing to get yourself to do something that pleases them? No, in fact you work hard at finding out what pleases them and then doing it.

:4 and take hold of my covenant;

take holdchazaq – (Hiphil) to make strong, strengthen; to make firm; to display strength; to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support; to hold, contain

covenantb@riyth – covenant, alliance, pledge

:5 a name better than of sons and of daughters

In the Bible, having children was considered one of life’s greatest blessings. (Ps. 127:3-5)

(Psa 127:3-5 KJV) Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. {4} As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. {5} Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

God is saying here that to those eunuchs who are following Him, He will give them blessings that are even better than having the blessing of having lots of kids.

(Isa 56:5 NLT) I will give them--in my house, within my walls--a memorial and a name far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters…


Single for the Lord.

(1 Cor 7:32-34 NLT) In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord's work and thinking how to please him. {33} But a married man can't do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. {34} His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and in spirit, while the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.

Paul was encouraging single people to consider staying single. A single person has more time on their hands. They don’t have to spend time doing things that are necessary to keep a relationship healthy. They can dedicate all their time to serving the Lord.

Warning: Don’t make your life’s goal that of finding a spouse. Make your life’s goal to serve the Lord.

(Mat 6:33 NIV) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

If God wants you to have a spouse, He will give you one. Let Adam be your example.

If God thinks that it is not good for you to be alone, then one day you’ll just wake up with a spouse at your side. Or something like that. J


For me, I had a time in my life where I came to the conclusion where I thought, "Women, who needs them?" A couple of my friends also came to the same conclusion about the same time, and we formed a chapter of the "BTTR" club (Bachelors ‘Til The Rapture). Between the four of us, one of us ran the College Group, one ran the High School Group, together we put on weekly concerts, ran a door-to-door witnessing ministry, went witnessing on campus, three of us went to seminary, and all four of us have been in some sort of pastoral ministry.

As single guys, we were able to do all kinds of things because we had lots of time to spend on serving the Lord.

Also, we were all married within three years. I was the last.

For me, I became so busy serving the Lord that I didn’t have time to go hunting for a woman. In fact, after two years, I discovered that she had been right there at the church all along, right under my nose! It was like Adam, waking up and there she was. We dated for a year, were engaged for a year, and then married. Next Saturday will be our 22nd Anniversary.

:5 I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

cut offkarath – to cut, cut off, cut down, cut off a body part, cut out, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant

:6 Also the sons of the stranger

sons of the stranger – that’s us Gentiles. This next few verses are a promise that we as Gentiles will become acceptable to God.

:6 that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants,

to servesharath – (Piel) to minister, serve, minister to. Used both to describe a regular, secular servant, as Joshua was Moses’ servant; but equally used to describe the service that the priests and Levites performed in the worship of God.

to love ‘ahab – to love; (Qal); human love for or to God

servants ‘ebed – slave, servant

:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain

my holy mountain – meaning Zion, the place of the temple. When Jesus comes back and rules on earth, we Gentiles will be allowed into the temple in Jerusalem.

:7 and make them joyful in my house of prayer:

make them joyfulsamach – to rejoice, be glad; (Piel) to cause to rejoice, gladden, make glad

prayert@phillah – prayer

:7 their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar

shall be acceptedratsown – pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance, will

Heb 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.

:8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith,

outcastsdachah – to push, thrust, chase, overflow, totter, sore, drive away or out, be outcast, be cast down

:8 Yet will I gather others to him

others – God would not only bring the outcast Jews back to Israel, but God would also bring others, Gentiles, like us, back as well.

:9-12 Bad Leaders

It seems that a new section starts here. Whereas the previous section would be something far in Isaiah’s future, this next section seems aimed a little closer to home, time-wise.

:9 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour

God is going to call pagan nations to devour His people. This same imagery is used in Jer. 12:9 to talk about the Babylonians coming to wipe out the nation.

(Jer 12:9 KJV) Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

As Isaiah is going to point out, one of the problems was that the leaders of Judah, like bad watchmen, weren’t doing their job …

:10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant,

watchmentsaphah – to look out or about, spy, keep watch, observe, watch

God is speaking about the leaders of Israel.

blind ‘ivver – blind. The guy sitting up in the city’s watchtower was supposed to keep an eye out for enemy armies. He was supposed to alert the city of impending attack. If the guy in the tower is blind, you’re in big trouble.

ignorantyada‘– to know; to perceive; to perceive and see, find out and discern; to discriminate, distinguish. The leaders were unable to understand what was going on, to understand what the needs of the people were.

:10 they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark;

dumb ‘illem – mute, silent, dumb, unable to speak . If the guy sitting up in the city tower doesn’t have the vocal chords to let out a holler and a whoop when there’s trouble, it doesn’t do any good, even if he sees the enemy coming.

These leaders of the nation, even if they would see the trouble they were in, they wouldn’t have the force or authority to say anything that would bring a change.


Integrity brings authority.

As we’re going to see, these leaders lacked integrity in their lives.

As a result, no one would listen to them if they would ever speak up for the truth.


An example of this can be seen in the life of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.

Lot and Abraham had both grown rich and prosperous, and eventually had to split their flocks up and separate from each other because the land couldn’t sustain them living together. Lot chose to live down by the Jordan River, where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were. As you follow Lot’s life, you see him go from where he "pitched his tent toward Sodom (Gen. 13:12), then he lived "in Sodom" (Gen. 14:12), to eventually coming to the place where he was even considered a leader in Sodom (Gen. 19:1,9). As a result of Lot becoming quite comfortable and compromising in a wicked place, when it came time to listen to the angels’ warning and leave Sodom, Lot was told to warn his family as well.

(Gen 19:14 NLT) So Lot rushed out to tell his daughters' fiancees, "Quick, get out of the city! The LORD is going to destroy it." But the young men thought he was only joking.

Because Lot had lived a life of compromise, his words carried no authority.

:10 sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

The leaders were lazy.

(Prov 24:30-34 KJV) I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; {31} And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. {32} Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. {33} Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: {34} So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way,

greedy ‘az – strong, mighty, fierce

enoughsob‘ah – satisfaction, satiety, one’s fill

understandbiyn – to discern, understand, consider; (Hiphil); to understand; to cause to understand, give understanding, teach

:11 every one for his gain

gainbetsa‘– profit, unjust gain, gain (profit) acquired by violence

These guys were leadership positions because of what they got out of it for themselves, not for what they could to for others.


Ministry is about what you can do for others.

It’s not about what you can get out of it for yourself.

When you get to the place in ministry where you become more focused on what is happening to you rather than what is happening to others, it’s time for an attitude change.

(Phil 2:3-4 NLT) Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. {4} Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.

You will find that as you make yourself available to be used by God, that He will be constantly at work to keep you humble. He will be constantly making sure you have sufficient thorns in your flesh to keep you depending on Him. You will be having to "die daily".

If you get caught up in doing ministry because it makes you feel good, you can expect to be disappointed.

Jesus didn’t die on a cross because it made Him feel good. He died on a cross because He loved us more than He loved His own life.

:12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink

fillcaba’ – to drink heavily or largely, imbibe

strong drinkshekar – strong drink, intoxicating drink, fermented or intoxicating liquor

(Isa 56:12 NLT) "Come," they say. "We will get some wine and have a party. Let's all get drunk. Let this go on and on, and tomorrow will be even better."

This is not the godly leader.

:7 for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.


House of prayer

Technically, this is talking about the temple in Jerusalem. But it can also apply to us as well. Paul calls the church gathered together a "temple" (1Cor. 3:16), and he also calls the body of each believer a "temple" (1Cor. 6:19).


TABLE FOR TWO by Kirsten Burgess

He sits by himself at a table for two. The uniformed waiter returns to his side and ask, "Would you like to go ahead and order, sir?" The man has, after all, been waiting since seven o’clock—almost half an hour. "No, thank you," the man smiles. "I’ll wait for her a while longer. How about some more coffee?"

"Certainly, sir."

The man sits, his clear blue eyes gazing straight through the flowered centerpiece. He fingers his napkin, allowing the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and mellow music to fill his mind. He is dressed in sport coat and tie. His dark brown hair is neatly combed, but one stray lock insists on dropping to his forehead. The scent of his cologne adds to his clean cut image. He is dressed up enough to make a companion feel important, respected, loved. Yet he is not so formal as to make one uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every precaution to make others feel at ease with him.

Still, he sits alone.

The waiter returns to fill the man’s coffee cup. "Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?" "No, thank you."

The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity. "I don’t mean to pry, but..." His voice trails off. This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip.

"Go ahead," the man encourages. His is strong, yet sensitive, inviting conversation.

"Why do you bother waiting for her?" the waiter finally blurts out. This man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.

Says the man quietly, "Because she needs me."

"Are you sure?"


"Well, sir, no offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn’t acting much like it. She’s stood you up three times just this week."

The man winces, and looks down at the table. "Yes, I know."

"Then why do you still come here and wait?"

"Cassie said that she would be here."

"She’s said that before," the waiter protests. "I wouldn’t put up with it. Why do you?"

Now the man looks up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, "Because I love her."

The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides. Across the room, he turns to look at the man again. The man slowly pours cream into his coffee. He twirls his spoon between his fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and sips, silently watching those around him. He doesn’t look crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl has qualities that I don’t know about. Or maybe the man’s love is stronger than most. The waiter shakes himself out of his musings to take an order from a party of five.

The man watches the waiter, wonders if he’s ever been stood up. The man has, many times. But he still can’t get used to it. Each time, it hurts. He’s looked forward to this evening all day. He has many things, exciting things, to tell Cassie. But, more importantly, he wants to hear Cassie’s voice. He wants her to tell him all about her day, her triumphs, her defeats....anything, really. He has tried so many times to show Cassie how much he loves her. He’d just like to know that she cares for him, too. He sips sporadically at the coffee, and loses himself in thought, knowing that Cassie is late, but still hoping that she will arrive.

The clock says nine-thirty when the waiter returns to the man’s table. "Is there anything I can get for you?"

The still empty chair stabs at the man. "No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have the check please?"

"Yes, sir."

When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast. But he takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why do you do this, Cassie, his mind cries as he gets up from the table.

"Good-bye," the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.

"Good night. Thank you for your service."

"You’re welcome, sir," says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the man’s eyes that his smile doesn’t hide.

The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes glisten as he thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He stops at the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will be able to make it, he thinks.

"Seven o’clock tomorrow for party of two?" the hostess confirms.

"That’s right," the man replies.

"Do you think she’ll come"" asks the hostess. She doesn’t mean to be rude, but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.

"Someday, yes. And I will be waiting for her." The man buttons his overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether they are hunched against the wind or against the man’s hurt.

As the man turns toward home, Cassie turns into bed. She is tired after an evening out with friends. As she reaches toward her night stand to set the alarm, she sees the note that she scribbled to herself last night. ‘7:00,’ it says. ‘Spend some time in prayer.’ Darn, she thinks. She forgot again. She feels a twinge of guilt, but quickly pushes it aside. She needed that time with her friends. And now she needs her sleep. She can pray tomorrow night. Jesus will forgive her.

And she’s sure He doesn’t mind.