Isaiah 56

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD says,
Lift up justice and do what is right,
for soon my rescue will come
and my salvation will be revealed.
2The one who does this, who holds it close,
who observes the sabbath without marring it
and does no evil shall be blessed.
3Don’t let foreigners who are bound to the LORD say,
“Surely the LORD will remove me from the chosen people.”
And don’t let the eunuch say, “I’m no more than a dead tree.”
4This is what the LORD says:
Eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose to do the things that are pleasing to me
and diligently observe my laws,
5will be welcomed in my temple and within my walls,
and will be given a designated place,
and will be remembered better than sons and daughters.
I will give them a name that can’t be forgotten.
6The foreigners who embrace and serve the LORD
and love the LORD’s name,
all those who observe the Sabbath and don’t belittle it,
and all those who embrace my covenant –
7they are the ones I will welcome in my sacred mountain.
I will cause them to rejoice in my house of prayer.
I will accept their burnt offerings
and other sacrifices on my altar,
because my temple will be known
as a house of prayer for all people.
8The LORD, who gathers Israel’s outcasts, says,
“I will bring others in to join those already gathered.

9I summon all the animals of the forest to come and devour.
10Israel’s sentinels are blind and stupid.
They are like dogs that can’t bark.
They are dreamers who lie down because they love to sleep.
11The dogs have a big appetite; they never seem to get enough.
The shepherds don’t understand, either.
They have all followed their own desires,
chasing after profits for themselves.
12They say, “Let’s go get some wine and drink it all down.
Tomorrow will be like today, only better!”


1-8: There is a subtle shift taking place: the great restoration that God will bring about is now being tied to the people’s obedience. Those who get to participate in the glorious renewal are those who “keep the Sabbath” and diligently observe God’s laws. However, the umbrella under which God’s people stand is being enlarged to include eunuchs (who were excluded before because they were seen as physically blemished) and foreigners, as long as they keep the Sabbaths and hold fast the covenant. The end of verse 7 is quoted by Jesus at Mark 11:17.

9-12: Most of the blame for what Israel will suffer at the hands of the Babylonians and others is laid at the feet of their leaders, who are referred to as dogs (secular rulers) and shepherds (priests).


Honoring the Sabbath is the gateway to the grace of God.