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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Isaiah 56

Verses 1-8

The Gentile’s Desire for Salvation Comments - Israel Isaiah 56:1-8 reveals that the Gentile nations are also desiring God’s salvation, thus prophesying of their future grafting into the vine of Israel. Although the nations of the earth have not been entrusted with the oracles of God, they will readily embrace them and carefully obey them if given the opportunity. In contrast, the passage that follows (Isaiah 56:9-12) describes Israel’s foolish slumber and disregard for their opportunity of salvation (Romans 11:17).

Romans 11:17, “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;”

Isaiah 56:1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

Isaiah 56:1 Comments - The Messiah will come, and He will reveal God’s standard of righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Before His arrival, John the Baptist will be come the herald to the Jews of His glorious arrival and offer of salvation. He will preach repentance for the Jews in preparation for His revealing to Israel. John will say in essence, “Keep ye judgment, and do justice,” as a way of preparing for the Messiah’s arrival. John will be a herald of God’s standard of judgment and justice.

Isaiah 56:2 Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

Isaiah 56:2 Comments - Commentators generally understand the keeping of the Sabbath as symbolic of the keeping of all Jewish rites, and they carry its significance into the Gospel dispensation as a symbol of the Christian’s devotion to the Lord. The single, most important indicator of a Jew walking upright before the Lord is demonstrated the keeping of the Sabbath. This act of divine duty of a man’s lifestyle testifies to his devotion to the Lord. For the Christian, his church attendance serves as a testimony of his salvation and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. For either dispensation, whether under the Law, or under the Gospel, man finds renewed strength on the Sabbath to go forth and keep himself from evil during the course of the week. Adam Clarke cites the Jewish rabbis who said that had the Jews kept the Sabbath, Jerusalem would have never been destroyed. [82] In the Gospel dispensation, a Christian generally backslides and begins to commit evil against his fellow man when he stops attending church.

[82] Adam Clarke, Isaiah, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Isaiah 56:1.

Isaiah 56:2 Comments - The book of Isaiah uses the Hebrew word “sabbath” ( שַׁבָּת ) on seven occasions (Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 56:4; Isaiah 56:6; Isaiah 58:13 [twice]; Isaiah 66:23).

Isaiah 56:3 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

Isaiah 56:3 Comments - In Isaiah 56:3 we get a glimpse of an oppressed people seeking redemption and deliverance from this world. The children of strangers in a foreign land often work menial tasks, being denied access to the luxurious jobs reserved for the sons of local, wealthy citizens. The eunuchs were often made eunuchs by men while in slavery. The desire of the eunuch shall be met by the Lord in Isaiah 56:4-5, and the desire of the stranger met in Isaiah 56:6-8.

Isaiah 56:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

Isaiah 56:5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Isaiah 56:6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

Isaiah 56:6 Comments - If God will gather His people from the ends of the earth, and restore to them their land, He will certainly bring others who desire to join themselves to the God of Israel.

Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Isaiah 56:8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

Verses 1-12

Israel’s Redemption - The chapters that follow the prophecy of Christ’s sufferings in Isaiah 53:1-12 tell the children of God to rejoice; for Christ has given them the victory over sin, death and the grave. However, these chapters speak of Christ’s redemption from the perspective of the nation of Israel rather than from the perspective of the Gentiles; for the book of Isaiah contains prophecies of the future destiny of Israel. Later in redemptive history, the Church will be grafted into these prophecies as members of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Verses 9-12

Israel’s Carelessness Regarding Their Redemption Comments - The Gentile’s watchfulness and desire to enter in to God’s plan of redemption (Isaiah 56:1-8) is now contrasted with the carelessness and slumber of Israel regarding the salvation that is offered through God’s people (Isaiah 56:9-12). The Jews were to be alert and watchful for the promise of their salvation, as stated in the opening verse of this passage, “for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1) The Messiah was coming, and John the Baptist would be come the herald to the Jews of His glorious arrival and offer of salvation. Unfortunately, the Jews were in a slumber (Romans 11:8), so that they rejected and crucified their Messiah.

Romans 11:8, “(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.”

Isaiah 56:9 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.

Isaiah 56:9 Comments - God calls for divine judgment upon His careless people Israel.

Deuteronomy 28:26, “And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.”

Isaiah 56:10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

Isaiah 56:10 Comments - Dogs were used in ancient times, as well as today, as watchdogs in the night.

Isaiah 56:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

Isaiah 56:10 Comments - As watchdogs looked after their masters, shepherds served a similar role by watching after their master’s sheep. Figuratively speaking, these shepherds refer to the Jewish priests and leaders over Israel, God’s people (Ezekiel 34:1-10).

Isaiah 56:12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Isaiah 56". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.