Isaiah Chapter 56  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Isaiah 56
Isa 56:1

“This is what Yahweh says.” Isaiah 56:1-8 speaks about the Millennial Kingdom and what it takes to gain everlasting life and entrance into Christ’s kingdom on earth.

“do righteousness.” In this context, “righteousness” is doing what is right to God and others (see commentary on Matt. 5:6). The HCSB has, “Preserve justice and do what is right,” and that catches the meaning well.

“for my salvation is soon to come.” In this context, God’s coming salvation is the ultimate salvation that will come when the Messiah comes and rules the earth; the context is not about some short-lived deliverance from oppressive nations. The kingdom Christ will set up on earth will be salvation and deliverance such as the world has never seen, and it is often referred to by scholars as the “Millennial Kingdom” because it will last 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-6). There were very few bright spots in history for Judah after the Assyrian attack that destroyed Israel (722 BC) in the time of Isaiah, so no historical time of deliverance would fulfill this prophecy in Isaiah 56.

[For more on the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 5: “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]

Isa 56:2

“Blessed is the man who does this.” Isaiah 56:2-8 now speak of what a person has to do to be part of the Millennial Kingdom, in other words, to gain everlasting life. What had to be very encouraging to non-Jews is that they were obviously included in God’s plan of salvation (cp. Isa. 56:3, 6-7).

Isa 56:3

“the foreigner.” Isaiah 56:1-8 makes it clear that non-Jews who keep God’s laws will gain everlasting life and be in the kingdom of the Messiah when he rules the earth.

Isa 56:4

“For this is what Yahweh says.” God now speaks about the blessings that those people who have obeyed God in their life on earth will receive in the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus Christ reigns as king on the earth (Isa. 56:4-8). Thus we see in Isaiah 56:7 that in the Millennial Kingdom, the Temple of God will be a house of prayer for all nations, not just the Jews. That is new revelation to the Jews, because up until that time the Temple had been off limits to non-Jews, and so much so that even during the lifetime of the apostles if a non-Jew entered into the sacred space of the Temple he was killed (cp. Acts 21:28-31).

[For more verses in Isaiah that speak of the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Isaiah 2:2. For more on Christ’s future kingdom on earth, see Appendix 5: “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]

Isa 56:5

“I will give in my house and inside my walls.” This is a promise that will be fulfilled in the Temple that will be built in the Millennial Kingdom. This promise was certainly not fulfilled in Solomon’s Temple, nor the one built under the oversight of Ezra and Nehemiah (which was later enlarged and improved by Herod the Great). Isaiah 56:1-5 are promises that the righteous people will receive everlasting life, but that promise is couched in vocabulary that points to the Millennial Kingdom and Millennial Temple.

Isa 56:6(top)
Isa 56:7

“my holy house of prayer.” When God says “my holy mountain” and “my house of prayer,” He is referring to Mount Zion where the New Jerusalem ruled by Christ will be (cp. Isa. 27:13; 57:13; 65:11), and the new Temple that will be built for the Millennial Kingdom (cp. Ezek. 40-43).

[For more on the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 5: “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]

Isa 56:8(top)
Isa 56:9

“All you animals of the field, come to devour.” The subject abruptly shifts in Isaiah 56:9 from the blessings that the righteous people will receive, which is being a part of Christ's wonderful kingdom on earth, to the curse that the unrighteous will receive, which for some of them will be being killed and having their bodies eaten by wild animals (Rev. 19:17-18, 21). This kind of quick shift occurs often in prophecy. The righteous are blessed and the wicked are cursed. God would not have to go into the specifics of the Battle of Armageddon and its aftermath at this point in Isaiah because it was well known that God said that people who disobeyed God would be cursed and part of that curse was that their dead bodies would be eaten by animals (Deut. 28:26).

Isa 56:10

“His watchmen are blind.” Isaiah 56:10 starts a new subject, which concerns the evil leaders of Judah and what happens under their rule. It would have been very helpful to the English reader if Isaiah 56:10 had been numbered as Isaiah 57:1, which would make the current Isaiah 57:1 be Isaiah 57:4. If that were done, the Bible reader would more easily see the scripture flow from the end of Isaiah 56 through the start of Isaiah 57. Then it would be much clearer as to why the righteous people were being taken from the earth and why no one seemed to notice or care (Isa. 57:1).

The close of Isaiah 56 (Isa. 56:10-12) describes the leaders of the time, and they are referred to by common words for leaders: “watchmen” and “shepherds.” But they are also referred to in a derogatory manner and called “dogs.” They did not keep watch and give warnings (they are mute dogs that cannot bark—so even as “dogs” they don’t bark and warn others); they love to sleep; they are greedy and seek their own gain instead of the welfare of others; they are shepherds who have no understanding; and they love to get drunk. In that horrific situation, the righteous people quietly disappear. Some no doubt die or are even executed after kangaroo courts and mock trials. Some likely move away, and some, sadly, seeing the prosperity of the wicked and that God does not seem to care or intervene, lose their will to stand up for the righteous laws of God and join the ranks of the evil leaders. Thus, slowly but surely, the righteous people “perish” and are “gathered to their ancestors,” a euphemism for death because dead people were often buried in the tombs of their ancestors. Yet the wicked people are so focused on themselves and their own gain that “no one takes it to heart” and there is “no one considering” what is happening or that in fact the righteous people are actually being taken from the earth and thus spared experiencing the terrible evil that God foretold would come upon the land.

Isa 56:11(top)
Isa 56:12(top)

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