A charge to keep the Divine precepts. (1,2) Blessings promised. (3-8) Reproof to the careless watchmen, the teachers and rulers of the Jews. (9-12)
Verses 1-2 The Lord tells us what are his expectations of duty from us. Be honest and just in all dealings. Also strictly observe the sabbath day. To have the blessing of God upon employments all the week, make conscience of keeping the sabbath holy. Have nothing to do with sin. Blessed is the man that keeps his hand from all things displeasing to God and hurtful to his own soul. Those who, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, will be found walking in ways of holy obedience.
Verses 3-8 Unbelief often suggests things to discourage believers, against which God has expressly guarded. Spiritual blessings are unspeakably better than having sons and daughters; for children are a care, and may prove a grief and shame, but the blessings we partake of in God's house, are comforts which cannot be made bitter. Those who love the Lord truly, will serve him faithfully, and then his commandments are not grievous. Three things are promised. Assistance: I will not only bid them welcome, but incline them to come. Acceptance, and comfort: though they came mourning to the house of prayer, they shall go away rejoicing. They shall find ease by casting their cares and burdens upon God. Many a sorrowful spirit has been made joyful in the house of prayer. The Gentiles shall be one body with the Jews, that, as Christ says, ( John 10:16 ) , there may be one fold and one Shepherd. Thanks be to God that none are separated from him except by wilful sin and unbelief; and if we come to him, we shall be accepted through the sacrifice of our great High Priest.
Verses 9-12 Desolating judgments are called for; and this severe rebuke of the rulers and teachers of the Jewish church, is applicable to other ages and places. It is bad with a people when their shepherds slumber, and are eager after the world. Let us pray the Great Shepherd to send us pastors after his own heart, who will feed us with knowledge, that we may rejoice in his holy name, and that believers may be daily added to the church.
Isaiah 56:1-12 . THE PREPARATION NEEDED ON THE PART OF THOSE WHO WISH TO BE ADMITTED TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
1. judgment--equity. John the Baptist preached similarly a return to righteousness, as needed to prepare men for Messiah's first coming ( Luke 3:3 Luke 3:8-14 ). So it shall be before the second coming ( Malachi 4:4-6 ).
near to come--( Matthew 3:2 , 4:17 ), also as to the second coming ( Isaiah 62:10 Isaiah 62:11 , Luke 21:28 Luke 21:31 , Romans 13:11 Romans 13:12 , Hebrews 10:25 ).
righteousness--answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause; therefore it means righteousness which bringeth salvation ( Isaiah 46:13 , Romans 3:25 Romans 3:26 ).
2. ( Luke 12:43 ).
the man--Hebrew, enosh, "a man in humble life," in contradistinction to Hebrew, ish, "one of high rank." Even the humblest, as "the stranger" and "the eunuch" ( Isaiah 56:4 Isaiah 56:6 ), are admissible to these privileges.
this . . . it--what follows: "keeping the Sabbath," &c. ( Isaiah 58:13 Isaiah 58:14 , Ezekiel 20:12 ). A proof that the Sabbath, in the spirit of its obligation, was to be binding under the Gospel ( Isaiah 66:23 ). That gospel times are referred to is plain, from the blessing not being pronounced on the man who observed the sacrificial ritual of the Jewish law.
layeth hold--image from one grasping firmly some precious object which he is afraid of having forcibly snatched from him. The "Sabbath" here includes all the ordinances of divine worship under the new gospel law.
keepeth . . . hand . . . from . . . evil--The observance of the second table of the law; as the "Sabbath" referred to the first table. Together, they form the whole duty of man, the worship of God and a holy life.
3. God welcomes all believers, without distinction of persons, under the new economy ( Acts 10:34 Acts 10:35 ).
joined . . . to . . . Lord--( Numbers 18:4 Numbers 18:7 ). "Proselytes."
separated--Proselytes from the Gentiles were not admitted to the same privileges as native Israelites. This barrier between Jews and Gentiles was to be broken down ( Ephesians 2:14-16 ).
eunuch--( Acts 8:27 , &c.). Eunuchs were chamberlains over harems, or court ministers in general.
dry tree--barren (compare Luke 23:31 ); not admissible into the congregation of Israel ( Deuteronomy 23:1-3 ). Under the Gospel the eunuch and stranger should be released from religious and civil disabilities.
4. please me--sacrifice their own pleasure to mine.
take hold--so "layeth hold"
5. in mine house--the temple, the emblem of the Church ( 1 Timothy 3:15 ). They shall no longer be confined as proselytes were, to the outer court, but shall be admitted "into the holiest" ( Hebrews 10:19 Hebrews 10:20 ).
a place--literally, "a hand."
than of sons--Though the eunuch is barren of children ( Isaiah 56:3 ), I will give him a more lasting name than that of being father of sons and daughters (regarded as a high honor among the Hebrews) ( John 1:12 , 10:3 , 1 John 3:1 , Revelation 2:17 , 3:12 ).
6. join . . . Lord--( Jeremiah 50:6 ). Conditions of admission to the privileges of adoption.
7. Even them--( Ephesians 2:11-13 ).
to my holy mountain--Jerusalem, the seat of the Lord's throne in His coming kingdom ( Isaiah 2:2 , Jeremiah 3:17 ).
joyful--( Romans 5:11 ).
burnt offerings . . . sacrifices--spiritual, of which the literal were types ( Romans 12:1 , Hebrews 13:15 , 1 Peter 2:5 ).
accepted--( Ephesians 1:6 ).
altar--( Hebrews 13:10 ), spiritually, the Cross of Christ, which sanctifies our sacrifices of prayer and praise.
house . . . for all people--or rather, "peoples." No longer restricted to one favored people ( Malachi 1:11 , John 4:21 John 4:23 , 1 Timothy 2:8 ). To be fully realized at the second coming ( Isaiah 2:2-4 ). No longer literal, but spiritual sacrifice, namely, "prayer" shall be offered ( Psalms 141:2 , 51:17 , Malachi 1:11 , Matthew 21:13 ).
8. Jehovah will not only restore the scattered outcasts of Israel ( Isaiah 11:12 , Psalms 147:2 ) to their own land, but "will gather others ('strangers') to him (Israel), besides those gathered" (Margin, "to his gathered"; that is, in addition to the Israelites collected from their dispersion), ( John 10:16 , Ephesians 1:10 , 2:19 ).
9. beasts--Gentile idolatrous nations hostile to the Jews, summoned by God to chastise them ( Jeremiah 12:7-9 , 50:17 , Ezekiel 34:5 ): the Chaldeans and subsequently the Romans. The mention of the "outcasts of Israel" ( Isaiah 56:8 ) brings in view the outcasting, caused by the sins of their rulers ( Isaiah 56:10-12 ).
to devour--namely, Israel.
10. His watchmen--Israel's spiritual leaders ( Isaiah 62:6 , Ezekiel 3:17 ).
dumb dogs--image from bad shepherds' watchdogs, which fail to give notice, by barking, of the approach of wild beasts.
blind--( Matthew 23:16 ).
sleeping, lying down--rather, "dreamers, sluggards" [LOWTH]. Not merely sleeping inactive, but under visionary delusions.
loving to slumber--not merely slumbering involuntarily, but loving it.
11. greedy--literally, "strong" (that is, insatiable) in appetite ( Ezekiel 34:2 Ezekiel 34:3 , Micah 3:11 ).
cannot understand--unable to comprehend the wants of the people, spiritually: so Isaiah 56: Isaiah 56:10 , "cannot bark."
look to . . . own way--that is, their own selfish interests; not to the spiritual welfare of the people ( Jeremiah 6:13 , Ezekiel 22:27 ).
from his quarter--rather, "from the highest to the lowest" [LOWTH]. "From his quarter"; that is, from one end to the other of them, one and all ( Genesis 19:4 ).
12. fetch wine--language of the national teachers challenging one another to drink. BARNES translates, "I will take another cup" ( Isaiah 5:11 ).
to-morrow, &c.--Their self-indulgence was habitual and intentional: not merely they drink, but they mean to continue so.