Isaiah 56; Isaiah 57; Isaiah 58; 2 Thessalonians 2 (New International Reader's Version)

The LORD Will Save Those Who Come to Him

1 The LORD says, "Do what is fair and right. I will soon come and save you. Soon everyone will know that what I do is right. 2 Blessed is the man who does what I want him to. He is faithful in keeping the Sabbath day. He does not misuse it. He does not do what is evil on that day." 3 Suppose an outsider wants to follow the Lord. Then he shouldn't say, "The LORD won't accept me as one of his people." And a eunuch shouldn't say, "I'm like a dry tree that doesn't bear any fruit." 4 The LORD says, "Suppose some eunuchs keep my Sabbath days. They choose to do what pleases me. And they are faithful in keeping my covenant. 5 Then I will set up a monument in the area of my temple. Their names will be written on it. That will be better for them than having sons and daughters. The names of the eunuchs will be remembered forever. They will never be forgotten. 6 "Suppose outsiders want to follow me and serve me. They want to love me and worship me. They keep the Sabbath day and do not misuse it. And they are faithful in keeping my covenant. 7 Then I will bring them to my holy mountain of Zion. I will give them joy in my house. They can pray there. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices on my altar. My house will be called a house where people from all nations can pray." 8 The LORD and King will gather those who were taken away from their homes in Israel. He announces, "I will gather them to myself. And I will gather others to join them."

The LORD Judges Israel's Evil Leaders

9 Come, all of you enemy nations! Come like wild animals. Come and destroy like animals in the forest. 10 Israel's prophets are blind. They don't know the Lord. All of them are like watchdogs that can't even bark. They just lie around and dream. They love to sleep. 11 They are like dogs that love to eat. They never get enough. They are like shepherds who don't have any understanding. All of them do as they please. They only look for what they can get for themselves. 12 "Come!" they shout. "Let's get some wine! Let's drink all the beer we can! Tomorrow we'll do the same thing. And that will be even better than today." 1 Those who are right with God die. And no one really cares about it. Men who are faithful to the LORD are swept away by trouble. And no one understands why that happens to those who do what is right. 2 Those who lead honest lives will enjoy peace and rest when they die. 3 The LORD says, "Come here, you children of women who practice evil magic! You are children of prostitutes and those who commit adultery. 4 Who are you making fun of? Who are you laughing at? Who are you sticking your tongue out at? You are people who refuse to obey me. You are just a bunch of liars! 5 You burn with sinful longing among the oak trees. You worship your gods by having sex under every green tree. You sacrifice your children in the valleys. You also do it under the cliffs. 6 You have chosen some of the smooth stones in the valleys to be your gods. You have joined yourselves to them. You have even poured out drink offerings to them. You have given grain offerings to them. So why should I take pity on you? 7 You have made your bed to have sex on a very high hill. You went up there to offer your sacrifices. 8 You have set up statues to remind you of your gods. You have put them behind your doors and doorposts. You deserted me. You invited other lovers into your bed. You climbed into it and welcomed them. You made a deal with them. And you looked at their naked bodies. 9 You went to the god Molech with olive oil. You took a lot of perfume along with you. You sent your messengers to places far away. You even sent them down to the place of the dead. 10 All of your efforts wore you out. But you would not say, 'It's hopeless.' You received new strength. So you did not give up. 11 "Who are you so afraid of that you have not been true to me? You have not remembered me. You do not even care about me. I have not punished you for a long time. That is why you are not afraid of me. 12 You have not done what is right or good. I will let everyone know about it. And that will not be of any benefit to you. 13 Go ahead and cry out for help to all of the statues of your gods. See if they can save you! The wind will carry them off. Just a puff of air will blow them away. But anyone who comes to me for safety will receive the land. He will possess my holy mountain of Zion."

The LORD Comforts Those Who Aren't Proud

14 A messenger says, "Build up the road! Build it up! Get it ready! Remove anything that would keep my people from coming back." 15 The One who is highly honored lives forever. His name is holy. He says, "I live in a high and holy place. But I also live with anyone who turns away from his sins. I live with anyone who is not proud. I give new life to him. I give it to anyone who turns away from his sins. 16 I will not find fault with my people forever. I will not always be angry with them. If I were, I would cause their spirits to grow weak. The very breath of life would go out of the people I created. 17 I was very angry with them. They always longed for more and more of everything. So I punished them for that sin. I turned my face away from them because I was angry. But they kept on wanting their own way. 18 I have seen what they have done. But I will heal them. I will guide them. And I will comfort them just as I did before. 19 Then the people of Israel who are sorry for their sins will praise me. I will give perfect peace to those who are far away and those who are near. And I will heal them," says the Lord. 20 But those who are evil are like the rolling sea. It never rests. Its waves toss up mud and sand. 21 "There is no peace for those who are evil," says my God.

What True Worship Is All About

1 The LORD told me, "Shout out loud. Do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Tell my people that they have refused to obey me. Tell the family of Jacob how much they have sinned. 2 Day after day they worship me. They seem ready and willing to know how I want them to live. They act as if they were a nation that does what is right. They act as if they have not turned away from my commands. They claim to want me to give them fair decisions. They seem ready and willing to come near and worship me. 3 'We have gone without food,' they say. 'Why haven't you noticed it? We have made ourselves suffer. Why haven't you paid any attention to us?' "On the day when you fast, you do as you please. You take advantage of all of your workers. 4 When you fast, it ends in arguing and fighting. You hit one another with your fists. That is an evil thing to do. The way you are now fasting keeps your prayers from being heard in heaven. 5 Do you think that is the way I want you to fast? Is it only a time for a man to make himself suffer? Is it only for people to bow their heads like tall grass that is bent by the wind? Is it only for people to lie down on black cloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast? Do you think I can accept that? 6 "Here is the way I want you to fast. "Set free those who are held by chains without any reason. Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves. Set free those who are crushed. Break every evil chain. 7 Share your food with hungry people. Provide homeless people with a place to stay. Give naked people clothes to wear. Provide for the needs of your own family. 8 Then the light of my blessing will shine on you like the rising sun. I will heal you quickly. I will march out ahead of you. And my glory will follow behind you and guard you. That is because I always do what is right. 9 You will call out to me for help. And I will answer you. You will cry out. And I will say, 'Here I am.' "Get rid of the chains you use to hold others down. Stop pointing your finger at others as if they had done something wrong. Stop saying harmful things about them. 10 Work hard to feed hungry people. Satisfy the needs of those who are crushed. Then my blessing will light up your darkness. And the night of your suffering will become as bright as the noonday sun. 11 I will always guide you. I will satisfy your needs in a land that is baked by the sun. I will make you stronger. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water. You will be like a spring whose water never runs dry. 12 Your people will rebuild the cities that were destroyed long ago. And you will build again on the old foundations. You will be called The One Who Repairs Broken Walls. You will be called The One Who Makes City Streets Like New Again. 13 "Do not work on the Sabbath day. Do not do just anything you want to on my holy day. Make the Sabbath a day you can enjoy. Honor my holy day. Do not work on it. Do not do just anything you want to. Do not talk about things that are worthless. 14 Then you will find your joy in me. I will give you control over the most important places in the land. And you will enjoy all of the good things in the land I gave your father Jacob." The LORD has spoken.

The Man of Sin

1 Brothers and sisters, we want to ask you something. It has to do with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It concerns the time when we will go to be with him. 2 What if you receive a prophecy, report or letter that is supposed to have come from us? What if it says that the day of the Lord has already come? If it does, we ask you not to become easily upset or alarmed. 3 Don't let anyone trick you in any way. That day will not come until people rise up against God. It will not come until the man of sin appears. He is a marked man. He is sentenced to be destroyed. 4 He will oppose everything that is called God. He will oppose everything that is worshiped. He will give himself power over everything. He will set himself up in God's temple. He will announce that he himself is God. 5 Don't you remember? When I was with you, I used to tell you those things. 6 Now you know what is holding the man of sin back. He is held back so that he can make his appearance at the right time. 7 The secret power of sin is already at work. But the one who now holds that power back will keep doing it until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then the man of sin will appear. The Lord Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of his mouth. The glorious brightness of Jesus' coming will destroy the man of sin. 9 The coming of the man of sin will be Satan's work. His work will be seen in all kinds of fake miracles, signs and wonders. 10 It will be seen in every kind of evil that fools people who are dying. They are dying because they refuse to love the truth. The truth would save them. 11 So God will fool them completely. Then they will believe the lie. 12 Many will not believe the truth. They will take pleasure in evil. They will be judged.

Stand Firm

13 Brothers and sisters, we should always thank God for you. The Lord loves you. God chose you from the beginning. He wanted you to be saved. Salvation comes through the Holy Spirit's work. He makes people holy. It also comes through believing the truth. 14 He chose you to be saved by accepting the good news that we preach. And you will share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Brothers and sisters, stand firm. Hold on to what we taught you. We passed our teachings on to you by what we preached and wrote. 16 Our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father loved us. By his grace God gave us comfort that will last forever. The hope he gave us is good. May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father 17 comfort your hearts. May they make you strong in every good thing you do and say.
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