Isaiah 56; Isaiah 57; Isaiah 58; 2 Thessalonians 2

1 The Lord says to his people, "Do what is just and right, for soon I will save you. 2 I will bless those who always observe the Sabbath and do not misuse it. I will bless those who do nothing evil." 3 A foreigner who has joined the Lord's people should not say, "The Lord will not let me worship with his people." A man who has been castrated should never think that because he cannot have children, he can never be part of God's people. 4 The Lord says to such a man, "If you honor me by observing the Sabbath and if you do what pleases me and faithfully keep my covenant, 5 then your name will be remembered in my Temple and among my people longer than if you had sons and daughters. You will never be forgotten." 6 And the Lord says to those foreigners who become part of his people, who love him and serve him, who observe the Sabbath and faithfully keep his covenant: 7 "I will bring you to Zion, my sacred hill, give you joy in my house of prayer, and accept the sacrifices you offer on my altar. My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations." 8 The Sovereign Lord, who has brought his people Israel home from exile, has promised that he will bring still other people to join them. 9 The Lord has told the foreign nations to come like wild animals and devour his people. 10 He says, "All the leaders, who are supposed to warn my people, are blind! They know nothing. They are like watch dogs that don't bark - they only lie around and dream. How they love to sleep! 11 They are like greedy dogs that never get enough. These leaders have no understanding. They each do as they please and seek their own advantage. 12 "Let's get some wine,' these drunkards say, "and drink all we can hold! Tomorrow will be even better than today!' "
1 Good people die, and no one understands or even cares. But when they die, no calamity can hurt them. 2 Those who live good lives find peace and rest in death. 3 Come here to be judged, you sinners! You are no better than sorcerers, adulterers, and prostitutes. 4 Who are you making fun of? Who are you liars jeering at? 5 You worship the fertility gods by having sex under those sacred trees of yours. You offer your children as sacrifices in the rocky caves near stream beds. 6 You take smooth stones from there and worship them as gods. You pour out wine as offerings to them and bring them grain offerings. Do you think I am pleased with all this? 7 You go to the high mountains to offer sacrifices and have sex. 8 You set up your obscene idols just inside your front doors. You forsake me; you take off your clothes and climb in your large beds with your lovers, whom you pay to sleep with you. And there you satisfy your lust. 9 You put on your perfumes and ointments and go to worship the god Molech. To find gods to worship, you send messengers far and wide, even to the world of the dead. 10 You wear yourselves out looking for other gods, but you never give up. You think your obscene idols give you strength, and so you never grow weak. 11 The Lord says, "Who are these gods that make you afraid, so that you tell me lies and forget me completely? Have you stopped honoring me because I have kept silent for so long? 12 You think that what you do is right, but I will expose your conduct, and your idols will not be able to help you. 13 When you cry for help, let those idols of yours save you! A puff of wind will carry them off! But those who trust in me will live in the land and will worship me in my Temple." 14 The Lord says, "Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road and make it ready! 15 "I am the high and holy God, who lives forever. I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope. 16 I gave my people life, and I will not continue to accuse them or be angry with them forever. 17 I was angry with them because of their sin and greed, and so I punished them and abandoned them. But they were stubborn and kept on going their own way. 18 "I have seen how they acted, but I will heal them. I will lead them and help them, and I will comfort those who mourn. 19 I offer peace to all, both near and far! I will heal my people. 20 But evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and muck. 21 There is no safety for sinners," says the Lord.
1 The Lord says, "Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2 They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshiping me." 3 The people ask, "Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?" The Lord says to them, "The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4 Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5 When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that? 6 "The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives. 8 "Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9 When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond. "If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10 if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11 And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. 12 Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses." 13 The Lord says, "If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honor it by not traveling, working, or talking idly on that day, 14 then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honored all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken."
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to be with him: I beg you, my friends, 2 not to be so easily confused in your thinking or upset by the claim that the Day of the Lord has come. Perhaps it is thought that we said this while prophesying or preaching, or that we wrote it in a letter. 3 Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day will not come until the final Rebellion takes place and the Wicked One appears, who is destined to hell. 4 He will oppose every so-called god or object of worship and will put himself above them all. He will even go in and sit down in God's Temple and claim to be God. 5 Don't you remember? I told you all this while I was with you. 6 Yet there is something that keeps this from happening now, and you know what it is. At the proper time, then, the Wicked One will appear. 7 The Mysterious Wickedness is already at work, but what is going to happen will not happen until the one who holds it back is taken out of the way. 8 Then the Wicked One will be revealed, but when the Lord Jesus comes, he will kill him with the breath from his mouth and destroy him with his dazzling presence. 9 The Wicked One will come with the power of Satan and perform all kinds of false miracles and wonders, 10 and use every kind of wicked deceit on those who will perish. They will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved. 11 And so God sends the power of error to work in them so that they believe what is false. 12 The result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned. 13 We must thank God at all times for you, friends, you whom the Lord loves. For God chose you as the first to be saved by the Spirit's power to make you his holy people and by your faith in the truth. 14 God called you to this through the Good News we preached to you; he called you to possess your share of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, our friends, stand firm and hold on to those truths which we taught you, both in our preaching and in our letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, 17 encourage you and strengthen you to always do and say what is good.
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