Today: [Isaiah 56] Keeping God’s Judgments, Remembering the Sabbath. In this chapter, Isaiah calls on us to keep the judgments of the Lord and to honor God’s justice. What does that mean to us as New Testament believers? God has not called us to adapt our lives to some stylized pseudo-Jewish culture in order to please Him. Many have done this in spite of repeated warnings by the apostles themselves against adopting Jewish philosophy outside the liberty of Christ. We are called to keep God’s Sabbath and that has nothing to do with a day or the week or how long is a Sabbath Day’s journey. The Sabbath of God is an understanding and embrace of what God has prepared for us in Christ and trusting not in ourselves or religious tradition but in who Jesus is and what He did for us on the cross 2000 years ago.
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[Isa 56:1-12 KJV] 1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation [is] near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 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. 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. 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; 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. 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; 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. 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. 9 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, [yea], all ye beasts in the forest. 10 His watchmen [are] blind: they are all ignorant, they [are] all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 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. 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.
In verse one of chapter 56 Isaiah calls upon us to keep judgment and to do justice because the salvation of the Lord is near and His righteousness is to be revealed. There two ways to look at this verse – one from an Old Testament perspective and for us through the lens of a New Testament paradigm. An Old Testament saint would look at this verse and bring to mind the Torah and the commandments of Moses as the context of keeping the judgments of God. For us we do not look to the adherence of our lives to Jewish law or covenant. As New Testament believers the only way to properly value the Old Testament is according to Galatians 3:24:
[Gal 3:24 KJV] 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The primary purpose of the law is to act as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. In other words the law is not an end in itself. Keeping the law for us is not the maintenance of a moral or religious code but rather coming to Christ and accepting the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross as satisfying the statutes of justice recorded in the courts of heaven. We keep the judgments of God by looking to the cross as Moses commanded those stricken by vipers in Numbers 21:9 to look to the brazen serpent and live. We look to the cross and live, not mere survival but the “zoe” or God kind of life and life more abundantly. What of the law? Is it done away with? No, we don’t dispense with the law, we come to Jesus and see Him as He is and become like Him – thus EMBODYING the law in our character by virtue of the transforming nature of who Jesus is resident on the inside of Him. Thus John the Beloved declared:
[1Jo 3:2 KJV] 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Isaiah declared that we keep justice and do His judgments because His salvation is near. Salvation for us is not a political figure or a national deliverer as the Jews to this day erroneously pine for. Our Salvation is a Person and His name is Jesus. Jesus, the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 1:30 is our wisdom, righteousness and sanctification. Religious lifestyle or culture has no value to us if we are found in Christ and Christ is found in us. From the reality of the indwelling Christ we do not conform to cultural Christianity, rather we are culture shapers, establishing and expressing the character, nature, power and grace of Christ as lights in a darkened world – manifesting who we are as sons of God holding forth the word of life to a lost and dying world.
In verse 3 Isaiah presages the inclusion of the Gentiles into the covenant of God by saying that the stranger – the non-Jew who accepts Christ will not say that he is separated from the people of God. How can this be? Paul explains in Galatians 3:16 that the covenant that God ratified with Abraham was not just with God and Abraham but with God, Abraham and Christ standing in our place as the smoking lamp and burning furnace that passed between the pieces of the sacrifice in Gen. 15:
[Gal 3:16 KJV] 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Abraham’s descendants received the promise through Abraham. You and I receive the blessings of Abraham through Christ. Never let anyone exclude you from the promises of God to Abraham. The promises of God in Christ are not inferior in respect to temporal blessings to Abraham’s blessings to his natural descendants. This is strongly taught by mainstream Christian theology but cannot be validated in the scriptures which even those who believe in God ordained prosperity have failed to establish in the body of their work in the “faith movement”.
Verses 4 and 6 speak of the mandate of keeping the Sabbath. What is the obligation of a believer regarding the Sabbath? The Sabbath is not and never was Sunday. The Sabbath in antiquity and in modern Judaism is Saturday. That is not the day that the New Testament believers observed. 1 Cor. 16:2 tells us that the early believers came together not on the 7th day but upon the 1st day of the week. In the Old Covenant, we are given the seventh day of God’s rest and in the New Covenant we are given the 1st day of the week. In fact, the early church did not have the day off. They would come together in the early hours of the morning and then go to their jobs for 12 to 18 hours and then return in the evening to pray and worship into the late hours of the night. The point of what Isaiah is saying has nothing to do with keeping a day but with CEASING FROM OUR OWN LABORS as the basis of gaining righteousness in God. Our righteousness is not based upon who we are or what we have done but who Jesus is and what He did for us 2000 years ago. The writer of Hebrews clarified the deeper meaning of the Sabbath in Hebrews 4:
[Heb 4:1-6 KJV] 1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it]. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
You can see that God’s purpose is to bring us to rest – ceasing from our own labors. You cannot be good enough for God. You cannot satisfy God by works of sacrifice or acts of ritual significance in Christian culture. You enter into rest when you get down in your soul the reality that God accepts you and answers your prayer not on any other basis than that of the shed blood of Calvary and who Jesus is on the inside of you through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is the rest and the Sabbath of God that we are to hold sacred and holy, refusing to be seduced by a performance based mentality as though we can convince God or move God by acts of piety or religiosity according to our own human standards.
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