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Isaiah 56 The Voice (VOICE)

The triumph of God over Israel’s enemies is certain. Filled with joy and expectation, God’s covenant people leave behind a strange country and begin the long, dangerous journey back to the promised land. But instead of fear and trepidation at the potential perils ahead, they are overwhelmed with a sense of peace and joy. Instead of holding dangers around every turn, the land and creation itself join in the celebration to welcome the exiles home. There is no need to worry about long, hard climbs or treacherous descents, for the mountains and the hills cheer them on. There’s no need to fret about shade from the sun’s blazing heat, for majestic trees grow up to cast their long, cooling shadows across the desert’s arid land. The prophet’s vision of the journey home is nearly complete.

56 Eternal One: Take care that you do what is right and fair,
        because before you know it, I will come to save you;
    Soon you will see how I rescue.
    God’s favor rests on those who attend to justice,
        who devote themselves to doing what is right,
    Who keep the Sabbath and don’t disregard or belittle it,
        who keep from doing what is wrong: destructive, deceitful, or violent.

No stranger who has put trust in the Eternal should ever say,
    I don’t count. I’m not part of Eternal’s chosen people.”
And no eunuch should ever say,
    “I am all dried up, worthless and empty.”
For this is what the Eternal has to say:

Eternal One: The eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
        make good choices, and follow the terms of My covenant
        will blossom with My blessing.
    I will give them, within My house, an enduring memorial
        and a name better than if they had sons and daughters—
    A name that will never be forgotten and will continue to inspire
        and encourage forever.
    And of those strangers who are not among the chosen people Israel
        yet have bound themselves to the Eternal,
    Attend to God, and love all that the Eternal is and does;
        if they serve Him, keep the Sabbath, make good choices, and cling to the terms of the covenant,
    I will bring them into My holy mountain where no foreigner is allowed
        and give them a joyful welcome within My house of prayer.
    Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will find acceptance on My altar
        because My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.[a]

These words must have come as a surprise to the Hebrews. They were the called-out ones and had been commanded to keep themselves separate from their pagan neighbors. Now they hear these words of inclusion. They are told it doesn’t matter who they are or where they’ve come from or what “imperfections” they might have. Any who have bound themselves to Israel’s God—even if they’re not Israel, even if they are not “whole”—belong to Him and will enjoy all the wonders that He has in store for them. One day it will be clear that they are a sign of God’s goodness and mercy, that God’s justice is on display through their lives. They are to live as the light of God to the neighboring countries.

And the One who brings all Israel together, the Lord, the Eternal, declares:

Eternal One: I am not done yet. I will still gather more to this community.

Bring in the ravenous, vicious beasts from forests and fields;
    bring them in to pillage Jerusalem to rip and eat!
10 Those who should be guarding and directing the people
    are blind and ignorant at best.
They are no better than hounds who can’t be bothered to bark at trouble;
    they lie around, lost in their dreams, loving their sleep.
11 But these dogs sure love to eat.
    They can’t get enough, greedily devouring Judah.
They are shepherds with no understanding,
    guides with no sense of direction.
So they’ve all scattered, each out for himself,
    trying to figure out how best to gain advantage.
12 “Come on!” they say, “I’ll get the wine; we’ll get our fill of booze.
    Day after day, it just keeps getting better!”[b]

Footnotes:

  1. 56:7 Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46
  2. 56:12 Greek manuscripts omit this verse.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Isaiah 56 New International Version (NIV)

Salvation for Others

56 This is what the Lord says:

“Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
Blessed is the one who does this—
    the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”

Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
    “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
    “I am only a dry tree.”

For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations.
The Sovereign Lord declares—
    he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
    besides those already gathered.”

God’s Accusation Against the Wicked

Come, all you beasts of the field,
    come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!
10 Israel’s watchmen are blind,
    they all lack knowledge;
they are all mute dogs,
    they cannot bark;
they lie around and dream,
    they love to sleep.
11 They are dogs with mighty appetites;
    they never have enough.
They are shepherds who lack understanding;
    they all turn to their own way,
    they seek their own gain.
12 “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!
    Let us drink our fill of beer!
And tomorrow will be like today,
    or even far better.”

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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