Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 2 Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil.
In the early part of the book of Isaiah he offers warning after warning to God’s people to turn from their wicked ways. They mostly ignore him. So God withdraws protection from the Israelites who are defeated by the Babylonians and sent into exile in Babylon. A small remnant of people is left in Jerusalem but the kingdom of Israel is effectively over.
Later in Isaiah we see the tone shift from warning – to promise of restoration. These verses above are a good example. Yes the people have experienced terrible consequences for their unfaithfulness but God has not forgotten them and will restore their kingdom.
But they will need to repent of their evil ways.
There are a couple of things mentioned specifically in these verses. First “maintain justice” means they have to stop cheating people, taking bribes, and ignoring those in need. Second is keeping the Sabbath. There is also the more general “refrains from doing any evil”, but justice and Sabbath are the two main issues mentioned here. I find that really interesting.
The people of God had worshipped idols, sought out sorcerers for guidance, sacrificed their own children, murdered other innocent people – but justice and Sabbath are the things highlighted in the passage? Really? That’s not an accident friends. Justice and Sabbath are a really big deal to God. More so than most of us imagine.
Think about it…