III. PRESERVING JUSTICE AND DOING RIGHTEOUSNESS
FOR PROSPERITY AND JEHOVAH’S ACCEPTANCE
In 56:1-8 we have the matter of preserving justice and doing righteousness for prosperity and Jehovah’s acceptance.
A. Justice Being the Verdict of God’s Judgment
"Thus says Jehovah,/Preserve justice and do righteousness, /For My salvation is about to come/And My righteousness is about to be revealed./Blessed is the man who does this,/And the son of man who takes hold of it,/Who keeps from profaning the Sabbath/And keeps his hand from doing any evil" (vv. 1-2). In its Old Testament usage, the word justice means the verdict of God’s judgment. This justice enables one to be righteous. If Christ had not died on the cross for us, we would have been condemned in the heavenly court. But because Christ died a vicarious death for us, God reckons that we also have died, and then He pronounces the verdict that, instead of being condemned, we are released. This is a matter of justice, and through it we are justified, that is, made righteous.
Verse 1a speaks of preserving justice and doing righteousness. From this we see that we first have justice and then righteousness. Verse 1b goes on to speak of God’s salvation. Justice plus righteousness equals salvation. As the result of Christ’s death on the cross for us, God’s verdict concerning us is the justice which causes us to be justified, to be made righteous. This is God’s salvation coming to us.
B. The Real Meaning of Keeping the Sabbath
In verses 2, 4, and 6, Isaiah speaks of keeping the Sabbath. The real meaning of keeping the Sabbath is to cease from our work, to stop our doing, to get ourselves "fired," in order to enjoy what God has done. To believe in the Lord Jesus is to keep the Sabbath. On the day we were saved, we were fired and replaced with Christ. Hence, that day was a real Sabbath, a day of rest, to us. "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). This is the keeping of the Sabbath. Our whole Christian life should be such a Sabbath rest. This extended Sabbath becomes a feast in which we cease from our doing and are replaced with Christ.
C. The Declaration of the Lord Jehovah,
Who Gathers the Outcasts of Israel
In Isaiah 56:8 we have the declaration of the Lord Jehovah, who gathers the outcasts of Israel. He declares, "Yet will I gather others to Him besides those gathered to Him already." This reveals that God will gather more people to Christ. First, He gathered the Jews, and then He began to gather the Gentiles from such places as Asia Minor and Macedonia. Today He continues to gather people to Christ from throughout the earth.
IV. THE REBUKING OF THE BLIND WATCHMEN
AND THE SELF-SEEKING SHEPHERDS
Chapter fifty-six concludes with Jehovah’s rebuking of the blind watchmen and the self-seeking shepherds (vv. 9-12).
(Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 28, by Witness Lee)