Tuesday, August 22

Isaiah 56:1-8 (ESV)

Salvation for Foreigners

56 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
    and my righteousness be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
    and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
    and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
    “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
    “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose the things that please me
    and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give in my house and within my walls
    a monument and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that shall not be cut off.

6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
8 The Lord God,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”


Justice is a scary thing. It means that there is a conflict of some sort, and that something is at odds with what is generally accepted. This past week we saw a hateful display in Charlottesville, Virginia that conflicts with what our God asks of us in today’s reading from Isaiah. Isaiah 56:3 gives us wisdom in a time like this. I like how The Message paraphrase puts it,

“Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, ‘God put me in second-class. I don’t really belong.’ And make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, ‘I’m damaged goods. I don’t really belong.’”

There is no reason for any human being to think that they are lesser in any way, and conversely, for anyone to think that they are somehow better than another group of people. We have been taught and we know from experience that with this teaching at the core of our lives we will live more peacefully and more aligned with how God wants us to live. Unfortunately, sometimes this social contract is broken and, when it is, we are called to justice. Time and time again, Jesus defends the foreigner, the weak, and the different. Join me in reflecting on those times so that we can continue, in the same fashion, the work Jesus began. Justice is scary, justice is dangerous, but justice is right.


God of Love, give us the courage to defend your name and love all the people of your world, even when it is difficult. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Written by Tucker Good Director of Media and Communications tgood@stjohns-springfield.org