Isaiah 56:1
Thus said the LORD, Keep you judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
LVI.

(1) Thus saith the Lord.Isaiah 56:1-8 form a distinct section, and obviously had an historical starting. point. It has been said (Cheyne, following many other critics) that “the writer of this section presupposes the circumstances of a period long subsequent to the reign of Hessekiah.” It will be seen in the following notes that I cannot altogether accept that statement, and find circumstances in the closing years of Isaiah’s life which may well have given occasion to his teaching here. It obviously does not stand in any close connection with the preceding chapter.

Keep ye judgment—i.e., the righteousness of the law. The general exhortation is specialised in the next verse.

Isaiah 56:1. Thus saith the Lord — This verse, and the rest of this chapter, until Isaiah 56:9, seems to belong to the foregoing prophecy. From the consideration of God’s promises there made to the believing Jews and Gentiles, he here urges them to perform their duty to him. Keep ye judgment and do justice — This phrase elsewhere generally signifies the duties which one man owes to another; but here it seems rather to signify the duties which men owe to God, as it is explained in the following verses. Accordingly, it might with propriety have been rendered, practise righteousness. For my salvation is near to come — That eminent salvation by the Messiah, so largely promised and insisted upon in the foregoing chapters. The Scriptures, it must be observed, often speak of things that are at a great distance as if they were present or at hand, Habakkuk 2:3; James 5:8-9; Revelation 22:20. And my righteousness to be revealed — What in the former clause he called salvation, he here calls righteousness, as being an evident demonstration of God’s righteousness, both in the fulfilment of his promises, and in the punishment of sin, as also in the salvation of sinners, upon just and honourable terms.56:1,2 The Lord tells us what are his expectations of duty from us. Be honest and just in all dealings. Also strictly observe the sabbath day. To have the blessing of God upon employments all the week, make conscience of keeping the sabbath holy. Have nothing to do with sin. Blessed is the man that keeps his hand from all things displeasing to God and hurtful to his own soul. Those who, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, will be found walking in ways of holy obedience.Thus saith the Lord - That is, in view of the fact that the kingdom of God was to come at no distant period. Yahweh states what was necessary to prepare themselves for it, and what was the character which he demanded of those who were disposed to embrace its offers, and who would be admitted to its privileges.

Keep ye judgment - Margin, 'Equity.' Break off your sins, and be holy. A somewhat similar declaration was made by John the Baptist when he announced the coming of the Messiah: 'Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' Matthew 3:2. The general idea is, that it was not only appropriate that the prospect of his coming and his near approach should lead them to a holy life, but it was necessary in order that they might escape his indignation.

My salvation is near to come - It is to be borne in mind that this was regarded as addressed to the Jews in exile in Babylon, and there is probably a primary reference in the words to the deliverance which they were about to experience from their long and painful captivity. But at the same time the language is appropriate to the coming of the kingdom of God under the Messiah, and the whole scope of the passage requires us to understand it of that event. Language similar to this occurs frequently in the New Testament, where the sacred writers seem to have had this passage in their eye (see Matthew 3:2; Luke 21:31; Romans 13:11; compare Isaiah 62:1-11). It is to be regarded, therefore, as having a reference to the future coming of the Messiah - perhaps as designed to describe the series of deliverances which were to close the painful bondage in Babylon, and to bring the people of God to perfect freedom, and to the full fruition of his favor. Though the actual coming of the Messiah at the time of the exile was at a period comparatively remote, yet the commencement of the great work of their deliverance was near at hand. They were soon to be rescued, and this rescue was to be but the first in the train of deliverances that would result in the entire redemption of the people of God, and was to be the public pledge that all that he had promised of the redemption of the world should be certainly effected.

To be revealed - To be made known; to be publicly manifested.

CHAPTER 56

Isa 56:1-12. The Preparation Needed on the Part of Those Who Wish to Be Admitted to the Kingdom of God.

1. judgment—equity. John the Baptist preached similarly a return to righteousness, as needed to prepare men for Messiah's first coming (Lu 3:3, 8-14). So it shall be before the second coming (Mal 4:4-6).

near to come—(Mt 3:2; 4:17), also as to the second coming (Isa 62:10, 11; Lu 21:28, 31; Ro 13:11, 12; Heb 10:25).

righteousness—answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause; therefore it means righteousness which bringeth salvation (Isa 46:13; Ro 3:25, 26).Blessedness of the godly, without any respect of persons, Isaiah 56:1-8. Blind watchmen shall be destroyed, Isaiah 56:9-12.

This verse and the rest of this chapter, until verse 9, seems to belong to the foregoing prophecy. From the consideration of God’s promises made to them he moveth them to perform their duty to him.

Keep ye judgment, and do justice: this phrase elsewhere signifies the duties which one man oweth to another, but here it seems to signify the duties which men owe to God, as it is explained in the following verses.

My salvation; that eminent salvation by the Messiah, so largely promised and insisted upon in the foregoing chapters; for which it behooves you to prepare yourselves, and in which, without this condition, you shall have no share nor benefit.

Is near to come: so the Scripture useth to speak of things which are at a great distance, as if they were present or at hand: see Habakkuk 2:3 Jam 5:8,9 Re 22:20.

My righteousness: the same thing which he now called salvation, and here calleth his righteousness, because it is an evident demonstration of God’s righteousness, as in the fulfilling of his promises, so in the punishment of sin, and in the salvation of sinners upon just and honourable terms.

Thus saith the Lord, keep ye judgment, and do justice,.... Observe the word of the Lord, which comes from the God of judgment, is the best informer of the judgment, and the only rule of faith and practice; and which should be kept in the heart, mind, and memory, be held fast, and abode by; and so likewise all the ordinances of the Lord, which are his statutes and judgments; these should be all of them kept as they were delivered, in faith, from love, and with a view to the glory of God and Christ; all matters of judgment and justice between man and man, whether public or private, should be observed and done; all that you would have men to do to you, do to them; all works of righteousness required by the Lord, though not to be depended upon for justification in his sight, but regarded as fruits and evidences of faith and repentance; for works of righteousness cannot be done but by regenerated persons. The reasons enforcing a regard to these things follow:

for my salvation is near to come; which are either the words of God the Father concerning Christ and his salvation, whom he appointed, called, and sent to effect it; who, when this prophecy was given out, was to come, and was to come as a Saviour, and was near at hand; and whose salvation, as to the efficacy of it, was come, all the Old Testament saints being saved by it; and, as to the impetration of it, was near at hand, he being ready to come, and in a short time, comparatively speaking, did come, and work out this salvation God had resolved upon, chosen his people to, and in which his glory was greatly concerned; and therefore calls it his own: or they are the words of Christ, who is the sole author of spiritual and eternal salvation, and in whom alone it is, and from him alone to be had; and which was near, being performed by himself, published in his Gospel, applied by his Spirit, and enjoyed by his people here and to all eternity:

and my righteousness to be revealed; and which also are either the words of God the Father concerning his faithfulness in the performance of his promise of Christ, and good things by him; concerning his justice, which was glorified in the work of redemption by Christ; or concerning the righteousness of Christ, called his, because he sent him to bring it in, he approves of it, imputes it to his people, and justifies them by it; or they are the words of Christ concerning his own righteousness, which he has wrought out, and brought in, in the room and stead of his people, and for their sakes; and which is revealed, not by the light of nature, nor by the law of Moses, but by the Gospel of Christ, and that from faith to faith, or only to believers. Now these being used as arguments to engage to the keeping and doing judgment and justice, show that the doctrines of salvation by Christ, and justification by his righteousness, are no licentious doctrines.

Thus saith the LORD, {a} Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my {b} righteousness to be revealed.

(a) God shows what he requires of them after he has delivered them: that is, the works of charity by which true faith is declared.

(b) Which I will declare toward you, and pour into your hearts by my Spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1, 2. The exhortation to righteousness is based on the nearness of Jehovah’s salvation (cf. Isaiah 46:13, Isaiah 55:6). justice should be righteousness (as in R.V.), the same word as in the last line of the verse, but in a different sense. In the first case righteousness means conformity to the law of God (cf. Isaiah 58:2), in the second it is, as often, equivalent to salvation. The thought that salvation is near is as characteristic of the later chapters of this book as of chs. 40–55. (see Isaiah 57:14, Isaiah 58:8 ff., Isaiah 59:15 ff., Isaiah 60:1 ff., Isaiah 62:6 &c.), but it is equally prominent in the post-Exilic prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The establishment of the Jews in their own land had not realised the glorious predictions connected with it in 40–55; yet the conviction remained immoveable that the final act of redemption was at hand, and was retarded only by the sin of the people.Verses 1-8. - AN EXHORTATION TO OBSERVE THE LAW, ESPECIALLY THE LAW OF THE SABBATH, COMBINED WITH PROMISES. There was much of the Law which it was impossible to observe during the Captivity. Sacrifice had ceased, the temple was destroyed, almost all the ceremonial law must have been suspended; even the command to do no work on the sabbath day cannot have been kept by a nation of slaves, whose masters would certainly not have permitted them to be idle one day in seven. Still, the spirit of the ordinance might be kept by devoting the day, so far as was possible, to religious observance, as to prayer and to meditation upon holy things. This is now enjoined on the captive Jews, with the promise of a blessing - a blessing in which even the most despised part of the nation, the proselytes and the eunuchs, might participate. Verse 1. - Keep ye judgment, and do justice; rather, keep ye Law, and observe righteousness. The exhortation is general, and has no special bearing on trials or law-courts. It is a call on the Jews, in their captivity, to keep, so far as was possible, the whole Law given on Sinai. My salvation is near to come. The nearer the time of deliverance approaches, the more faithful and exact ought Israel to be in life and conduct. God's "salvation" and his "righteousness" go hand-in-hand. It is as his righteous people, "a holy seed" (Isaiah 6:10), that he is about to vindicate and rescue them. If they are no holier than others, why should he do more for them than for those others? The appeal, to leave their own way and their own thoughts, and yield themselves to God the Redeemer, and to His word, is now urged on the ground of the heaven-wide difference between the ways and thoughts of this God and the despairing thoughts of men (Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 49:24), and their aimless labyrinthine ways. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah: no, heaven is high above the earth; so high are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts." The kı̄ (imo) introduces the undeniable statement of a fact patent to the senses, for the purpose of clearly setting forth, by way of comparison, the relation in which the ways and thoughts of God stand to those of man. There is no necessity to supply כאשׁר after כּי, as Hitzig and Knobel do. It is simply omitted, as in Isaiah 62:5 and Jeremiah 3:20, or like כּן in Proverbs 26:11, etc. On what side the heaven-wide elevation is to be seen, is shown in what follows. They are not so fickle, so unreliable, or so powerless.
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