Thus said the LORD, Keep you judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
Foreign converts are commended for their observance of the sabbath, and promised an appropriate reward. The day was more strictly observed during the Babylonian and Persian periods (Jeremiah 17:19-27; Ezekiel 20:11-21; Ezekiel 22:8, 26; Nehemiah 13:15-22; cf. 2 Kings 11:11-16 with 1 Macc. 2:32-38). Its estimation rose with the estimation of prayer (Cheyne).
I. THE DUTY OF OBEDIENCE. The Law is "the objective rule of life, the Law of Jehovah." Or, with others, "equity, justice." And the "practice of righteousness" is ever a necessity with him. The more so as every serious crisis draws on. My salvation is near - the kingdom of heaven is at hand. A crisis means a time of sifting and separation. "God's salvation is not indiscriminate. And the grounds on which he distinguishes his people from his enemies are not external, but internal. It is the Israel within Israel, the spiritual circumcision, the holy seed, that he acknowledges, vindicates, rescues, glorifies" (Cheyne).
II. SABBATH-KEEPING AS AN EXPRESSION OF OBEDIENCE. How significant the sabbath in the institutions of Judaism! True, the seventh day belonged also to Babylonian religion, but we know its beauty and its blessing through the Jews. It was a sign of the great standing covenant between God and the nation (Exodus 31:13-17). By this the Jews were marked as a nation. Narrow notions, Puritan superstitions, have gathered about the sabbath; still, the idea of it is very beautiful. Ewald brings it under the idea of sacrifice of time. It is the representative of the duties of the first table (Ezekiel 20:11-21). But mere sabbath-keeping avails not without the honest heart and the upright life - the man must "keep his hand from evil."
III. THE BLESSINGS OF OBEDIENCE UNIVERSAL. The prophet would remove a misunderstanding. The beatitude is universally applicable to those who keep God's commandments. The foreigner might be anxious about his position in the spiritual commonwealth. For there were exclusive injunctions directed against him (Deuteronomy 23:4-7). During the Captivity probably an exclusive spirit was growing; it may be observed in the restored exiles (Nehemiah 13.). They are here assured that they shall be admitted to the spiritual commonwealth on an equal footing with the Jews. National barriers are broken down before the new expansive spirit of love. There was also a law against eunuchs (Deuteronomy 23:2). But this disability is also to be removed. This class of men may stand for the outcast and degraded in general. They are to be admitted to communion, and are to receive some "trophy and monument" (1 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 18:18) in the temple itself - provided they have been faithful to the commands and covenant of Jehovah. Probably a spiritual and everlasting memorial is meant (cf. Revelation 3:12; Matthew 26:13). Then the foreign proselytes who should
(1) join them to the Lord,
(2) with intent to serve him,
(3) and who should love the Name of the Lord,
(4) who should be his servants,
(5) who should keep his sabbaths,
(6) and take hold of his covenant, were to be admitted to all the privileges of the chosen people.
The same terms of salvation were to be applicable to all. In 1 Kings 8:41-43 Solomon prays that God should do "according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for." In Psalm 135:19, 20 the proselytes are called to bless Jehovah, after the house of Israel, of Aaron, of Levi.
IV. THE BLESSINGS OF THE HOUSE OF PRAYER. All shall be brought to God's holy mountain - shall be admitted to the one sacred fellowship. They shall be made joyful by the revelation of the Shechinah - the presence of the Eternal in his power and mercy. Their offerings (those of the proselytes) shall be accepted on his altar. There should be no invidious distinctions. The house should be a "house of prayer to all peoples" (cf. Matthew 21:13). Moreover, other nations, not now of Israel, would be united to the one spiritual stock. The exiles in distant lands would be gathered; also other Gentiles of whom the proselytes are the firstfruits - "other sheep not of this flock" (John 10:16) - and they will become fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). The race - "on a level with respect to moral character, all having sinned and come short of the glory of God - is on a level with respect to redemption; the same Saviour died for all, the same Spirit is ready to sanctify all. The wide world may be saved, and there is not one of the human race so degraded in human estimation by rank, or colour, or ignorance, who may not be admitted to the same heaven with Abraham and the prophets, and whose prayers and praises may not be as acceptable to God as those of the most magnificent monarch who ever wore a crown." - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.