Idolatry Destroys, The Contrite is Comforted (Isaiah 56,57)

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The prophesies of Isa 56:1-66:24 addresses the exiles who still suffer from idolatry, hypocrisy and indifference, after returning from Babylon before the rebuilding of the temple in 520 B.C. These prophesies also guides God's people of all ages to live out the promises of Isa 1:1-55:13, in order to prepare for the salvation and renewal to come.

Isa 56:1 serves as a summary of Isaiah, Isa 1:1-55:13. "Maintain justice and do what is right" echoes the ideals of Isa 1:1-39:8, where God warns of his impending judgment through Assyria. "For my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed" sums up the promises of Isa 40:1-55:13, which are addressed primarily to the exiles in Babylon.

The True People of God receive God's salvation (Isa 56:1-8)

Those who inherit the promise of God for salvation include foreigners and eunuchs, for despite their outward apparent disqualification (Isa 56:3), hold fast to his covenant and his Sabbaths (Isa 56:2, 4-8).

Self-Serving Leaders and Idolatry Destroy the Nation (Isa 56:9-12; 57:1-13)

Self-indulgent false prophets and irresponsible leaders lead God's people astray (Isa 56:9-12). Though the righteous perish, they die in faith and enjoy their eternal reward (Isa 57:1,2; Rev 14:13). When the people gave in to idolatry, they deceived themselves into thinking that their idolatry renewed their strength (Isa 57:3-10), while losing the fear of God in their hearts (Isa 57:11-13).

The High and Holy God Lives with the Contrite and the Lowly (Isa 57:14-21)

In contrast with the threats of judgment for idolatry (Isa 57:3-13), God gives promises of blessing to the lowly and the contrite, creating a spirit of repentance, and bringing comfort, peace and healing (Isa 57:14-21).

Practical Application: When our hearts are contrite and lowly, God revives our spirit and our heart (Isa 57:15).

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