SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
56:1 This is what the Lord says,
“Promote justice! Do what is right!
For I am ready to deliver you;
I am ready to vindicate you openly.
2 The people who do this will be blessed,
the people who commit themselves to obedience,
who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,
who refrain from doing anything that is wrong.
3 No foreigner who becomes a follower of the Lord should say,
‘The Lord will certainly exclude me from his people.’
The eunuch should not say,
‘Look, I am like a dried-up tree.’”
4 For this is what the Lord says:
“For the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths
and choose what pleases me
and are faithful to my covenant,
5 I will set up within my temple and my walls a monument
that will be better than sons and daughters.
I will set up a permanent monument for them that will remain.
6 As for foreigners who become followers of the Lord and serve him,
who love the name of the Lord and want to be his servants—
all who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,
and who are faithful to my covenant—
7 I will bring them to my holy mountain;
I will make them happy in the temple where people pray to me.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar,
for my temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray.”
8 The Sovereign Lord says this,
the one who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
“I will still gather them up.”
9 All you wild animals in the fields, come and devour,
all you wild animals in the forest!
10 All their watchmen are blind,
they are unaware.
All of them are like mute dogs,
unable to bark.
They pant, lie down,
and love to snooze.
11 The dogs have big appetites;
they are never full.
They are shepherds who have no understanding;
they all go their own way,
each one looking for monetary gain.
12 Each one says,
“Come on, I’ll get some wine!
Let’s guzzle some beer!
Tomorrow will be just like today!
We’ll have everything we want!”
57:1 The godly perish,
but no one cares.
Honest people disappear,
when no one minds
that the godly disappear because of evil.
2 Those who live uprightly enter a place of peace;
they rest on their beds.
3 “But approach, you sons of omen readers,
you offspring of adulteresses and prostitutes!
4 At whom are you laughing?
At whom are you opening your mouth
and sticking out your tongue?
You are the children of rebels,
the offspring of liars,
5 you who inflame your lusts among the oaks and under every green tree,
who slaughter children near the streams under the rocky overhangs.
6 Among the smooth stones of the stream are the idols you love;
they, they are the object of your devotion.
You pour out liquid offerings to them,
you make an offering.
Because of these things how can I relent from judgment?
7 On every high, elevated hill you prepare your bed;
you go up there to offer sacrifices.
8 Behind the door and doorpost you put your symbols.
Indeed, you depart from me and go up
and invite them into bed with you.
You purchase favors from them;
you love their bed,
and gaze longingly on their naked bodies.
9 You take olive oil as tribute to your king,
along with many perfumes.
You send your messengers to a distant place;
you go all the way to Sheol.
10 Because of the long distance you must travel, you get tired,
but you do not say, ‘I give up.’
You get renewed energy,
so you don’t collapse.
11 Whom are you worried about?
Whom do you fear, that you would act so deceitfully
and not remember me
or think about me?
Because I have been silent for so long,
you are not afraid of me.
12 I will denounce your so-called righteousness and your deeds,
but they will not help you.
13 When you cry out for help, let your idols help you!
The wind blows them all away,
a breeze carries them away.
But the one who looks to me for help will inherit the land
and will have access to my holy mountain.”
14 He says,
“Build it! Build it! Clear a way!
Remove all the obstacles out of the way of my people!”
15 For this is what the high and exalted one says,
the one who rules forever, whose name is holy:
“I dwell in an exalted and holy place,
but also with the discouraged and humiliated,
in order to cheer up the humiliated
and to encourage the discouraged.
16 For I will not be hostile forever
or perpetually angry,
for then man’s spirit would grow faint before me,
the life-giving breath I created.
17 I was angry because of their sinful greed;
I attacked them and angrily rejected them,
yet they remained disobedient and stubborn.
18 I have seen their behavior,
but I will heal them. I will lead them,
and I will provide comfort to them and those who mourn with them.
19 I am the one who gives them reason to celebrate.
Complete prosperity is available both to those who are far away and those who are nearby,”
says the Lord, “and I will heal them.
20 But the wicked are like a surging sea
that is unable to be quiet;
its waves toss up mud and sand.
21 There will be no prosperity,” says my God, “for the wicked.”