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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 57 and 58

Isaiah 57

The righteous perish,and no one ponders it in his heart;devout men are taken away,and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. 2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace;they find rest as they lie in death.
3 "But you — come here, you sons of a sorceress,you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! 4 Whom are you mocking?At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue?Are you not a brood of rebels,the offspring of liars? 5 You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree;you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags. 6[The idols] among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;they, they are your lot.Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings.In the light of these things, should I relent? 7 You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;there you went up to offer your sacrifices. 8 Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols.Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,you climbed into it and opened it wide;you made a pact with those whose beds you love,and you looked on their nakedness. 9 You went to Molech with olive oil and increased your perfumes.You sent your ambassadors far away;you descended to the grave itself! 10 You were wearied by all your ways,but you would not say, 'It is hopeless.'You found renewal of your strength,and so you did not faint.
11 "Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me,and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts?Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? 12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,and they will not benefit you. 13 When you cry out for help,let your collection [of idols] save you!The wind will carry all of them off,a mere breath will blow them away.But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain."
14 And it will be said:
"Build up, build up, prepare the road!Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people." 15 For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy:"I live in a high and holy place,but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 I will not accuse forever,nor will I always be angry,for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me — the breath of man that I have created. 17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;I punished him, and hid my face in anger,yet he kept on in his willful ways. 18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;I will guide him and restore comfort to him, 19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.Peace, peace, to those far and near,"says the LORD. "And I will heal them." 20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,which cannot rest,whose waves cast up mire and mud. 21 "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked."

Isaiah 58

"Shout it aloud, do not hold back.Raise your voice like a trumpet.Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out;they seem eager to know my ways,as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3'Why have we fasted,' they say,'and you have not seen it?Why have we humbled ourselves,and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,and in striking each other with wicked fists.You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,only a day for a man to humble himself?Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?Is that what you call a fast,a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him,and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,and your healing will quickly appear;then your righteousness will go before you,and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,then your light will rise in the darkness,and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always;he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.You will be like a well-watered garden,like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable,and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 85

Psalms 85

85:1 For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You showed favor to your land, O LORD;you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.Selah 3 You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
4 Restore us again, O God our Savior,and put away your displeasure toward us. 5 Will you be angry with us forever?Will you prolong your anger through all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again,that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD,and grant us your salvation.
8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say;he promises peace to his people, his saints — but let them not return to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together;righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,and righteousness looks down from heaven. 12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,and our land will yield its harvest. 13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

Bible Background



There is a consistent theme throughout the Bible concerning "land." Sometimes the word "earth" is used. Abraham was promised that he would own all the land he could see. (Genesis 13) Thus, the land of Israel is also known as "The Promised Land." Stephen in Acts 7 tells us that even now Abraham has not yet received his inheritance: "not even a foot of ground."

Israel in the wilderness were not allowed to enter "the land" for forty years because of their faithlessness. They were also told that once they entered the land, that if they disobeyed, they would be scattered from the land. (Deuteronomy 28) Many of the prophets promise a time when Israel will be regathered to its land. (Ezekiel 36 & 37, and Jeremiah 33 are examples.)

Psalm 37 repeats 4 times that the meek, the righteous, the blessed, those who turn from evil to do good, will inherit the land forever. Jesus repeats this in the beatitudes in Matthew 5:5 - "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

Zechariah makes a promise concerning the earth: The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:9) Revelation 5 agrees with Zechariah:

And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."


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