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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 57 and 58

Isaiah 57

57:1 Israel's Futile Idolatry

The righteous perishes,And no man takes it to heart;Merciful men are taken away,While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace;They shall rest in their beds,Each one walking in his uprightness.
3 "But come here,You sons of the sorceress,You offspring of the adulterer and the harlot! 4 Whom do you ridicule?Against whom do you make a wide mouth And stick out the tongue?Are you not children of transgression,Offspring of falsehood, 5 Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree,Slaying the children in the valleys,Under the clefts of the rocks? 6 Among the smooth stones of the stream Is your portion;They, they, are your lot!Even to them you have poured a drink offering,You have offered a grain offering.Should I receive comfort in these?
7 "On a lofty and high mountain You have set your bed;Even there you went up To offer sacrifice. 8 Also behind the doors and their posts You have set up your remembrance;For you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me,And have gone up to them;You have enlarged your bed And made a covenant with them;You have loved their bed,Where you saw their nudity. 9 You went to the king with ointment,And increased your perfumes;You sent your messengers far off,And even descended to Sheol. 10 You are wearied in the length of your way;Yet you did not say, 'There is no hope.'You have found the life of your hand;Therefore you were not grieved.
11 "And of whom have you been afraid, or feared,That you have lied And not remembered Me,Nor taken it to your heart?Is it not because I have held My peace from of old That you do not fear Me? 12 I will declare your righteousness And your works,For they will not profit you. 13 When you cry out,Let your collection of idols deliver you.But the wind will carry them all away,A breath will take them.But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land,And shall inherit My holy mountain."
14 Healing for the Backslider

And one shall say,"Heap it up! Heap it up!Prepare the way,Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people."
15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:"I dwell in the high and holy place,With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,To revive the spirit of the humble,And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 16 For I will not contend forever,Nor will I always be angry;For the spirit would fail before Me,And the souls which I have made. 17 For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him;I hid and was angry,And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. 18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him;I will also lead him,And restore comforts to him And to his mourners.
19 "I create the fruit of the lips:Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,"Says the LORD,"And I will heal him." 20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea,When it cannot rest,Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
21 "There is no peace,"Says my God, "for the wicked."

Isaiah 58

58:1 Fasting that Pleases God

"Cry aloud, spare not;Lift up your voice like a trumpet;Tell My people their transgression,And the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek Me daily,And delight to know My ways,As a nation that did righteousness,And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;They take delight in approaching God. 3'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen?Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?'
"In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,And exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,And to strike with the fist of wickedness.You will not fast as you do this day,To make your voice heard on high. 5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,A day for a man to afflict his soul?Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?Would you call this a fast,And an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen:To loose the bonds of wickedness,To undo the heavy burdens,To let the oppressed go free,And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;When you see the naked, that you cover him,And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,Your healing shall spring forth speedily,And your righteousness shall go before you;The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
"If you take away the yoke from your midst,The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul,Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you continually,And satisfy your soul in drought,And strengthen your bones;You shall be like a watered garden,And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places;You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,From doing your pleasure on My holy day,And call the Sabbath a delight,The holy day of the LORD honorable,And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,Nor finding your own pleasure,Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.The mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 85

Psalms 85

85:1 Prayer that the LORD Will Restore Favor to the Land

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
LORD, You have been favorable to Your land;You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. 2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people;You have covered all their sin.Selah 3 You have taken away all Your wrath;You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
4 Restore us, O God of our salvation,And cause Your anger toward us to cease. 5 Will You be angry with us forever?Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? 6 Will You not revive us again,That Your people may rejoice in You? 7 Show us Your mercy, LORD,And grant us Your salvation.
8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak,For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints;But let them not turn back to folly. 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,That glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth have met together;Righteousness and peace have kissed. 11 Truth shall spring out of the earth,And righteousness shall look down from heaven. 12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good;And our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before Him,And shall make His footsteps our pathway.

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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