Isaiah 56 – A promise of hope for the socially shunned, the unmarried, and the disliked

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The Lame Man is Healed by Saints Peter and John by: Gaspard Poussin (1615-1675)

“Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.’  And let not any eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree’” [Is.56:3].

Have you ever been rejected – had it expressed that you just didn’t fit in – told to go away – or you began to believe that you are too old, have no marriage partner, or lacked talent and skill?  God has good news for us; if we decide to join ourselves to the Lord, he accepts us!

Life is filled with cliques, and special clubs that only qualified members can join.  Some will query us to find if we are in “Who’s Who” – others want to see our genetic credentials – are we descendants of the Mayflower Puritans – are we physically pleasant to look at – do a lot of people view us as leaders – can we play sports and bark statistics?

We may even possess a talent or two and desire to share, but because we don’t have “sex appeal,” we are ignored.

There have been famous people who overcame being socially awkward by use of worldly tactics.  Napoleon and Hitler used education, politics and oratory to defend their place in the world.  It appeared to work for a while, but then their detractors mounted a “whisper campaign” and left these fellows to utilize the alternative of abuse of power.  However, intimidation of people will only force them farther from you, and then bitterness sets in with the desire for revenge.

Other social misfits used comedy and knowledge to overcome civic bias, only to succumb to the charge that they are “clowns – not to be taken seriously,” or that they are “know-it-alls” – smug irritants.

Other social outcastes will faun the successful – become toads for the socially acceptable, or they will melt away into quiet complacency and hide themselves from public view in an effort to protect the last vestige of their pride.

Psychologists called this behavior of acceptability, “retention toward the mean.”  In other words the average height, weight, color, and physique, becomes the standard of acceptability – and subjects will move toward like subjects, and away from unlike subject.  For example, Negro people will congregate with Negros, Hispanics with Hispanics, Chinese with Chinese, European whites with European whites – youth with youth, rich with rich, and so on.  This is where mimicking of behaviors become social phenomenas, or social trends.

I remember when everyone was considered “in,” if they walked around with a plastic bottle of water and told everyone else that they were “hydrating.”  I would explain to them that it was unnecessary to do this in normal environments, since the milk, coffee, soda etc. that they drank, equipped them with more than enough water saturation.  Well, I was rebuffed every time and made to feel like a party pooper.  As the fad increased, it displayed some bad effects.  Some people indulged so much water that they were fainting, because they had diluted their blood chemistry ions.  The fad passed away quietly, and I never received one apology.  Instead of being considered a wise thinker, I was still considered a stinker!

DOING GOOD:

In 3John, there was a Bishop Diotrephes, whose name meant, “nurtured by Zeus.”  Unfortunately, he lived up to his name, when he could have been nurtured by the Holy Spirit.  Diotrephes set the trends of social respectability.  Everyone he pronounced as being unacceptable, was refused fellowship and gifts of support.  The few faithful and loving Christians that opposed him were “put out of the Church” [3Jn.10].  John’s advice to the socially unacceptable was to do good;

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.  Anyone who does what is good is from God.  Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God”

[3Jn.11].

I ask you; “Does God accept what is good?”

GOD NOTICES FAITHFUL BEHAVIOR:

In Rev.2, the Church of Smyrna had a clique of rich people who decide that the poor were not followers of Christ the Messiah.  Yet, Jesus Christ noticed this and encourages those who had joined themselves to his Church.  The scripture has it;

“I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich!  I know the slander of those who say they are Jews [the true followers of Messiah] and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan”

[Rev.2:9].

The advice of Christ to this group of unwanted Christians was to not be afraid of suffering prison, and general persecution.  Jesus promises them;

“Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life”

[Rev.2:10].

I ask you; “After all is said and done, whose opinion matters?”

 

THE REMEDY FOR THE SOCIALLY UNACCEPTABLE: 

God gives every person free will, a beautiful computer called a mind, and he grants common sense, and the ability to reason – via facts and understanding.  If we neglect using or developing these faculties, we become no better than the beasts that have only natural instincts – and we will follow social trends into every stupid behavior and sin.  If we use them properly, and try to give away – freely – what we receive – we may be shunned and discredited as trouble or bogus.

God encourages those who he considers faithful, and who have joined themselves to him, in their hearts;

“This is what the Lord says: Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.  Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps my Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing evil”

[Is.56:1-2].

Those that have joined themselves to God, in Christ Jesus, are to continue justly, and do what is proper in God’s eyes.  He encourages us because his appearance is at hand, and he wants to find us doing good when he comes for us.  For who is the wise and trusting steward – will not his master give him acclaim if he comes back and finds him doing good? [Mt.12:35-48]

EXEGETING THIS VERSE OF INSTRUCTION:

The word “righteousness” in the Hebrew is ‘tsedaqah’, is interpreted as, justice.  It is first found in Gen.15:6 and late Gen.30:33, in respect to Abraham’s personal heart felt belief in God’s promise, and in Jacob’s honesty of desire [not his behavior].  The point: regardless of what others are doing and believe, the one who has joined himself to the LORD will continue to do what is just, and that desire starts in the heart, but it came from the mind f God.

The servant of the LORD will keep God’s Sabbath.  As Christians we do not keep Saturday only as the legal Sabbath of God, or interpret Sunday as the Sabbath, but we keep everyday as God’s Sabbath [Heb.4:1-11].   Its keeping is not just a day of fasting and of personal debasement, but every day for maintaining justice – as was defined and expanding in Is.58.  The word “Sabbath” is transliterated from the Hebrew and literally means, cessation or fluidly to rest.  We are to stop striving to get God’s attention and simply do what he would do – everyday!

The word “desecrate” in the NIV is translated “polluting” in the KJV.  The Hebrew word is, ‘chalal’ rendered, to pierce or pollute.  Wilsons Old Testament Word Studies describes this word as, “to make common or unclean that which is sacred, holy, or dignified; to apply anything to a use, for which is it is not designed.

To expand this idea, consider a soup spoon.  If it was used for scraping up dried chicken manure off a coop floor, it would then be polluted.  Another example would be wearing a tuxedo while repairing an automobile.  The result would be that the tux is rendered useless for its intended use.  Therefore, desecrating or polluting God’s Sabbath is in effect, to use it or keep it in such a way that it is rendered unfit – even polluted.

Isaiah chapter 58 explains how it may be kept from being polluted. Do what is just, don’t quarrel, look to help your neighbor, blessed the poor and starving, and do not turn away from your relatives when in they are in trouble.  Therefore every day that is lived, by a person who has joined himself to God, is kept as the personal Sabbath day of God – holy – unpolluted.

EXPANDING THE COMMAND OF GOD:

Here is a thought for introspection; if we wear common clothing in our appearance before God – communally – when we own formal attire – are we polluting God’s Sabbath service by making it a common meeting?  Is this so, if we bring food or drink – gumdrops and chewing gum – into God’s chamber of devotion?  Can we pollute the fellowship and devotion of joy by invocating conversation inappropriate for the celebration of God?   Is the communal service for Jesus Christ less worthy than the Old Testament service for Yehovah?

Here is the truth to be understood.  When we do good in a polluted society, some will take up offense against us and persecute us.  But a person, who has joined himself to the LORD, continues to do what pleases God, regardless of what the social standard is, or what the clique demands is right.  The true disciple of Christ will do what is right even if he is ignore – lambasted or thrown him from the community.

THE REASON GOD DESIRES THE UNDESIREABLE:

God in Christ enjoys those who have decided to join themselves to him in love and honor; and especially under discrediting circumstances, or persecution.

The word “join” is ‘lava’ in the Hebrew, and means; to be joined, connected together in various senses; to wreathe or infold itself.  This word is related to ‘levi,’ from which the word “Levite” comes.  This word is viewed in its fulness of meaning through the scripture;

“‘Now at last my husband will become attached [joined – ‘lava’] to me, because I have born him three sons.’ So he was named Levi”

[Gen.29:34].

Here we see the desire of Leah for her husband Jacob, and after three successful male birthings [three is a mystical number for God] he would become joined in heart with her.  Hence, in later years, the Levites were joined to God by their full devotion to him, over and against their own kin [Lev.32:27-29; Deut.13:6-11; and of similar import: Num.25:6-13].

Jesus used a similar reasoning;

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple”

[Lk.14:26].

DIGGING DEEPER: 

Firstly, the promise that God made in Is.56 was specifically directed at foreigners and eunuchs [vs.3-4]

The word “foreigner” in the NIV is translated as “son of a stranger” in the KJV.  The literal received text is, “son of the foreigner.”  The Hebrew word for “son” of” is ‘ben’ meaning the genetic offspring of; and the word “foreigner” in the Hebrew is ‘nekar’ [see Gen.35:2] – meaning, one marked a stranger; to behave strangely; strangeness of customs, land or people.  It has a very closely related Hebrew word, ‘nokri’ found in Gen.17:12 and Deut.15:3 which means, children of a stranger.

The idea that is being expressed is that the person is not someone from the other side of the city or just over the mountain, but someone whose children have never known us or we them.  It’s the difference between a stranger from Texas, who he has similar language and customs, as opposed to a stranger from Pakistan – who has a totally different language, customs and clothing.  Hence do not let a person who wants to be permanently joined to Jesus Christ say, “The Lord will toss me from his people and presence” – even if he is absolutely alien to the sons of Abraham, or for that matter, members of a particular church.

Oddly, the KJV and the NIV do not add the word “evil” found in the original textYet the literal received text is written; “Let not a stranger say an evil…”  For anyone to pronounce that God would reject a sincere admirer or seeker after God – based upon common customs and language – is evil speech against God.

Abraham had a custom that was evil, in that he would lie about his relationship with his wife in order to save his own neck.  This custom was NOT acceptable to God, yet Yehovah did not refused Abraham’s desire of joining or walking with God.  Instead, Yehovah reproved Abraham through a pagan – the king of Gerar, Ambimelech [Gen.20:9-13].   Others may have polluting customs that they refuse to change when they have been taught better.  God will reject them for their lack to join with him.  “Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” [Amos 3:3] The point, if we have the desire to permanently join ourselves to God, he will not refuse us because of being socially unacceptable or ignorant.  In both cases our Father in Heaven will affect a change in us through rebuke, discipline or hardship.

Secondly, the promise of Is.56 was also presented to those referred to as, “eunuchs.”  Most English language people would understand this to mean a man or a woman, who has had their reproductive organs removed physically [castration or hysterectomy].  However, the Hebrew word ‘saris’ is more comprehensive than the standard understanding.  The Hebrew word ‘saris’ is interpreted as: an officer [appointed steward]; a dedicated individual; dedication to service; someone apart from family; cutoff from family, work or ministry.

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Note: The cutting off a person from Israel, who was castrated partially or fully, or was mutilated, is to be found in Duet.23:1. At first, one thinks this cruel and unnecessary, but the prohibition was probably aimed at ritual pagan genital mutilations – as are witnessed today in Africa and the Middle East.  The initiation is usually dedicated to a demigod – hence, an initiate becomes a worker of iniquity.

I do not have time here to explain the full meaning of pagan sexuality and rituals found in Persia, India, and Africa, but a coming of age ritual found in the Bushmen-Hottentot, in the area of Southwest Africa called the Khoisan region, or within modern Namibia, is a good example.  Their men’s sexual mutilation ritual cuts off one of the testis at puberty – age 12 to 13.   No one is sure why they do this, but it is considered ritual magic and defaces the organ that God gave to man for procreation and renewal of life, and probably accounts for the tribe’s low birth rate.  This would have been considered a great affront to Yehovah, as would a sex-change today, since it is the principle of Satan to obstruct, misuse, or profane sexual regeneration in man [see: “given up;” “refused to retain;” and  “Although they knew” – Rom.1:18-32]

Modern anthropologists, biologists and sociologists, refuse much in the way of explaining the Hottentots.  Information is scant.  However, in my opinion, the Hottentot tribe is a remnant of inter-species breading between fallen angels and tribal women.  This explanation is evidenced by; deliberate science data deprivation and extreme irregular body proportions and disfigurements.  Other tribes will not intermarry with them.  The women have breasts far to the chest’s sides – almost under the arms – and very extremely large buttocks – so much so that they appear ostrich like.  Has God refused them recognition as human – as he did the Philistines and the Anakites?

In light of the LGBT crowd, in Rom.1:18-32, that he “gave them up” [Rom.1:26; 28] – allowed them to sin without aid or warning from the Holy Spirit – and it is the Holy Spirit that goes about convicting the world of sin, righteousness and the judgment to come [Jn16:7-11].

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The Greek word ‘eunouchos’, and its verb, was used by Jesus in Mt.19:12 and was metaphorically inferred to by Paul, in 1Cor.7:7-8, and is translated as “eunuch.”   However Paul  gave it a broader meaning and linked it with marriage and free will decisions.  In fact, it was  Jesus who defined the meaning;

“For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage [made themselves eunuchs – KJV], because of the kingdom of heaven”

[Mt.19:12].

Here you can easily deduct that Jesus is stating clearly that a eunuch is someone who would not marry, because he/she has malfunctioning or missing reproductive organs, or he/she choose not to be encumbered with spouse and children for God’s sake.  Here can been viewed the traditional Christian churches modus for ordaining unmarried priests and nuns – they choose to be in total service to Christ.

The priests of traditional Churches [Roman, Russian, Greek, Coptic and Maronite] would be considered eunuchs by choice.  John De Brine of Song Time, Inc, is a devoted and celebrated Christian leader who chose to not marry.  Pastor De Brine as with the priests, did so to better serve God

Paul expresses in similar vein, when he writes;

“Now to the unmarried and widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am” [1Cor.7:8].

The promise of God – found in Is.56:1-8 – is assured to those who feel or are told by others that they are not welcome in the house of God – to the odd stranger, the odd skinned, the odd speaking, the exceptionally tall or midgets, as well as those who are hermaphrodites, genetically or surgically neutered male or female, or the unmarried out of service to God, or because of the death of a spouse or because of undesired divorce.

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Note:  Because of modern ethics and medical science, surgeons can physically change the outer sexual appearance of a male to look like a female, and visa-versa.  This is called trans-gender transformation.  This immoral effort to change the sexual characteristics in spite of God’s natural genetic differentiation – manifested by XX or XY chromosomes – is a direct affront to the creation of God and his ordained will.  This behavior to dress and act like the opposite sex, would fall under the prohibition set by God and would reflect a desire for God’s wrath, rather than his blessing.

As expressed by scripture God has given them up – meaning he is not working with them through his Holy Spirit to resolve their sin.  Yet, if anyone in this status “comes to their senses” [Lk.15:17-20] and repents, he/she will be accepted by God, even if they are seen as a social outcast by others.

HOWEVER, anyone who goes the whole route and makes a permanent disfigurement of the body of man – that has been made in the image of God – may have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, and would fall under the scripture that dealt with angelic host that “left their first estate” [Jude 6].

At least, this is my opinion, concerning loss of forgiveness for the act of trans-gender transformations, but the question is doctrinally and theologically open.  I cannot find a way to Biblically exegete how a person can repent of this form of abomination.

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FINDING THE REFERENCE IN CHRIST:

It is easy for the child of a sociably accepted pastor, deacon, or successful business man to ask for pulpit time, or the chance to teach a Sunday-school class.  After all, everyone knows this youth’s father, and they are purported to, “be somebody.”  But a child of a “foreigner” [one whose father is not known], will come under great scrutiny; and if his presence and speech is not acceptable, the leaders followed by the crowd of sycophants will start the bullying, carping and unfounded prejudice – all to get the person in a humiliated estate or force him or her to leave.

Jesus knew all about this.  The Jewish leadership understood well that Joseph and Mary came from the tribe of Judah and had lineage to David, but it was equally true that they understood that Joseph was NOT his biological father.  Hence, Jesus was considered a stranger, since he was the “child of a stranger,” a ‘ben nekar’ or a ‘nokri!

And to make matters worse, Jesus had decided not to receive a wife.  Oh, my – Jesus became a eunuch by choice!  This was a very complicated thing in ancient Israel as it is today, since in Hebrew thought – and as well modern thought – a man is not complete without a wife.

Regardless of the spiritual or educational understanding of people, human nature is psychologically pre-disposed to rejecting what is different.  We normally refer to this attitude, as social prejudice.  If it is manifested by a group-think, we call it xenophobia.

Christianity does NOT teach that everything or everyone is good.  It also does NOT teach us to reject out of hand.  It encourages the disciple of Christ to “test the Spirits” [1Jn.4:1], and warns us that some men’s sin follow behind them [1Tim.5:24].  As well, we are told to be shrewd as snakes and gentle as doves.  But nowhere are we told to reject on purely one’s personal likes and dislikes.

Regardless of the maturity of other Christians, those who find themselves rejected squarely on prejudice and fear, should look to Christ Jesus for acceptability.

“A bruised [Heb., ‘ratsats’- to break or oppress] reed he will not break [Heb., ‘shabar’- shiver, shatter, as with a ship in a storm] and a smoldering [Heb. ‘keheh’- weak; dim] wick he will not snuff out [Heb., ‘kabah’ – to quench, to go out, to extinguish] [Is.42:3; Mt.12:20]

SUMMARRY:

As one can readily evaluate; people in the previously mentioned categories – through no cognizant fault of their own – that make other people nervous in social atmospheres – are in view.  Being the odd man or woman out, leaves the feeling of inadequacy and rejection.  Yet God has said, to those that bind or join themselves to him, he “will in no wise cast out” [Jn.6:37 – KJV].

The short statured tax collector, Zacchaeus, of Lk.19, was a definite misfit and social outcaste.  Disliked for his collection of taxes, and having the nerve to be of short stature, yet had all that tax-power.  He was more than most people could accept.  Yet, Jesus responded to the desire of Zacchaeus – to know and honor the Lord.  Jesus said of him;

“Salvation has come to this [his] house, because this man too, is a son of Abraham” [Lk.19:1-10].

Gideon, the Old Testament judge, was not afforded much honor. Though his name promises power [Gideon means, feller, fierce, terrible or killer], he was considered the runt of the litter and his family was the least of clans [Judg.6:15].  His power was so useless that he separated the wheat cornels from the chaff, in a cave, where there would be no wind to help drive off that chaff.  After talking with the angel, Gideon built an altar to God, because he believed the angel and he desired to honor Yehovah properly.  His desire to honor God gave him an honorable name in the end; for people all around called him, Jerub-Baal, meaning, “one who contends with Baal” or “Baal contends with him” [Judg.7:1].  Baal is literally translated, “lord,” but means the local deity.

Those that fall into this, “odd-man-out,” category, are told to continuing serving God, where they are.  Regardless of opposition, they are to continue worshiping God, loving Him, and keeping His Sabbath, by maintaining justice and righteousness [Is.56:1, 2, 6,].

Even though the world, or our fellow believers, may not grant us a good name, God will put up a plaque in his Temple with our names upon it, and he assures us that we are the ones He will bring up to his holy mountain [see also Ps.15, 24, 91].  For God has said;

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast my covenant – to them I will give within my Temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters”

[Is.56:5]

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