Good news! God is coming back to rescue His people and display His righteousness. Better news! God will rescue others besides His people, the outcasts of Israel.
When I read this passage I couldn’t help thinking of the current nation of Israel and its struggles to survive. I know there are different views among Christians about Israel, but I know God isn’t done with the Jews yet. I first became aware of the suffering of the Jews throughout history in high school when I read The Source by James Michener. I was horrified that a whole race of people had been persecuted because they set themselves apart, just as God commanded them to.
It’s ironic that they also suffered because they didn’t set themselves apart. The Old Testament is filled with stories of the rebellion of God’s people, His punishment, their repentance and His rescue. Over and over. The Israelites weren’t the only ones to rebel against Him, of course, and they are not the only ones He has rescued. That’s also the story of my salvation.
Which makes this passage much more personal than just a promise to the Israelites. Just who does God say He will He rescue?
His people who honor His Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong.
These are the ones who have always known Him, who set themselves apart for Him. They don’t live like the world does, filling up their days with work and other activities, ignoring His standards. These are His people who are just and fair to all, who do right and good. Whatever their circumstances, they know they will be blessed. They’re going to be rescued from the world they’ve already turned away from.
Foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord.
These were not originally His people, but they’ve come to know Him. They have committed themselves to Him and serve Him and love His name. They worship Him and they also set themselves apart. They hold fast to His covenant, by which He has grafted them into the House of Israel. He brings them into His house of prayer and fills them with joy in His presence.
Eunuchs who choose to do what pleases Him and commit their lives to Him.
This is an interesting category of people. Eunuchs are men who are childless because of the physical injury that has been done to them. They have no family, but more importantly, they have no children to honor their memory when they are gone. Essentially, they are mortal and their lives are short. Yet God promises to give them a better memorial than children give their parents. He promises to give them an everlasting name. These people suffer in this life, but will receive eternal life filled with blessings.
The one thing all three of these categories of people have in common is that they honor God’s Sabbath days of rest. They set aside time for Him and only Him. They don’t do wrong, they do what pleases Him, they hold fast to His covenant. In other words they set themselves apart from the world and live God’s way.
Whichever of these categories each of us belongs to, we can live in the hope that He’s coming back to rescue us. Good news indeed.