The barren and the outcast

The impact of Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf is meant to be life transforming and community transforming.

Read Isaiah 54-56

Isaiah pictures an infertile woman, seemingly deserted with it seeming impossible for her to have children.  However, the barren one is blessed and now able to sing, she will have children and so will need to increase the size of her dwelling to accommodate them,  The picture of course is of God’s people restored to blessing and fruitfulness (54:1-3). God himself is the husband ad he renews his covenant with her.  Her shame is removed and she no longer needs to fear (54:4-8). Just as God promised Noah that there would not be a repeat of the flood, so too God’s people kno that there won’t be a second punishment. The price is paid in full (54:9-10). God’s people can look forward to restored fortunes because God himself will teach them to follow his ways  The Lord will protect them from their enemies (54:11-17).

The promise of renewed blessing includes an invitation to come to God for provision.  He will meet their needs freely even though they are unable to pay him back (55:1-5).  If there is an invitation to receive from God, then there is also a call to seek him, to follow him, to pay him due attention (55:6-11). There is promise of joy and peace (55:12-13).

God’s people are to live in response to his salvation by seeking to live righteous and obedient lives. The call and promise is inclusive to all peoples, it embraces those who would have been excluded form worshipping God and participating in the Temple sacrificial system, even eunuchs and foreigners.  Note that eunuchs, like infertile women are barren. The righteousness they are called to is a new kind of righteousness (56:1-8).

The hope and life offered by God’s chosen servant, the righteous shepherd is contrasted sharply and severely with the way that the false shepherds, the supposed spiritual leaders of Israel had failed to lead and instead through corruption oppressed God’s people (56:9-12).


Meditate on these words from Isaiah 56:8

“The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts

  1. Who are the outcasts in our society and your community?
  2. Would you consider yourself an outcast?

Thank you Lord God that you gather the outcasts. Thank you that this means that I belong to you.  Give me a love for those considered outcasts today and a desire to see them gathered to you.

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