Outsiders welcome in God’s House
Welcome immigrants, eunuchs, other outsiders1
Here’s what the LORD says:
Treat everyone fairly with justice for all.
I’ll come to your rescue soon.
Everyone will see it when I save you.
You won’t regret showing justice,
Or keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest,
Or saying no to behaving badly.
3 Don’t give foreigners who worship me reason to say,
“I’m not one of God’s chosen people.”
Don’t give eunuchs reason to say,
“I’m a dead tree that can’t produce fruit.”
4 Here’s what the LORD says:
Eunuchs who obey the Sabbath rules,
Keep the agreement I made with my people,
And live a life that honors me,
5 Will get something better than children.
I will give them a place of honor in my house.
I will give them a name that will live forever.
I will not let them be forgotten.
6 Foreigners who worship the LORD,
Observe the Sabbath,
And keep the agreement I made with my people,
7 I’ll bring to Jerusalem’s holy mountain.
They’ll worship as one of my people at the temple.
They will offer their sacrifices, and I’ll accept them.
My temple will be a place of worship that welcomes everyone.
8 Here’s what else the LORD says about that:
I’m bringing my people home.
And I’m bringing others along.
Israel’s new leaders are corrupt9
Wild animals, come and get it.
Come enjoy a hot meal.
Don’t know what they’re doing.
They’re worthless as guard dogs
That won’t make a sound.
Good for nothing but sleeping
And dreaming whatever dogs dream.
11 These dogs love to eat.
They’re always hungry.
They don’t care about anyone else.
They want what they want
And they get their own way.
12 “Come,” they say. “Let’s have some wine.
We’ll celebrate and drink ourselves green.
Tomorrow’s my payday.
Just like today.
But with a bonus reserved for me.”
Jews observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday night through sundown Saturday. It’s a day of rest and worship—a holy day reserved for time with God. Jews aren’t even to cook on the Sabbath (cooks get the day off, too). Instead, they eat meals prepared ahead of time (Exodus 16:23).
Eunuchs were men whose testicles were removed. This might have been as a punishment or as an honor, such as serving a king by guarding the wives and daughters in his harem.
God entered into an agreement—often called a covenant or a contract—with the Jewish people. He promised to protect them and bless them with success in life. In return the Jewish people were to obey the laws Moses gave them. The Book of Deuteronomy is a summary of those laws and the rituals they were to observe. For one, they were to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins and to thank God for his kindness. Deuteronomy 28 lays out the rewards the Jewish people get for honoring their part of the agreement and the penalties for breach of contract, which meant breaking the laws. Observant Jews today still take these laws and rituals seriously, though they no longer sacrifice animals. That was restricted to the Jerusalem Temple, which Romans destroyed in AD 70. A 1400-year-old Muslim shrine—the famous Dome of the Rock—now sits where the Temple complex once dominated the ancient cityscape.
Perhaps a reference to the Jewish worship center, the Jerusalem Temple, which needs rebuilt. Babylonian invaders demolished it in 586 BC. Jewish writers described the Jerusalem Temple as God’s home on earth (Psalm 42:4). Or it might mean a place with God in his heavenly home.
Some scholars say the wild animals are the hostile neighbors of the Jews who returned to their homeland after the 50-year exile of 586 BC. They left what is now Iraq, where they were held captive, and they returned to Jerusalem. But the city walls were destroyed, so the Jews were vulnerable to attack from settlers who moved into the area and to neighboring nations.
Most Bible scholars seem to say this is a complaint about corruption among Israel’s leaders after they returned from Babylonian exile in the mid-500s BC. If so, the nation was getting off to a bad start. And the prophet predicted fresh disaster. Other scholars say the writer was reporting some of the history that led to the exile in 586 BC, and that he wasn’t talking about the Jews returning from exile.
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