Archive for the ‘Isaiah 56’ Tag

Devotion for the Feast of the Epiphany (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:   A Pencil Eraser

Image Source = ProSavage2600

Erasing Lines

JANUARY 6, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


Proverbs 3:5-8

Isaiah 56:3-5

Acts 15:1-21

John 7:25-31


The readings for this day, taken together, teach that God acts toward us according to who we are, not from where we hail.  Proverbs 3:5-8 encourages us to trust only in God.  Isaiah 56:3-5 tells us that faithful foreigners are equal to other faithful people in the eyes of God.  We read of one controversy regarding welcoming Gentiles into the nascent Church in Acts 15.  Last, but not least, we read of a lack of hospitality toward Jesus among members of his own ethnic group.

The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Gentiles.  On such a day these readings fit well.  These readings are also appropriate at any time one seeks to exclude those who are different in some way yet known to God favorably.  These readings remind me of a cartoon I have seen.  People are drawing lines with pencils, but Jesus is erasing lines.








Devotion for January 19 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  Peter’s Vision

Inclusion, Foreigners, and God (I)

JANUARY 19, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 44:1-16, 23-29

Psalm 56 (Morning)

Psalms 100 and 62 (Evening)

Romans 9:1-18


Thus said the Lord GOD:  Let no alien, uncircumcised in spirit and flesh, enter My Sanctuary–no alien whatsoever among the people of Israel.

–Ezekiel 44:9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures


Let not he foreigner say,

Who has attached himself to the LORD,

“The LORD will keep me apart from His people”…

As for the foreigners

Who attach themselves to the LORD,

To minister to Him,

And love the name of the LORD,

To be His servants–

All who keep the sabbath and do not profane it,

And who hold fast to My covenant–

I will bring them to My sacred mount

And let them rejoice in My House of prayer.

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices

Shall be welcome on My altar;

For My House shall be called

A house of prayer for all peoples.

–Isaiah 56:3a, 6-7, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures


There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female–for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And simply by  being Christ’s, you are that progeny of Abraham, the heirs named in the promise.

–Galatians 3:28-29, The New Jerusalem Bible


Then Peter addressed them, “I now really understand,” he said, “that God has no favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him….”

–Acts 10:34-35, The New Jerusalem Bible


In Christ is neither Jew nor Greek,

and neither slave nor free;

both male and female heirs are made,

and all are kin to me.

–Laurence Hull Stokely, 1987; verse 3 of “In Christ There Is No East or West,” The United Methodist Hymnal (1989)


The bulk of the assigned reading from Ezekiel condemns the corrupt and idolatrous priesthood.  Idolatry is always worth condemning, but another part of that lesson attracted my attention.  Foreigners were excluded from parts of the rebuilt Temple.  A note in The Jewish Study Bible referred me to a different perspective in Isaiah 56:3-8; I have quoted part of that passage in this post.  In that reading a foreigner who lives according to the covenant of God is to be welcomed at the Temple.  I have quoted other texts of inclusion in God (especially via Jesus) in this part.  If you, O reader, think of them as refutation of Ezekiel 44:9, you understand my meaning correctly.

Paul, a Jew, was a great apostle to the Gentiles.  As a Gentile, I am grateful to him.  He, Simon Peter (to a different extent) and others saw past boundaries such as national origin and ethnicity.  This position caused controversy in earliest Christianity, as history and the Bible tell us.  Exclusion helps define borders and thereby to help us know who we are; We are not those people over there.  This is a negative identification.

Yes, there are human and theological differences, some of them important.  But more vital is the love of God for everyone.  And we who claim to follow God ought to seek to express that love to others, regardless of a host of differences.  Each of us is foreign to someone; may we remember that.









Third Week of Advent: Friday   7 comments

Above: The Earth in 1972, Courtesy of Apollo 17

The Universality of God

DECEMBER 16, 2022


Isaiah 56:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

These are the words of the LORD:

Maintain justice, and do what is right;

for my deliverance is close at hand,

and my victory will soon be revealed.

Happy is the person who follows these precepts

and holds fast to them,

who keeps the sabbath unprofaned,

who keeps his hand from all wrongdoing!

The foreigner who has given his allegiance to the LORD must not say,

The LORD will exclude me from his people.

The eunuch must not say,

I am naught but a barren tree.

These are the words of the LORD:

The eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,

who choose to do my will

and hold fast to my covenant,

will receive from me something better than sons and daughters,

a memorial and a name in my own house and within my walls;

I shall give them everlasting renown,

an imperishable name.

So too with the foreigners who give their allegiance to me,

to minister to me and love my name

and become my servants,

all who keep the sabbath unprofaned

and hold fast to my covenant:

these I shall bring to my holy hill

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Their offerings and sacrifices

will be acceptable on my altar;

for my house will be called

a house of prayer for all nations.

This is the word of the Lord GOD,

who gathers those driven out of Israel:

I shall add to those who have already been gathered.

Psalm 67 (Revised English Bible):

May God be gracious to us and bless us,

may he cause his face to shine on us,

that your purpose may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, God;

let all peoples praise you.

Let nations rejoice and shout in triumph;

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations of the earth.

Let all the peoples praise you, God;

let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its harvest.

May God, our God, bless us.

God grant us his blessing,

that all the ends of the earth may fear him.

John 5:33-36 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

You [certain Jews] sent messengers to John and he has testified to the truth.  Not that I rely on human testimony, but I remind you of it for your salvation.  John was a brightly burning lamp, and for a time you were ready to exult in his light.  But I rely on a testimony higher than John’s: the work my Father has given me to do and to finish, the very work I have in hand, testifies that the Father has sent me.

The Collect:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.


Peter began:  “I now understand how true it is that God has no favourites, but that in every nation those who are god-fearing and do what is right are acceptable to him.”–Acts 10:34-35 (Revised English Bible)

This quote from the Apostle Peter fits nicely with the designated readings for this day.  We read that God welcomes righteousness from anyone, not just members of a select population.  So the message of God is for all people, but not all accept it, of course.  Nevertheless, all whose lives reveal godliness are acceptable to God.  In God there are no outsiders.  To borrow a line from a hymn, “In Christ there is no east or west.”  In Christ there is no longer male or female, Jew or Gentile, domestic or foreign, citizen or alien, heterosexual or homosexual, “White” or African descent or First Nations, et cetera.

Yet we mortals insist on making such distinctions, often out of good intentions (yet sometimes out of prejudice).  Yet with God the standard is different:  it is active love of God, others, and self, manifested in one’s life.  And that rule excludes prejudices.


Written on June 2, 2010