Last week, we saw Isaiah praying to God and pleading with Him that the bad things that were going to happen, because of his peopleís sins, would not happen. He asked many questions. God was listening, and He is now going to make His response to Isaiah. Letís begin with a quick overview of what Chapter 65 is about.
Regarding the divisions of this chapter, we have (1) God's reply to the complaints visible in Israel's prayer for deliverance (Isaiah 65:1-7); (2) regardless of the total destruction awaiting the irreligious majority, a faithful remnant shall be redeemed (Isaiah 65:8-12); (3) a mingling of threats to the unfaithful and promises to the faithful (Isaiah 65:13-16); (4) a glorious depiction of the age of Messiah (Isaiah 65:17-25). Coffmanís commentary.
Isaiah 65:1 "I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' To a nation that was not called by My name.
At first glance, you might think this is referring to the Jews, but it is not. Notice, it is talking about a nation not called by His name. This is talking about the Gentile nation and Paul quotes this verse teaching this very idea in Romans 10:12-20. Our verse gives us a glimpse into the future to show that God was going to make a change in which a person does not have to be a physical descendant of Abraham to be one of Godís people because there was going to be a new spiritual Israel, which every Christian is a part of. Now, letís read Godís rebuke of His people starting in:
Isaiah 65:2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts;† 3 A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick;† 4 Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine's flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;† 5 Who say, 'Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day.† 6 "Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay -- Even repay into their bosom --† 7 Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together," Says the LORD, "Who have burned incense on the mountains And blasphemed Me on the hills; Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom."
When you read the O.T., you begin to see just how patient and caring God was with His people. Despite all that He did for His people, they continued to rebel against Him, which makes Him angry. He names some specific things they were doing. They were making unauthorized sacrifices and burning incense in the wrong way. They were sitting among the graves and spending the night in the tombs, which most think this means they were trying to communicate with the dead. They were eating unclean pigs, and others were making themselves out to be holier than everyone else. They blasphemed God on the hills, which means they were worshiping and burning incense to false gods. God is going to repay them for their continuous rebellion.
We should learn from this that our God is a loving and a patient God, but He is also a just God and there will always be consequences for our sins.
Isaiah 65:8 Thus says the LORD: "As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, 'Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,' So will I do for My servants' sake, That I may not destroy them all.† 9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, And from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, And My servants shall dwell there.† 10 Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, For My people who have sought Me.
These verses are talking about the remnant of Jews that would be saved. Not every Jew was unfaithful, and God would not allow the entire Jewish nation to be destroyed. In fact, we have learned in other lesson that God would end up freeing the remnant of Jews after 70 years of captivity, and they would rebuild the Jewish nation. Next, God has a word for the rest of the disobedient.
Isaiah 65:11 "But you are those who forsake the LORD, Who forget My holy mountain, Who prepare a table for Gad, And who furnish a drink offering for Meni.† 12 Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight."
Those who chose the path of unrighteousness would not be saved and would be destroyed, which is a great lesson for us today because the same principle is true. If you live for God, you will be blessed, but if you oppose Him and His way, you will face eternal destruction in hell.
Isaiah 65:13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed;† 14 Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit.† 15 You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord GOD will slay you, And call His servants by another name;† 16 So that he who blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My eyes.
Here we have a contrast between those who served God and those who were disobedient, and this principle is just as relevant today because the righteous will shine forth in heaven and the unrighteous will spend eternity in darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In verse 15, we have another hint that Godís people will be called by a new name, which points to the name Christian.
The last part of our chapter has spawned many strange doctrines, but instead of talking about all those, I just want to read the text and explain it.
Isaiah 65:17 " For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.† 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy.† 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.† 20 " No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.† 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.† 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.† 23 They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, And their offspring with them.† 24 " It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.† 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Says the LORD.
First letís consider this phrase, ďnew heavens and new earth.Ē I think it's obvious that this not talking about God literally creating new heavens and a new earth. No, this phrase is simply used to denote a major change. All of this other figurative language in our text is simply describing how great it will be to be part of this new heavens and earth. However, some religious groups like the Jehovah witness take our text literally. I once had two nice ladies who were Jehovah witnesses that used verse 25 and some other verses to teach that when all the bad people are destroyed, those followers of God that were not able to make it into heaven will be on the earth taken care of it like Adam and Eve. They also said that animals like the sheep and the lamb will no longer eat each other and the animals will be able to talk to us. However, all verse 25 is teaching is that there will be peace under the new heavens and earth. Now, this does not mean that will be no more war or people fighting one another, but it would a period of time when all kinds of people would be at peace with one another that had not been before.
So, what is Isaiah pointing to? Well, I believe he was referring to the time of the Messiah when a great change in Godís covenant would take place. There would be great rejoicing during this time because it would mean that our Savior had arrived. This new covenant certainly brought all walks of life together, Jews, Gentiles, tax collectors, etc. So, the new heavens and earth simply mean that a great change was going to happen, and it describes the Christian age. Some think that Isaiah is referring to heaven itself, but you will notice that it describes people still dying, which will not take place in heaven. The overall context of our chapter looks forward to the time the Gentiles would be Godís people as well. So, I have no doubt in my mind that Isaiah is talking about the Christian age. Now, the same phrase is used by Peter in:
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.† 11Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,† 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?† 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.†
When Peter uses our phrase, we can know that he is not referring to the Christian age because it was already in place. Again, keeping my mind that our phrase simply means a big change, we can understand that when Peter uses it, he is using it regards to the next phase in Godís timeline. The next big change will be when God burns up the earth and we will be judged by Jesus. We then will either be spending eternity in heaven or hell. So, that is all this phrase means and does not mean in either case that a literal new heavens and earth are going to be created, it just means that big change is going to happen in the way things are going to be done. The Book of Revelation describes heaven in a similar way.
Our final chapter summarizes what we just looked at, but it does it in a different order. In verses 1-4 the sinfulness of the people is talked about. An appeal is made to those who will take heed to Godís Word in verses 5-14. Verses 15-19 warns those who will reject God. The remainder of the Chapter talks about how salvation will be given to those who obey in the new heavens and earth, which I have already said points to the Christian age.
Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?† 2 For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.† 3 " He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog's neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine's blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations,† 4 So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight."
Man has a tendency to want to put God in a box, but He cannot be. Though God made His presences known in the temple that was built to house the Ark of the Covenant, it was not His home. We are given the mental picture of God having heaven as His throne and the earth His footstool. This shows how God cannot be confined to any place especial something made by man. Stephen also made reference to these verses in Acts 7. ††
Verse 2 tells us the kind of person that God is looking for. He wants someone who is poor and of a contrite spirit or we could say someone that is humble and has the right attitude toward God. Starting in verse 3, He starts talking about a person who is just the opposite. The person described in the verses is going through the motions of making sacrifices, burning incense and making grain offerings, but he is not doing it with the right attitude or in the correct manner. In fact, Isaiah points out how these people have chosen to do things their way and how they delight in it even though it is an abomination to the Lord. Even when the Lord called out to them, they would not answer.
Friends, this is exactly what it happening today. People are playing church the way they want it to be. They add things to their worship service that God has not authorized, they call evil things good and base most of what they do on how it makes them feel. If it brings them joy, then they do it. When we allow ourselves to do things our way, even when we do certain things that are commanded, it is just like we did not do them right because God does not want us doing some of what He said, He wants us to do all of what He said. Otherwise, we are sinning.
Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, You who tremble at His word: "Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name's sake, said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, That we may see your joy.' But they shall be ashamed."† 6 The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, Who fully repays His enemies!
These two verses are looking forward to the time of the church, when the fleshly Jews would reject those Jews who embraced the new covenant. Many examples can be given throughout the N.T. that shows how the fleshly Jews did everything they could against their own people who had converted to Christianity. The greatest shame that was brought up on these Jews was the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. by the Romans, which was one more proof that Jesus was sitting at the right hand of God because He predicted this destruction some 40 years before it happened in Matthew 24.
Isaiah 66:7 "Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child.† 8 Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.† 9 Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the LORD. "Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God.
Some see this pointing to Jesus being born and others see this pointing to the birth of the church. In either view, it would happen before physical Israel would start feeling the labor pains of her sins, which is referring what they went through shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem. Again, you can see the described in Matthew 24. Both Jesusís birth and the birth of the church happened before the destruction of Jerusalem, but based on the wording of our verses I lean more toward this talking about the birth of the church.
Isaiah 66:10 " Rejoice with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;† 11 That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory."† 12 For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on her knees.† 13 As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."† 14 When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, And your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the LORD shall be known to His servants, And His indignation to His enemies.
As you can tell, there is a lot of symbolic language being used in our chapter. The idea here is for the Jews to rejoice about the former glory of Jerusalem because it served its purpose, but now God would bless the new Jerusalem through the church and there will be peace between the Jews and the Gentiles because we know Godís new covenant, which began to be proclaimed at Jerusalem would be for Jews and Gentiles alike.
We see that God will comfort us as mother comforts her child and when His faithful people saw all this happening it would certainly be worth rejoicing over because the new convent is better than the old one (Heb. 8:6).
Isaiah 66:18 " For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.† 19 "I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles.† 20 "Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.† 21 "And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites," says the LORD. †††
Again, Isaiah is speaking of the church when all nations would be able to see the glory of God because all nations would have the opportunity to have salvation through Christ. The Gentiles would hear Godís Word and both Jew and Gentile would serve God together. Our Chapter ends with the following verses:
Isaiah 66:22 " For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me," says the LORD, "So shall your descendants and your name remain.† 23 And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me," says the LORD.† 24 "And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, And their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
Once again, we have our reference to new heavens and the new earth, which is still talking about the Christian age. We can see that those descendants that faithfully followed God will have a perpetual name - Christian. We also see a reference to how the wicked will indeed face eternal punishment because Jesus uses this same language to describe those who will be in hell in:
Mark 9:42 " But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.† 43 "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched --† 44 "where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.'† 45 "And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched --† 46 "where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.'† 47 "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire --† 48 "where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.'
God has given His answer to Isaiah in our two chapters. The answer is that God is a just God and He will punish the disobedient, but for those who continue to be faithful, they will be saved. There would be some of His peopleís descendants that would see the glorious day when the Messiah would come and establish a new covenant that would be for the Jews and Gentiles.
So, let us learn from this wonderful Book of Isaiah to appreciate the love of God and all that He does for us and realize there is always consequences to our sins, but if we worship Him and follow Him with a humble heart, we can know that He will always be there for us and salvation will certainly be ours. Our God is an awesome God, so let never take Him for granted or think we know better than Him. I want to close out this major prophet with following thought in:
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;† 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.† 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.† 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.