Isaiah 65


‘I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of impure meat; who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day. “See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps—both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,” says the LORD. “Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds.” Isaiah 65:1-7

Judgment And Salvation

This chapter describes the new state of religion inaugurated by the Redeemer.

In this chapter, God answers the plea made in Isaiah 64:12. God declared that He had called and had rejected the Jews only because the Jews had first rejected Him. Yet those Jews who repent may now be saved on the same terms as the Gentiles.

The Gentiles seek God, while rebellious Israel turns away. They searched for God, but they were searching in the wrong places, John 5:39-40. Like a father pleading with his children, so God pleads with His people even when they are in rebellion, Matthew 11:28-30.

They provoked God by offering sacrifices to gods they had made up in their own minds. This is most likely a reference to the idolatrous practices common in Judah in the days of Ahaz.

Their gods were supposedly located in gardens, places to which they went to offer sacrifices, Isaiah 1:29 / Isaiah; 57:5 / Ezekiel 20:38. In seeking to communicate with the dead, they were in places where Jews were not to be. They did those things that were an abomination to the Lord.

The eating of swine was forbidden in the law of Moses, Leviticus 11:7. Some exalted themselves as holier than others because they were supposedly more in touch with the spirit world. They were an irritating stench of smoke in the nose of God. God will punish the evildoers, that is, rebellious Israel, Jeremiah 16:18.

‘This is what the LORD says: “As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still a blessing in it,’ so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live. Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me. “But as for you who forsake the LORD and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” Isaiah 65:8-12

Here we read that not all of Israel is rejected, only those who refuse God’s Word. He needed only a remnant in order to continue the seedline promise that was made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3. Therefore, God would preserve the good grapes from which to make new wine. The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.

‘Sharon’ and ‘Anchor’ are named here as symbols representing the whole land from west to east. They worship the false gods of Destiny and Fortune but they were given over by God to destruction by the sword of the enemies of Judah.

God has faithful servants in the midst of an unfaithful nation.

‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit. You will leave your name for my chosen ones to use in their curses; the Sovereign LORD will put you to death, but to his servants he will give another name. Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the one true God; whoever takes an oath in the land will swear by the one true God. For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.’ Isaiah 65:13-16

Here we read that the new servants of God, called by a new name would enjoy superior blessings. God says that the faithful would be spared, but the disloyal apostate would suffer calamity.

The words, ‘you will leave your name for my chosen ones to use in their curses’, imply that the Jews became a representative example of the penalty of divine wrath, Numbers 5:21 / Jeremiah 29:22 / Zechariah 8:13. The new name was ‘Christian’, Isaiah 62:2 / Acts 11:26.

God blesses those who are a blessing to Him in this world.

New Heavens And A New Earth

‘See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labour in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.’ Isaiah 65:17-25

Here we read of the nature of the new Jerusalem, that is, the church is altogether different from the old.

A radical change is affected in the work. A peaceful disposition reigns over the church, a sharp contrast with the previous disruption within the kingdom. ‘I create’, is the very word which appears in Genesis 1:21 / Genesis 1:27 to specify the divine act of bringing into existence.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It is within that sacred fellowship that the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the wolf and the lamb shall lie down together, as stated in Isaiah’s earlier reference to the Messianic Age, Isaiah 11:6-9. Of course, what is meant is that the changes in men’s lives, due to their obedience to the Gospel, will be ‘As great as if,’ the nature of fierce animals should be so changed.’

This reference to the lion and the wolf, along with its counterpart, has several utilities.

1. Again we have an instance of ‘here a little and there a little’, so often seen in Isaiah.

2. It identifies this passage as pertaining to the age of the Messiah, as is the case in Isaiah 11:6-9.

3. And it serves to illustrate the unity of the prophecy and its authorship by Isaiah.

Some people point to Isaiah’s prophecy of ‘new heavens and a new earth’ and argue that these prophecies haven’t been fulfilled. So, I guess we need to ask the question, what is this ‘new heavens and a new earth’? Has this prophecy of Isaiah been fulfilled or not?

I want you to notice that Isaiah twice foretold ‘new heavens and a new earth’. Isaiah 65:17 / Isaiah 66:22, the apostle Peter did so too, 2 Peter 3:13, and so did the apostle John, Revelation 21:1.

But what do they mean when they use this phrase? Let’s take a moment to go through each one whilst keeping each one in its context, starting with Isaiah 65:17.

The apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1-2, the beginning of the context, and applies them to the present age, Romans 10:20-21. Notice how Isaiah’s prophecy ends, Isaiah 65:25.

The words, ‘my holy mountain’ are a clue that identifies the time and nature of the fulfilment. The prophecy of the Lord’s ‘holy mountain’ relates to the first coming of Christ, Isaiah 11:1-2 / Isaiah 11:9 / Isaiah 61:1-2 / Luke 4:16-21, and is a figurative term for the rule of Christ in His church, His kingdom, Isaiah 2:1-4 / Hebrews 12:22-23 / Hebrews 12:28.

And the nature of this kingdom is spiritual rather than material, John 18:36 / Romans 14:17. In other words, ‘the new heavens and new earth’ of Isaiah 65:17 is the present divine order under the rule of Christ and the spiritual dwelling place for the people of God, the church.

In Isaiah 66:22, Isaiah refers to this same ‘new heavens and the new earth’. The context here is a prophecy of Christ coming into the world and establishing His church, Isaiah 66:7-9 / Micah 5:2-3 / Revelation 12:1-11.

In other words, Isaiah 66:22 is a continuation of the promise of Isaiah 65:17 and likewise relates to the present rule of Christ over His kingdom, the church.

2 Peter 3:13, is in a totally different context, here Peter is warning against scoffers who deny that Christ will come again, 2 Peter 3:1-4. And so, he assures us that the promise of the Lord’s return will be fulfilled, 2 Peter 3:5-9, at which time ‘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.’ 2 Peter 3:10.

But notice there is nothing in the passage or even the context for that matter which indicates Peter is speaking figuratively, therefore we should take the warning literally. This present universe is destined for sudden, fiery, divine destruction.

This shouldn’t worry the Christians because Peter says, ‘we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells’, 2 Peter 3:13.

In other words, in harmony with the meaning of the phrase ‘new heavens and a new earth,’ we await a new order of things and a new dwelling place. This is a home in heaven, 1 Peter 1:3-5, in which we will have glorious, immortal, spiritual bodies like that of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 / 1 John 3:2.

John likewise in Revelation 21:1, saw in a vision this new order of things after the return of the Lord in which the death, sickness, pain, suffering, and sorrow of this present age shall have passed away and God once more dwells with His people and this for all eternity, Revelation 21:2-5.

Common sense tells us that if the Christian is promised ‘heaven’ which is our final dwelling place, and yet we’re also promised a ‘new heavens and a new earth,’ common sense tells us that the new heavens and earth represent the same state as heaven.

All the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ, most of which were both figurative and spiritual, are indeed fulfilled in the New Testament age. The ‘new heavens and a new earth’ of Isaiah are the rule of Christ over His spiritual kingdom, His church.

So, what does the phrase mean in the New Testament? It simply means it is symbolic of heaven itself, nothing more, nothing less. There are yet ‘new heavens and a new earth’ in store for Christians at the Lord’s return, it will be a wonderful home in heaven where everlasting joy awaits. No wonder John writes, ‘Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.’ Revelation 22:20.

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