THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
Former things will no longer be remembered
Isaiah 65 SCC 2/23/14
THE LORD WILL JUDGE REBELLIOUS PEOPLE WHO TURN ASIDE TO FALSE GOD 65:1-5
A. THE LORD CALLS PEOPLE TO HIMSELF 1-2
Verse 1: So God explains how He extended the offer to the people to participate with Him in the covenant and in pure worship. God replied that He had been gracious in allowing a nation to call on Him and to obtain responses from Him since that nation did not normally pray to Him. The Apostle Paul applied this verse to the Gentiles, people to whom God had responded before they called (Rom 10:20ff).
Verse 2: The holding out the hands is in the gesture of entreaty. But the people have been obstinate. There has been no response by them to God’s overtures. Rather, they have followed a “way that is not good.” They were rebellious and pursued their own agenda. He was not unresponsive. They wanted to have Him on their own terms.
B. THE LORD CONDEMNS SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES 3-5
Verse 3: The Lord accuses His people of provoking Him to anger before His very face. Gardens were unauthorized places for sacrificing, and bricks were unauthorized materials for an altar. The Israelites provoked the Lord by offering their sacrifices in ways that were unacceptable to Him and then claimed that He was unresponsive to them.
Verse 4: introduces their sitting among the graves for the purpose of necromancy. Messages from the dead were supposed to have been conveyed to those who spent the night in the graves, because the souls of the dead were thought to have haunted the tombs. The Israelites also engaged in pagan practices that rendered them unclean, and they were not careful to avoid the defilement caused by disregard of God’s will.
Verse 5: The Israelites’ assumption of spiritual superiority over others disgusted the Lord. Rather than being a pleasing aroma in His nostrils, the smoke of their offerings repulsed Him. Their ceaseless sacrifices were a needless burning instead of pleasing acts of worship.
THE LORD WILL PURGE REBELS & PREPARE THE REMNANT FOR THE FUTURE 65:6-16
A. JUDGMENT WILL FALL ON THE WICKED 6-7
Verse 6: When the Lord says, “it stands written” He means that this evil will not be allowed to pass without judgment. He will not keep silent about this, but will pay back in full measure—into their laps. The Lord announced that judgment was sure and inescapable. The people had demanded that He speak, but they did not appreciate when He spoke His word would be one of judgment rather than a word of deliverance.
Verse 7: The sins of the people as well as the sins of their fathers will be paid back. Their worship on the mountaintops was simply blatant idolatry and profane apostasy. Repayment would be for the sins of all His people, since they had a long with their sin. They had heaped up guilt from generation to generation, and failure to break with the past resulted in pay them back in measure for their sins.
B. THE REMNANT WILL BE SAVED 8-10
Verse 8: the nation is compared to a cluster of grapes, which is so rotten that only the presence of juice in a few grapes keeps the whole bunch from being destroyed. The juice in the few grapes is the remnant, the new wine that should not be destroyed. There is some good—so God will not destroy them all.
Verse 9: When the Lord purges the rebels from the land, He will bring outthe faithful as the sole possessors of the blessings. “Bring forth” here means cause to emerge. And the “mountains” would be a reference to Judah, the land that God’s servants will inherit. God would preserve a godly remnant from among His people who would inherit His promises to the patriarchs concerning His land and kingdom.
Verse 10: The boundaries of the land are given. “Sharon” refers to the whole land, from the Mediterranean to the descent to the Jordan. The faithful who truly sought the Lord would inhabit the fertile western coastal plain and the barren eastern area west of Jericho, in other words, the whole land.
C. THE REBELS WILL BE DESTROYED 11-12
Verse 11: those who have abandoned the Lord and have spread a table for Fortune and prepared wine for Destiny. These ideas of fortune and luck were associated with the stars, and so there may be a connection with astrological worship. Whatever the deities were, the people spread food for them in their ritual of sympathetic magic.
Verse 12: announces that such who do these are destined for the sword. These Israelite hypocrites would be the objects of His judgment because when He had called they had not responded with obedience. Far from controlling their own fortune and destiny, the Lord would control it. They had chosen the things in which the Lord did not delight—they had rebelled—so He would bring discipline on them
D. DIFFERENT DESTINIES AWAIT PEOPLE 13-16
Verse 13: the Lord contrasts the lot of the righteous with that of the wicked. The wicked will go hungry and eventually be put to shame, meaning completely disappointed in their expectations.
Verse 14: The contrast continues where the righteous will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but the wicked will be vexed in their spirits—literally, a shattering of their spirit.
Verse 15: The name of the wicked will be left to curse. This means that a fate like theirs will be the most extreme destruction, which the righteous can invoke upon an enemy. Yet the good estate of the righteous will necessitate different designations to be used in describing them.
Verse 16: Thus, the Lord’s faithful accomplishment of the threats and promises in these verses will lead people to appeal confidently to Him to fulfill a blessing prayed for, or to avenge a perjured oath. The “God of truth” will once again be revered in the land; and the troubles of the former times for the remnant will be gone. The past life with all of its sinfulness and rebellion will be forever forgotten.
ASSURES US OF A GLORIOUS FUTURE IN THE NEW WORLD HE WILL CREATE 65:17-25
Verse 17: When this age ends the Lord will create a new heaven and a new earth and a New Jerusalem v 18. What Isaiah wrote about this new creation is true of its various stages in the future--1000 yrs. John identified it as “new heavens and a new earth,” the eternal state. It will all be far more wonderful, and complex, than we can even imagine: so much better then that people will not even think about things as they used to be.
Verse 18: This new creation is a cause for ceaseless hope and rejoicing among God’s people. The New Jerusalem would be a place of rejoicing in contrast to present mourning; its people eternally happy.
Verse 19: Weeping and mourning will be removed. God Himself would also rejoice in the new city and in the new people in that new city. Weeping and crying would end in that new city (Rev 21:4).
Verse 20: And one of the causes of sorrow, death, or at least untimely death, will be removed so that there will be longevity once again. Death will lose its power. Infant mortality will be virtually unknown, and people’s life spans will be much longer. Believers alive in the Millennium will live longer on this earth but they will die. And in the eternal state even physical death will be gone.
Verse 21-22: People who will be on earth will live, marry, have children, build, and be in harmony with nature. Likewise there will be abundant safety and plenty when God brings new life to the world. Again, people will live longer than other of God’s creations such as trees and their own “creations” such as buildings and bridges that normally outlive them. Note that people will continue to work.
NB: What is clear from the prophet’s message is that there is coming a marvelous new creation that will end the curse and its effects. A return from captivity to Israel could not have satisfied these prophecies, especially since the apostle picks them up and advances them. This remains the glorious prospect of the righteous.
Verse 23: Life will not be futile or frustrating, labor will amount to something, and children will be born for productive lives rather than for tragedy. The passage holds out the hope of a share in the world to come, the new creation of the Lord. God will renovate all things in this world.
Verse 24: Perfect communication with God will be another blessing of this peaceable kingdom. Christians already enjoy good communication with Him but in the future it will be even better.
Verse 25: In the future it will not be harmful because the effects of the fall will have been erased. Nature will no longer be man’s enemy. The Lord’s curse on the snake, which has only been fulfilled figuratively so far—snakes do not literally feed on dust now but on plants and animals—will find complete fulfillment.
1. In a day and age when God’s compete with allegiance for the God of the Bible, remember he accepts no rivals for out affections.
2. The Lord’s favor is always available for those who remain faithful to him. That faithfulness is expressed in the form of devotion to His will and Word with no deviation.
3. God is preparing a special eternal future for the remnant of believers to live with him forever. In the meantime he is preparing things for His Son’s reign on earth first which will fulfill prophecy.