From Isaiah 64-66
Today we finish Isaiah. Its been a good read and I hope you have noticed that while it contains lots of judgment, there is also lots of hope because the LORD promises restoration. Today is no different. The author begins by condemning the people who have rejected him.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
65 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be 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.
2 I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3 a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and making offerings on bricks;
4 who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat pig’s flesh,
and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;
5 who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all the day. (Is 65.1-5)
The prophet has presented himself to the people (‘Here I am’) but they have ignored him. They have rebelled against the LORD. They sacrifice in gardens, when they should sacrifice in the temple of the LORD. They make offerings on bricks (fashioned by tools), when they should make offerings on altars of uncut stones (Ex 20.24-25). They sit in tombs, where dead people are buried. Thus they make themselves unclean. They eat unclean food. They stand over others in pride and cast contempt on them. In all this they provoke the LORD to anger. His anger burns within him and strains for release.
6 Behold, it is written before me:
“I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their lap
7 both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they made offerings on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills,
I will measure into their lap
payment for their former deeds.” (Is 65.6-8)
The concept of sin uses a monetary analogy. Sins acquire debt. Debt must be paid off. The way this is done in the bible is by punishment. The LORD will pay them back for their iniquities. He will punish them.
Then the author gives us some hope for Judah.
8 Thus says the LORD:
“As the new wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, ‘Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,’
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
9 I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
and from Judah possessors of my mountains;
my chosen shall possess it,
and my servants shall dwell there.
10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks,
and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
for my people who have sought me.
11 But you who forsake the LORD,
who forget my holy mountain,
who set a table for Fortune
and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you to the sword,
and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter,
because, when I called, you did not answer;
when I spoke, you did not listen,
but you did what was evil in my eyes
and chose what I did not delight in.” (Is 65.8-12)
Not all of them are unfaithful grots. There is a faithful remnant. So the LORD will not destroy them all. They are his chosen, his elect, his true servants (cf. Rom 11.1-5). They will prosper, but those who forsake the LORD and did not listen to him will face his wrath.
The prophet contrasts the fate of the two. The LORD’s chosen servants and those who forsake him. He is speaking to those who have forsaken the LORD. Up close and personal.
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 put to shame;
14 behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart,
but you shall cry out for pain of heart
and shall wail for breaking of spirit.
15 You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse,
and the Lord GOD will put you to death,
but his servants he will call by another name.
16 So that he who blesses himself in the land
shall bless himself by the God of truth,
and he who takes an oath in the land
shall swear by the God of truth;
because the former troubles are forgotten
and are hidden from my eyes. (Is 65.13-16)
Notice the repetition of ‘but you…’ (Is 65.13-15). I can’t imagine the people listening would have enjoyed being addressed like this. I suspect many turned away, angry and obstinate. I hope some considered how they had treated the LORD and repented. The prophet describes God’s people in more favourable terms. They will be in the land. They know the God of truth. The former troubles will be gone.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. (Is 65.17-20)
The prophet continues speaking about the promised age. The LORD will create new heavens (sky, spiritual realm) and a new earth. The people dwelling there will not remember the former things. They will be included in God’s new creation. The LORD will rejoice over them. Like a caring father over his children. There people in this new age will live a long long time.
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 like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord. (Is 65.21-25)
The LORD will be attentive to their needs. He will answer them before they finish asking for them. The animals of the earth will be at peace with one another. The serpent shall eat dust. The Devil will be defeated.
Story of Israel
Like many of the LORD’s prophecies this one generated hope and speculation. When would it be fulfilled? The LORD had punished his wayward people. He preserved the faithful remnant. Their punishment was lifted and they returned to the land. But, there was still violence, oppression and foreign rule. So they waited and hoped.
Story of Jesus
The time came for many of the LORD’s promised to be fulfilled. Jesus came, he died, rose again and many put their faith in him as the Christ of God. Still the LORD’s promise in Isaiah 65 has yet to be fulfilled. But it is not forgotten. The apostle John encourages his listeners with it in the book of Revelation.
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,2 and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and she will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21.1-8)
The LORD has done so much for us we can be thankful for in Jesus. He hasn’t finished yet. When he returns he will make all things new. There will be no more crying or pain for his people, because these things have passed away.
This ends our series on Isaiah. Tomorrow we start another book containing many judgments and prophecies. The book of Jeremiah.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.