Isaiah 65 - Outline of Isaiah (MENU page)
C. Restoration secured through Israel's glorious King (The King of Peace), ch. 58-66
  1. Israel's false worship contrasted with true worship, 58:1-14
  2. Israel's confession of sin, and the Redeemer's remedy, 59:1-21
  3. Israel's radiance and peace in the Light of the Redeemer, 60:1-22
  4. Israel's joy in the completed Gospel of the Anointed One, 61:1-11
  5. Israel's complete restoration; the Lord's complete destruction of her enemies, 62:1-63:6
  6. The Remnant's prayer (enabled by their Shepherd's intercession) for Divine intervention, 63:7-64:12
  7. The Lord's response to the Remnant's prayer, 65:1-25
    1. The Reason for rejection of the nation, 65:1-7
    2. The Reservation of a remnant, 65:8-16
    3. The Revelation of the new heaven and the new earth, 65:17-25
    4. The Rest of trusting His Word, versus man's religious delusions, 66:1-4
    5. The Rebirth of Israel through travail, versus the rendering of recompense to His enemies, 66:5-9
    6. The Rejoicing of Jerusalem in continual consolations, versus the consumption of His enemies in eternal fire, 66:10-24
      [points a., b., c. adapted from JVMcGee]
 
a. The Reason for rejection of the nation, 65:1-7
1. I am sought of [them that] asked not [for me];
I am found of [them that] sought me not:
I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation [that] was not called by my name.
2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people,
which walketh in a way [that was] not good, after their own thoughts;
3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face;
that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;
4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments,
which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable [things is in] their vessels;
5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.
These [are] a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.
I am sought of them that asked not for me...-
Paul quotes v.1 in Rom 10:20, applying it to the proclamation of the Gospel to the gentile nations that had not been seeking the LORD. Although they did not seek Him, He pursued them, and many came to salvation.
I have spread out my hands... unto a rebellious people...-
In vs.2-5, the LORD is speaking about the Jewish people (as confirmed by Paul's quote of v.2 in Rom 10:21).
When God's Word is rejected by those who have opportunity to hear it, the LORD sends His messengers beyond them to people who will receive it. Thus, in the early days of the church, the message went to the gentiles when the Jews rejected it (eg., Acts 13:46).
a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face...- A brief list of offenses follows...-
  • that sacrifice in gardens...- ie., They worship in the idolatrous groves, rather than in the LORD's Temple;
    and bring their offerings to devils, rather than to the LORD. Jer 3:6; Deu 32:16-21
  • that burn incense upon altars of brick...-
    ie., Upon altars defiled by the inventions of men. eg., Ex 20:24-26
  • which remain among the graves... in the monuments...- ie., Seeking occult powers through communion with the dead.
    Num 19:11,20; Deu 18:10,11; Mark 5:2-5
  • which eat swines flesh...- Demonstrating their disregard for God's Law.
    Lev 11:7; Isa 66:17; cp. Mark 5:11-17
  • which say... I am holier {more sanctified} than thou...-
    This sounds like the self-righteousness of the Pharisees (eg., Luk 18:10-12).
    But in the context of these verses, it probably relates to the other occult practices which are condemned here.
         The specific items mentioned were representative of their spiritual corruption, through involvement in idolatry and occult practices, due to disregard for God's Law (relative to what is clean or unclean), and enthrallment with a deeper level of spirituality that set the initiated apart from the common man (making them, in their own sight, 'holier' than others, v.5; 66:17; cp. Rev 2:24).
         Throughout his ministry, Isaiah repeatedly warned Israel against these and other sins. Today, the western 'Christian' nations, which have long been privileged to have God's Word, are also guilty of rejecting it and turning instead to all sorts of false spirituality.
6 Behold, [it is] written before me: I will not keep silence,
but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,
7 Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD,
which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills:
therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.
...it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense...-
The LORD keeps a full accounting of our lives. The wages of sin will be paid out, in due time. Though the LORD delays judgment, patiently waiting for sinners to turn back to Him, the day of reckoning will come (Gal 6:7,8; 2Pet 3:9,10). The judgment, which Israel deserved, was rapidly approaching, as Isaiah wrote. It continues to this day, and will intensify as the Day of the LORD approaches.
your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together...- cp. Mat 23:29-36; Acts 7:51-53
 
b. The Reservation of a remnant, 65:8-16
8. Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster,
and [one] saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing [is] in it:
so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.
9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob,
and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains:
and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
10 And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks,
and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in,
for my people that have sought me.
as the new wine is found in the cluster...-
Though the LORD must deal harshly with Israel, His unfruitful vineyard (Isa 5:1-7), He will preserve a small group, the Remnant, whose hearts are right toward Him. Isa 10:20-22; 26:2-4; Rom 11:5,7
I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains...-
The 'seed' and 'inheritor' is first the Messiah, the elect {chosen One}. The Remnant, ('my servants') who follow Him, are 'chosen' {'elect'} of God because they are are identified with Him. Therefore, they will enter into the blessings of the Messiah's long anticipated Kingdom, when He comes. 1Pet 2:4-10; Psa 22:30
Sharon... a fold of flocks... the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down... for my people that sought me.-
The LORD will make the land of Israel to be a place of peace and safety for the Remnant. Sharon, the western coastal region along the Mediterranean Sea, had been a thoroughfare for the armies of Egypt and Assyria. Achor means 'trouble.' The valley of trouble where Achan was stoned (Josh 7:26) is located east of Jerusalem. The place of judgment would become a door of hope (Hos 2:15) and a place of peace, for the believing Remnant.
11. But ye [are] they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain,
that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.
12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter:
because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear;
but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose [that] wherein I delighted not.
ye are they that forsake the LORD... that prepare a table for that troop...-
The word 'troop' is HB=gad. One of Jacob's sons had this name, meaning 'a troop' (Gen 30:11; 49:19)
This was also the name of a Babylonian deity, the god of 'fortune.'
that furnish a drink offering unto that number...-
The word used here for 'number' {HB=maniy} referred to a Babylonian deity of 'fate' or 'destiny.' It is similar to the HB word 'manah' meaning to count or number. However, these words ('a troop... a number') also have broader significance.
The people honored multiple false gods with their offerings, as they sought to increase the chances of improving their lot in life, and of accumulating wealth and fortune.
but ye are they that forsake the LORD... therefore will I number {HB=manah} you to the sword...-
Except for the believing Remnant, the nation was destined for judgment, from which they would not escape.
because when I called, ye did not answer... when I spake, ye did not hear...- cp. v.2-4; Isa 59:1,2
13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD,
Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry:
behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty:
behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:
14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart,
but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
15 And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen:
for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name:
16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth;
and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth;
because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.
behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry...-
The LORD makes a radical distinction between unbelieving Israel and the believing Remnant of Israel (Rom 9:6-8).
     Likewise, He discerns between professing Christians and those who are truly His by the new birth, through faith in Christ (Mat 13:24-30). The Rapture of true believers will usher them into the joys of heaven (1The 4:16-18), while the false church, will suffer the judgments of the Tribulation period (Rev 2:22; 17:1,2).
     Those, who "eat... drink... and sing for joy," are those who have been redeemed, through faith in the Messiah and the salvation which He has provided. Isa 55:1-4; Joh 6:35; 7:37; 16:20-22
ye shall leave your name for a curse... the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name...-
The unbelieving nation would be destroyed, but the believing Remnant would be saved through their identification with the Messiah. cp. Isa 62:2 (with Jer 23:6; 33:16); Zech 8:13; Rom 9:26
...he who blesseth himself in the earth... that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth...-
The source, of blessing in the earth, is the God of truth, as opposed to the false gods which the unbelieving nation served to enhance their earthly fortunes (v.11). The word 'truth' is HB= 'amanah, the root of which is 'amen' (cp. 2Cor 1:20; Rev 3:14). At His first coming, the Messiah identified Himself, not only with the truth, but as the Truth (Joh 14:6; 18:37). The Remnant will know the blessings of serving their King, who is the God of Truth.
 
Some misuse v.15 to teach that God has cursed 'Israel,' and has displaced it with the 'Church.'
Other passages cited in support of this idea [with a counter-explanation by the editor] include:
  • Isa 62:2 - In our study of that passage, we saw that a "name" can be a description of character.
    The character of the nation of Israel will be changed to reflect the righteous character of their Messiah. This is also the primary sense, in the passage before us. (See the discussion and references in the paragraphs above.) Israelites whose hearts are not right with God will fall under His curse, while Israelites who are identified with the Messiah, will serve Him in truth and righteousness, with the whole heart.
  • Mat 21:43 - In the book of Matthew, the Messiah (Jesus Christ) presented Himself to the nation of Israel, as their King.
    But, at that time, the nation rejected Him. Therefore, the Messianic Kingdom would be postponed until His second coming (Mat 25:31). However, this postponement, of the earthly Kingdom, did not interrupt the Kingdom of God (also called the Kingdom of Heaven) which is the spiritual reign of God over all creation. Due to their unbelief of God's Word, the Jews, to whom Jesus spoke, would enjoy neither the earthly nor the spiritual kingdom, but would experience the wrath of God. Those who believed, both Jew and Gentile, would constitute the "nation" {GK=ethnos, people} of the spiritual Kingdom. (Paul applies 'ethnos' to Gentile believers in Rom 11:13, and elsewhere.)
  • Acts 11:26 - Believing Jews and Gentiles, as members of Christ's Body, the Church, are together identified with Christ,
    and therefore, are called 'Christians.' However, in the NT, the ethnicity of believers is not ignored. Paul remained a Jew, with strong concern for his "kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom 9:1-5). He was a co-laborer with many Gentile Christians, in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to Jew and Gentile, alike (Rom 1:16). Yet, the lives of Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles differed somewhat, due to the influence and expectations of their dissimilar cultural backgrounds (eg., Acts 15:19-27). Christian Jews were still Israelites. Christian Gentiles did not become Jews.
  • Rom 9:6-8 - While many ethnic Jews remain in unbelief, and therefore are not (yet) children of the promise,
    this does not mean that God no longer has a place for Israel as a nation and people, neither does it imply that Israel and the Church are the same body.
The above passages must be understood in the light of all scripture. They must be reconciled with passages such as:
  • Rom 11:1,2, which immediately follows Rom 10:21, where Paul quotes from the chapter before us (v.2).
    Far from casting away Israel, God has reserved to Himself a believing Remnant. Paul himself was a member of this Remnant.
  • Rom 11:25-27, which affirms that the Lord will save "all Israel" who are living, when their Messiah returns.
    At that time, He will remove their blindness, and their sin, as they recognize and receive Him.
  • Rom 11:28,29, which confirms that the Lord will keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, concerning their descendants.
    Some dismiss this argument by saying that Abraham is the father of faith, and therefore, his seed refers to those Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ (Rom 4:16), thus displacing his physical children who are in unbelief. It is true, that believing Gentiles have been grafted in to the household of faith (Rom 11:17-21), and also that believing Jews and Gentiles are one body, in Christ (ie., the Church, Eph 2:11-22; 3:5,6). But "His promise in Christ by the gospel" is of spiritual salvation and blessings, in heavenly places. Many of God's promises to Abraham and his seed are physical (eg., a land, national dominance, the Davidic Kingdom, etc.) and do not belong to the Church.
    [For an extended discussion of God's continuing purpose for Israel, see the Book Notes on Romans ch. 9-11.]
  • Isaiah 62 (and a multitude of similar passages, eg., Isa 46:13; Eze 37) declare that believing Israel is afforded a special place of honor in the Messianic Kingdom.
    Some discount these promises as allegorical illustrations of the eternal Kingdom of God. Often (but not always), in scripture, the Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom, are seen together in one passage, as they are in the remainder of this chapter (v.17-25). However, scripture clearly depicts two stages of the Messianic Kingdom... first, the Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:1-10), which is followed by the Eternal Kingdom (Rev 21,22). These Kingdoms have several features in common, but there are also several distinctions. For example,
    • The Millennial Kingdom includes a Temple, from which waters flow to the sea, and the borders and dimensions of earthly Jerusalem are clearly defined (in several chapters of Ezekiel).
    • In the Eternal Kingdom, there will be no Temple, there will be no more sea, and apparently, the New Jerusalem will hover over the earth.
      (Some other differences are brought out in the discussion below.)
 
c. The Revelation of the new heaven and the new earth, 65:17-25
17. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth:
and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever [in that] which I create:
for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
Here, as in Revelation 21, the Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom (in the New Heaven and New Earth)
are previewed together. It is as though two translucent pictures overlay one another. Both pictures are of one Kingdom. Their distinctions relate to time. The Millennial Kingdom on earth will endure for one thousand years, after which the earth and the heavens will be destroyed by fire (Rev 20:4-11; 2Pet 3:10-13). But the Kingdom of the LORD and of His Anointed will continue uninterrupted, for ever and ever, in the new heaven and earth. Psa 45:6; Dan 7:13,14; Rev 11:15; 22:5
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people:
and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 There shall be no more thence
{ie., from that time forward} an infant of days,
nor an old man that hath not filled his days:
for the child shall die an hundred years old;
but the sinner [being] an hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them];
and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat:
for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people,
and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble;
for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
In Isaiah 65, some elements of the picture fit the Millennial Kingdom better than the New Heaven and Earth.
For example:
  • long life (v.20), versus, 'no more death' (Rev 21:4).
  • sinners, accursed, die young (v.20), versus, no sinners present (Rev 21:8).
There are other differences. But many elements will be constant 'from that time forward' for eternity. cp. Isa 62:4,8,9; 25:8; 51:3,11; 60:20,21
24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock:
and dust [shall be] the serpent's meat.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
...before they call, I will answer...-
What comfort this assurance is to the believing Remnant! cp. Isa 64:12
...the wolf and the lamb... together...- cp. Isa 11:7-9; 35:9,10
The groaning of the creation will be ended. Rom 8:19-23
...dust the serpent's meat...- The serpent is symbolic of Satan.
Serpents never ate dust as food, nor will they in the future. Rather, this expression is figurative of Satan being brought down to the dust of death, in ignominy before those whom he influenced, and in defeat before the One against whom He rebelled. Gen 3:14,15; Prov 20:17; Psa 22:29; Isa 14:15-19; Rom 16:20; Rev 12:7-9; 20:1-3,10
they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain...-
The 'holy mountain' encompasses the whole of His Kingdom, which will be centered in Jerusalem (Mt. Zion). cp. Mic 4:3

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