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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 65

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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.

In Isaiah 64:9 their plea was, "We are all thy people." In answer, God declares that others (Gentiles) would be taken into covenant with Him, while His ancient people would be rejected. The Jews were slow to believe this; hence, Paul says (Romans 10:20) that Isaiah was "very bold" in advancing so unpopular a sentiment. 'But Isaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.' Isaiah implies what Paul states (Romans 2:28; Romans 9:6-7; Romans 11:1-31), that "they are not all (in opposition to the Jews' plea, Isaiah 64:9) Israel which are of Israel." God's reason for so severely dealing with Israel is not changeableness in Him (cf. their plea "in those is continuance," Isaiah 64:5), but sin in them (Isaiah 65:2-7). Yet the whole nation shall not be destroyed, but only the wicked; a remnant shall be saved (Isaiah 65:8-16). There shall be finally universal blessedness to Isr ael, such as they had prayed for (Isaiah 65:17-25).

I am sought of (them that) asked not (for me) (Hebrew, nidrashtiy (H1875)) - 'I have granted access unto me to them who once asked not for me,' etc. (so Ezekiel 14:3, "Should I be inquired of;" Ephesians 2:18).

I am found of (them that) sought me not - formerly: Romans 10:20 readers this, "I was made manifest." As an instance of the sentiment in the clause, "I am sought," etc., see John 12:21; of the sentiment in this clause, Acts 9:5. Compare the two cases, the finder of treasure in the field, who was not looking for it, and the merchant seeking goodly pearls, who found the one pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46). Compare as to the Gentile converts, Ephesians 2:12-13.

Behold me - as your Saviour (Isaiah 45:22).

Nation ... not called by my name - i:e., the Gentiles. God retorts in their own words (Isaiah 63:19): their plea as Nation ... not called by my name - i:e., the Gentiles. God retorts in their own words (Isaiah 63:19): their plea as being exclusively "called by His name" will not avail; for God's Gospel-invitation is not so exclusive (Romans 9:25; Romans 1:16).

Verse 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;

Spread out my hands - inviting them earnestly (Proverbs 1:24).

All the day - continually, late and early (Jeremiah 7:13).

Unto a rebellious people - Israel, whose rebellion was the occasion of God's turning to the Gentiles, as Paul states in quoting these words (Romans 10:21; Romans 11:11-12; Romans 11:15).

Which walketh in a way (that was) not good - i:e., the very reverse of good, very bad (Ezekiel 36:31).

Verse 3

A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;

A people that provoketh me to anger continually - answering to "all the day" (Isaiah 65:2). God was continually inviting them, and they continually offending Him (Deuteronomy 32:21).

To my face. They made no attempt to hide their sin (Isaiah 3:9). Compare "before me," Exodus 20:3.

That sacrificeth in gardens - (note, Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 66:17; Leviticus 17:5.)

And burneth incense upon altars of brick - Hebrew, bricks. God had commanded His altars to be of unhewn stone (Exodus 20:25). This was in order to separate them, even in external respects, from idolaters; also, as all chiseling was forbidden, they could not inscribe superstitious symbols on them, as the pagan did. Bricks were more easily so inscribed than stone: hence, their use for the cuneiform inscriptions at Babylon, and also for idolatrous altars. Some, not so well, have supposed that the "bricks" here mean the flat brick-paved roofs of houses on which they sacrificed to the sun, etc. (2 Kings 23:12; Jeremiah 19:13.)

Verse 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;

Which remain among the graves - namely, for purposes of necromancy, as if to hold converse with the dead (Isaiah 8:19-20: cf. Mark 5:3); or, for the sake of purifications, usually performed at night among sepulchres, to appease the manes (Maurer).

And lodge in the monuments - Hebrew, 'pass the night in hidden recesses' ( banªtsuwriym (H5341)); either the idol's inmost shrines ('consecrated precincts') (Horsley), where they used to sleep, in order to have divine communications in dreams (Jerome and Vulgate); or better, on account of the parallel "graves," sepulchral caves. So the Septuagint, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac (Maurer).

Which eat swine's flesh. To eat it at all was contrary to God's law (Leviticus 11:7); but it much increased their guilt that they ate it in idolatrous sacrifices (cf. Isaiah 66:17). Varro ('Re Rust,' 2: 4) says, that swine were first used in sacrifices: the Latins sacrificed a pig to Ceres; it was also offered on occasion of treaties and marriages.

And broth of abominable (things is in) their vessels - so called from the 'pieces' (margin) or fragments of bread over which the broth was poured (Gesenius): such broth, made of swine's flesh, offered in sacrifice, was thought to be especially acceptable, to the idol, and was used in magic rites. Or, 'fragments (pieces) of abominable foods,' etc. This fourth clause explains more fully the third, as the second does the first (Maurer).

Is in - rather, literally, 'is their vessels;' i:e., constitute their vessels' contents. The Jews, in our Lord's days, and ever since the return from Babylon, have been free from idolatry. Still the imagery from idolatrous abominations, as being the sin most loathsome in God's eyes, and that most prevalent in Isaiah's time, is employed to describe the foul sin of Israel in all ages, culminating in their killing Messiah, and still rejecting Him. For before God "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:23).

Verse 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.

Which say, stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou - (Matthew 9:11; Luke 5:30; Luke 18:11; Jude 1:19.) Applicable to the hypocritical self-justifiers of our Lord's time.

These (are) a smoke in my nose - alluding to the smoke of their self-righteous sacrifices. The fire of God's wrath was kindled at the sight, and exhibited itself in the smoke that breathed forth from His nostrils; in the Hebrew, the nose is the seat of anger: and the nostrils distended in wrath, as it were, breathe forth smoke (Rosenmuller). (Psalms 18:8.)

Verse 6

Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,

Behold, (it is) written before me - it is decreed by me-namely, what follows (Job 13:26) (Maurer); or, their guilt is recorded before me (cf. Daniel 7:10; Revelation 20:12; Malachi 3:16).

I will not keep silence (Psalms 50:3 ), but will recompense ... into their bosom - (Psalms 79:12; Jeremiah 32:18; Luke 6:38.) The Orientals used the loose fold of the garment falling on "the bosom" or lap as a receptacle for carrying things. The sense thus is, I will repay their sin so abundantly that the hand will not be able to receive it; it will need the spacious fold on the bosom to contain it (Rosenmuller). Rather it is, 'I will repay it to the very person from whom it has emanated.' Compare "God did render the evil of the men of Shechem upon their heads" (Judges 9:57; Ps. 7:19 ) (Gesenius). I prefer combining both ideas, recompense abundantly, and to the very person from whom the evil has come.

Verse 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.

Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together. Their sin had been accumulating from age to age, until God at last repaid it in full.

Burned incense upon the mountains - (Isaiah 57:7; Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 20:27-28; Hosea 4:13.)

Therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom - "your" had preceded: here we find "their." From speaking to, He speaks of them; this implies growing alienation from them, and greater distance.

Work - the full recompence of their work (so Isaiah 49:4).

Verse 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.

As the new wine is found in the cluster - As if some grapes having good wine-producing juice in them be found in a cluster which the vine-dresser was about to throw away as bad.

And (one) saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing (is) in it. "A blessing" - i:e., good wine-producing juice (cf. Judges 9:13; Joel 2:14).

So will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. God will spare the godly 'remnant,' while the ungodly mass of the nation shall be destroyed (Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 10:21; Isaiah 11:11-16).

My servants - the godly remnant. But Horsley, 'for the sake of my servant, Messiah.' So the Septuagint and Arabic translate singular.

Verse 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.

And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob - "the holy seed" (Isaiah 6:13); a posterity from Jacob, destined to repossess the Holy Land, forfeited by the sin of the former Jews.

And out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains - Jerusalem and the rest of Judea, peculiarly God's (cf. Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 14:32).

And mine elect shall inherit it - the Holy Land.

Elect - (Isaiah 65:15; Isaiah 65:22.)

Verse 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.

Sharon - (notes, Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2.)

Achor - meaning trouble: a valley near Jericho, so called from the trouble caused to Israel by Achan's sin (Joshua 7:24).

Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me. "The valley of Achor," proverbial for whatever caused calamity, shall become proverbial for joy and prosperity (Hosea 2:15).

Verse 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.

But ye (are) they that ... forget my holy mountain - Moriah, on which the temple was.

That prepare a table for that troop - rather, Gad, the Babylonian god of fortune, the planet Jupiter answering to Baal or Bel. The Arabs called it 'the Greater Good Fortune;' and the planet Venus, answering to Meni, 'the Lesser Good Fortune,' (Gesenius, Kimchi, etc.) [So the Syriac and Vulgate translate, 'Fortunae;' the Septuagint, too daimonioo; the Chaldaic, to idols.] Tables were laid out for their idols with all kinds of viands (called by the Romans in subsequent ages lectisternia), and a cup containing a mixture of wine and honey, in Egypt especially on the last day of the year (Jerome). The Apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon (Isaiah 65:3, etc.) mentions such feasts as offered to Bel.

Drink offering - rather, mixed drink.

Number - rather, meniy (H4507) (from maanah (H4487), to assign, or number, to which Isaiah 65:12 alludes). The Arabic term for fate is akin. As goddess of fortune, she was thought to number the fates of men. Vitringa understands Gad to be the sun, Meni the moon, or Ashtaroth or Astarte (1 Kings 11:33; Jeremiah 7:18). The Greek meen (G3375), a month, or the moon, is akin. Buxtorf understands it as the English version, the "number" of the stars, which were worshipped as gods. The Arabs, just before Muhammed's time, worshipped an idol. 'Manah.'

Verse 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.

Therefore will I number you to the sword. "Number you" - doom you: alluding to the "number," as Meni (Isaiah 65:11) means. Retribution in kind, the punishment answering to the sin (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:14-17).

Because when I called, ye did not answer. "I called," though 'none had called' upon me (Isaiah 64:7), yet even then none 'answered' (Proverbs 1:24). Contrast with this God and His people's mutual fellowship in prayer (Isaiah 65:24).

Verse 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:

Behold, my servants shall eat - enjoy all blessings from me (Song of Solomon 5:1).

But ye shall be hungry - (Amos 4:6; Amos 8:11.) This may refer to the siege of Jerusalem under Titus, when 1,100,000 are said to have perished by famine: thus Isaiah 65:15 will refer to God's people, without distinction of Jew and Gentile receiving 'another name'-namely, that of Christians (Houbigant). A further fulfillment may still remain, just before the creation of the 'new heavens and earth,' as the context, Isaiah 65:17, implies.

Verse 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.

Shall howl - (Isaiah 15:2; Matthew 8:12: cf. John 16:20.)

Verse 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:

Your name for a curse. The name of 'Jew' has been for long a formula of execration (cf. Jeremiah 29:22). If one wishes to curse another, he can utter nothing worse than this, 'God make thee what the Jew is!' Contrast the formula, Genesis 48:20.

Unto my chosen - the elect Church, gathered from Jews and Gentiles, called by 'another name,' Christians ( Acts 11:26 ). However, as "my chosen," or "elect,"

For the Lord God shall slay thee - unbelieving Israel. Isaiah here speaks of God, whereas in the preceding sentences God Himself spake. This change of persons marks, without design, how completely the prophet realized God with him and in him, so that he passes without formally announcing it from God's words to his own, and vice versa, both alike being from God.

Verse 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.

That he who - rather, "He who," etc.

Blesseth himself in the earth - (Psalms 72:17; Jeremiah 4:2.)

Shall bless himself in the God of truth - very God, as opposed to false gods: Hebrew, Amen: the very name of Messiah (2 Corinthians 1:20; Revelation 3:14), faithful to His promises (John 1:17; John 6:32). Real, substantial, spiritual, eternal, as opposed to the shadowy types of the law.

He that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth - God alone shall be appealed to as God (Isaiah 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:13; Psalms 63:11).

Because the former troubles are forgotten - i:e., sins, provocations (Lowth). Rather, calamities ( hatsaarowt (H6869 ), straits) caused by your sins: so far from these visiting you again, the very remembrance of them is "hid from mine eyes" by the magnitude of the blessings I will confer on you (Isaiah 65:17 , etc.) (Maurer).

Verse 17

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

For, behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth. As Caleb inherited the same land which his feet trod on (Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:9), so Messiah and His saints shall inherit the renovated earth which once they trod, while defiled by the enemy (Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 66:22 ; Ezekiel 21:27 ; Psalms 2:8 ; Psalms 37:11 ).

And the former shall not be remembered - (note on "troubles," Isaiah 65:16.) The words here answer to "the former troubles are forgotten," etc. The former sorrows of the earth, under the fall, shall be so far from recurring, that their very remembrance shall be obliterated by the many mercies I will bestow on the new earth ( Revelation 21:4-27). This prophecy uses language which, while fulfilled on the millennial earth in a degree, shall receive its full accomplishment only in the regenerated earth, which shall succeed the post-millennial conflagration (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1; Hebrews 12:26-28).

Verse 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.

Rejoice forever (in that) which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing (Isaiah 51:11 ) - spiritually ( 1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Verse 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.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem-and joy in my people - ( Isaiah 62:5.)

The voice of weeping shall be no more ( Isaiah 25:7-8 ; Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4) - primarily foretold of Jerusalem; secondarily, of all the redeemed.

Verse 20

There shall be no more thence 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.

The longevity of men in the first age of the world shall be enjoyed again.

There shall be no more thence - from that time forward.

An infant of days - i:e., an infant who shall only complete a few days; short-lived.

Nor an old man that hath not filled his days - none shall die without attaining a full old age.

For the child shall die an hundred years old - i:e., 'he that dieth an hundred years old shall be thought to die a mere child' (Lowth).

But the sinner, (being) an hundred years old, shall be accursed - rather, as there is no adversative force nor opposition, but rather the second clause continues the idea in the first, 'and the sinner that dieth at an hundred years shall be deemed accursed' - i:e., his death at so early an age, which in those days the hundredth year will be regarded, just as if it were mere childhood, shall be deemed the effect of God's special visitation in wrath (Rosenmuller). This passage proves that the millennial age to come on earth, though much superior to the present, will not be a perfect state. Sin and death shall have place in it (cf. Revelation 20:7-8 ), but much less frequently than now.

Verse 21

And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

They shall build houses, and inhabit them ... - (note, Isaiah 62:8 ; Amos 9:14 .)

Verse 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.

They shall not build, and another inhabit - They shall not experience the curse pronounced, Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:30.

For as the days of a tree - among the most long-lived of objects in nature.

(Are) the days of my people - they shall live as long as the trees they "plant" (cf. Isaiah 61:3 , end; Psalms 92:12).

Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands (Hebrew, yªbaluw ( H1086), from baalah ( H1086), to be old) - consume, wear out: they shall long live to enjoy the last of it (Isaiah 62:9).

Verse 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.

They shall not ... bring forth for trouble - literally, for terror ( labehaalaah (H928)); i:e., 'They shall not bring forth children for a sudden death' (Leviticus 26:16; Jeremiah 15:8).

For they (are) the seed of the blessed of the Lord - (Isaiah 61:9.)

And their offspring with them - (Hosea 9:12 .) 'Their offspring shall be with themselves' (Maurer); not 'brought forth' only to be cut off by 'sudden death' (see the parallel clause).

Verse 24

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Contrast Isaiah 64:7, "none ... calleth," etc.; and note, Isaiah 65:12, 'I called, ye did not answer.' Maurer translates, 'They shall hardly (literally, not yet) call when (literally, and) I will answer; they shall be still speaking when I will hear' (Psalms 32:5; Daniel 9:20-21 ).

Verse 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.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together - (notes, Isaiah 11:6-9 .)

And dust (shall be) the serpent's meat - rather, 'but dust,' etc. The curse shall remain on the serpent (Horsley). (Genesis 3:14; Micah 7:17.) To lick the dust is figurative of the utter and perpetual degradation of Satan and his emissaries (Isaiah 49:23; Psalms 72:9). He shall be bound a thousand years ( Revelation 20:2 ), an earnest of his final and everlasting doom after the millennium (Revelation 20:10 ). Satan fell self-tempted, therefore no atonement was contrived for him, as there was for man, who fell by his temptation (Jude 1:6 ; John 8:44 ). From his special connection with the earth and man, it has been conjectured that the exciting cause of his rebellion was God's declaration that human nature was to be raised into union with the Godhead: this was 'the truth' concerning the person of the Son of God, which 'he abode not in.' It galled his pride that a lower race was to be raised to that which had aspired to ( 1 Timothy 3:6). How exultingly he might say, when man fell through him, 'God would raise manhood into union with Himself: I have brought it down below the beasts by sin!' At that very moment and spot he was told that the seed of the abhorred race, man, should bruise his head ( 1 John 3:8). He was raised up for this, to show forth God's glory (Exodus 9:16; Romans 1:7). In his unfallen state he may have been God's vicegerent over the earth and the animal kingdom before man: this will account for his assuming the form of a serpent, (Genesis 3:1-24 .) Man succeeded to that office ( Genesis 2:19-20), but forfeited it by sin, whence Satan became "prince of this world:" Jesus Christ supplants the usurper; and as "Son of man" regains the lost inheritance (Psalms 8:4-8 ). The steps in Satan's overthrow are these: he is cast out, first, from heaven ( Revelation 12:7-9) on earth; next he is bound a thousand years (Revelation 20:2-3); finally, he is cast into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:10 ).

Remarks: The rebellion of Israel, notwithstanding God's continued long-suffering, brought upon the nation at last rejection by God. Then the Lord gave His gracious invitation to the Gentiles, who had not previously been 'called by His name,' to "behold" Him as their Saviour, and so to take the high place as His people which had heretofore been held by the Jews. So now, among the members of the professing Church, when the most highly favoured as to privileges fail to use them, God reveals Himself to those who had not professed to seek Him: He thus magnifies His grace is being 'found of them that sought Him not.'

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 65". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-65.html. 1871-8.
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