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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 65

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-7

Invitation of the LORD

The answer of the LORD to the questions of the faithful remnant in the previous chapter can now be found in this chapter and especially in Isaiah 65:8-1 Samuel :. The condition of the people was so bad, that an explanation of the judgment that struck them is needed first. So stubbornly and ceaselessly they resisted the grace of God.

Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1-Exodus : in Romans 10 from the Septuagint. There we see that he uses Isaiah 65:1 to apply this verse to the nations (Romans 10:20). Under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, the great apostle of the nations used this verse for them, while quoting Isaiah 65:2 to illustrate the apostate state of Israel (Romans 10:21). By quoting both verses, Paul links the acceptance of the nations to the disobedience of Israel (cf. Acts 13:46).

The acceptance of the nations takes place now, in the time of grace. It will also take place in the future. Then the gospel of the kingdom will be brought and a multitude who no one can count will accept that gospel.

In the section that follows, Isaiah 65:3-Numbers : provide a terrible revelation of the idolatrous practices of God’s people, by which they offend the LORD. As a result, Israel does not come to receive the blessings that the nations have received.

To “sit among graves” probably has to do with a form of spiritism that tries to get in touch with the dead. They go to the cemeteries at night to consult evil spirits instead of asking for the LORD. In doing so they defile themselves in a gruesome way.

Those who commit these atrocities pride themselves, as usual, on their special holiness and keep the uninitiated at a distance by posing themselves as inaccessible to others (Isaiah 65:5). They claim a false holiness. Their whole behavior is a stench to the LORD. It fills the measure of their sins and calls for the most serious just repay (Isaiah 65:6-Judges :).

Here we see Phariseeism at full length reaching its lowest point in the crucifixion of Christ. Today this doctrine of holiness is also present in the professing Christianity. We see it there, where separation is demanded out of a claim of superior holiness, a ‘I am holier than you’ attitude.

All their evil deeds are recorded in a book of remembrance before Him (cf. Revelation 20:12). He forgets nothing of it and will punish every atrocity with an absolute just judgment. The same goes for the faithful who may also know that there is a book of remembrance (Malachi 3:16). In it all faithfulness is mentioned, which will also be rewarded with absolute righteousness.

Verses 8-10

A Remnant and Hope

Contrary to the foregoing, the LORD now makes mention of the believing remnant, of those who are His faithful servants, for the sake of whom He will not bring general destruction upon the people (Isaiah 65:8-2 Samuel :). Till these verses the LORD speaks of ‘them’ in distinction from the penitent who speaks out for Him. Now the LORD is going to speak about the remnant, why this is valuable to Him. Those who are a foreshadow of the God-fearing remnant in the future at the time of Jacob’s distress are like a ripe bunch of grapes in the midst of a depraved vineyard producing sour grapes. From this bunch of grapes will come new wine, which indicates the joy that this remnant is for God’s heart.

God sees this remnant in the midst of general unfaithfulness. In the midst of all unfaithfulness, the LORD will bring forth “offspring from Jacob, And an heir of My mountains” [that is the land of Israel, cf. Ezekiel 6:2-Leviticus :] from Judah; Even My chosen ones shall inherit it, And My servants will dwell there”. The heir from Judah is above all the Messiah, but also the remnant as united with Him. This remnant is a seed, a nucleus, which will grow into a new great nation in the realm of peace.

In this context, in Isaiah 65:10 two places are mentioned in particular. “Sharon” is the plain with rich meadows and famous for its flowers (Isaiah 35:2) and “the valley of Achor” is the valley of hope (Hosea 2:14). The whole area will become a garden of the LORD, a scene of fertility and productivity for those who humble themselves before God over the sin that has taken place. There is always hope for those who humble themselves in God’s presence and seek to walk in fear before Him (Psalms 33:18; Psalms 39:7).

Verses 11-16

The Unfaithful and the Faithful

In Isaiah 65:11 the prophecy returns to the guilty ones who are addressed threatening in Isaiah 65:1-Judges :. They have left the LORD. They do not think of worshiping Him. Instead, they have accepted the antichrist (John 5:43) and surrendered to idolatrous sacrificial meals in honor of the “beast”. Two objects of worship are called: “Fortune”, the god of fortune or Jupiter, and “Destiny”, the god of fate or Venus.

Thus, even now, there are countless people who believe that you should be lucky in life and that life is ruled by fate, either good or evil. They believe that gods like Fortune and Destiny control their lives. For one they set a table and for the other they fill cups with mixed wine. That table is an idol table and the drinking cup is that of the demons.

Paul may have thought of this when he writes down what we read in 1 Corinthians 10 (1 Corinthians 10:20-Ecclesiastes :). It is like an idolatrous unholy supper dedicated to demons. It is recognizable in Christianity where many heathen elements are included in the celebration of supper. This is particularly present in the roman catholic church, which is called “a dwelling place of demons” (Revelation 18:2).

Consistent with this, the LORD declares that He will assign or dispose of them – a word containing the thought of ‘fate’ – for the sword. The sword used by the LORD as an instrument is here the king of the North and his, Arab or Muslim, allies. Just as they bow to their images for their happiness, so they will have to kneel down to be slaughtered (Isaiah 65:12).

Through the same use of words, in this statement of the LORD resounds irony. He says that it is not fate destines their destiny, but He! And He has been so patient to them. He has called, but they have not answered. He has spoken, but they have refused to listen and deliberately chosen what displeases Him.

In Isaiah 65:13-Nehemiah : the LORD vividly presents the contrast between these faithless and His faithful who walk as He pleases. The unfaithful crowd did not listen when the LORD cried, but these faithful servants, those connected with the true Servant, the Servant of the LORD, did listen. The LORD stands up for His servants. With a “behold” he points the disobedient toward them. His servants shall eat and drink and rejoice and sing of joy, while those who turned away from the LORD shall suffer want, and shall know shame and fear and broken spirit (Isaiah 65:13-2 Chronicles :).

The name of the wicked will become a curse (Isaiah 65:15). This refers to the oath pronounced by the priest to a woman suspected of adultery, whom he had to make drink the bitter water bringing the curse (Numbers 5:21-Jeremiah :), because Israel acted like an adulteress. In contrast with this, the LORD will call His servants by another name. That name will be a blessing (Isaiah 65:16).

That blessing is linked to “the God of truth”, literally “the God of the amen. That points to God as the God Who fulfills His Word and will fulfill the promises of His covenant. For us and all believers of all times, all promises of God in Christ are “yes” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20; cf. Revelation 3:14). In the coming day, the redeemed people will be fixed in a powerful and uninterrupted connection with the LORD.

This makes clear the folly, meaninglessness, and sinfulness of going our own ways, carrying out our own intentions, and pursuing things that God does not like, instead of listening to His voice and rejoicing in doing His will. Through our walk with God He fulfills, and will fulfill, all the promises of His Word. He joyfully answers trusting in Him by adding an ‘amen’ to His certainty. The peace of an obedient heart and a trusting spirit are the ones who enjoy the sunshine of His face and the peace of holy fellowship with Him.

The LORD gives the assurance that the former distresses, i.e. the great tribulation, a time of distress for Jacob (Jeremiah 30:7), will be forgotten and hidden from His eyes (Isaiah 65:16). Instead, in the following verses He foreshadows the unspeakable blessing and joy that will be served to redeemed Israel in the coming millennial day.

Verses 17-25

Heaven and Earth Renewed

The new heavens and the new earth concern this creation which will be renewed (Isaiah 65:17; Psalms 104:30) when the curse has been lifted and the creation has been freed from corruption (Romans 8:19-Ecclesiastes :). It is a renewed state of heavens and earth created by God (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 51:16). It is a re-creation to the state of paradise. This old creation will become like new in the realm of peace.

The new heavens and the new earth mentioned in the New Testament come after the old creation is burned with fire (2 Peter 3:11-1 Chronicles :; Revelation 21:1). There it is about a material change, whereas here it is about a change of living conditions. There is also talk a new heaven because Satan will then have been cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-2 Kings :) and his power will have been removed from it forever. He will still rage on earth for a short time, but after three and a half years he will be locked up in the abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-Leviticus :).

Isaiah speaks of new heavens and a new earth as an area of unparalleled blessing. There will be no more reflection on the former oppressions, such as the great tribulation. For the creation of a pure heart (Psalms 51:10) the same word is used as for the creation of new heavens and a new earth. This pure heart must absolutely precede the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; cf. Galatians 6:15).

When the LORD establishes His kingdom of peace and righteousness, He will fulfill what is written in the following verses. It is a section that perhaps more than any other part of Scripture describes the prosperity and blessing of that coming time. This description of the Messianic realm of peace is the fulfillment of all promises made to Israel. The LORD calls us to rejoice and rejoice forever in what He is about to create regarding Jerusalem on earth (Isaiah 65:18). It will no longer be a mourning city, but a city of joy.

This joy is also the own joy of the LORD in a situation established by Him (Isaiah 65:19). Where His joy is heard, there is no room for sorrow or struggle. Though there will still be death and sin, evil will be under His absolute control and an immediate judgment will follow open sin (Isaiah 65:20; Psalms 101:8; Zephaniah 3:5). This is also proof that the new heavens and the new earth of the realm of peace are not yet the perfect state of eternity.

The longevity of the earliest times of human history will be back. “The youth … at the age of one hundred” indicates a slowing down of the aging process. If someone will die at that age, he should be considered to have been struck by the curse of God because of a sin. In any case, the born-again believers will complete the thousand years. They live longer than the people before the flood, of whom Methuselah – as far as Scripture tells us – was the longest living with 969 years (Genesis 5:27).

The following promises, in Isaiah 65:21-:, give the assurance that His people will rejoice in the results of their work. They will reap the fruits of their labor and enjoy them themselves. The harvest will not fall into the hands of plundering enemies. The duration of their lives will be the same as that of trees that grow centuries old. They will be a lineage blessed by the LORD and their children will share with them what they enjoy, without being taken away by a premature death (cf. Job 21:8).

The LORD declares that he shall answer them before they call, and that He will hear them before they speak (Isaiah 65:24). The prayers are answered directly because they are the expression of His thoughts (cf. Isaiah 30:19). They emerge from the fellowship with Him that will be there then. Often there is now a certain time between the prayer and the answer given (cf. Daniel 9:20-Isaiah :), but this will no longer be the case. This provides a striking testimony of what will be the result of the personal presence of the LORD in their midst.

There will also be a change in the nature of predatory animals (Isaiah 65:25). The condition described here is not the result of evolution, but of the power of the Messiah. The conditions in nature are still in disarray now, but then the wolf and the lamb will graze together. The food of the cow will also be the food of the lion.

This section recalls in a condensed form what the prophet said earlier (Isaiah 11:6-1 Samuel :). This is another proof of the unity between the two main parts of the book which is disputed by liberal theologians.

Exception in this section is the serpent that will have dust to food (Genesis 3:14). The serpent will continue to go on its stomach. Not everything in the realm of peace participates in blessing. The serpent continues to refer to Satan. But the serpent will no longer be able to do any harm, for everything is under the control of the ruling Messiah.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 65". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-65.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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