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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 65

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-7

Isa 65:1-7

Isaiah 65:1-7

This chapter, along with the final chapter, deals with a number of different subjects, regarding some of the most remarkable of the themes Isaiah has discussed throughout the prophecy.

Regarding the divisions of this chapter, we have (1) God’s reply to the complaints visible in Israel’s prayer for deliverance (Isaiah 65:1-7); (2) regardless of the total destruction awaiting the irreligious majority, a faithful remnant shall be redeemed (Isaiah 65:8-12); (3) a mingling of threats to the unfaithful and promises to the faithful (Isaiah 65:13-16); (4) a glorious depiction of the age of Messiah (Isaiah 65:17-25).

Isaiah 65:1-7

"I am enquired of by them that asked not for me; I am found by them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, that walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens, and burning incense upon bricks; that sit among the graves, and lodge in the secret places; that eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things in their vessels; that 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 day. Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, yea, I will recompense into their bosom, your own iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith Jehovah, that have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemer me upon the hills: therefore will I first measure their work into their bosom."

Kidner understood the first two verses here as, "An answer to the complaint of Isaiah 63:19.” This, of course does not deny the application of the passage to the call of the Gentiles (Romans 10:20). There is also an answer to the complaint of Isaiah 64:9 that God has "hidden his face," making himself hard to find. As McGuiggan noted, "Why, God had even been found by people who did not even ask for him .” No, the problem lay not with God but with the Jews.

Hailey also observed that there is also an answer to the plea of Israel that they are "all" God’s people. This is capable of two different meanings, both of which are erroneous: (1) that Israel constituted the totality of God’s people, and (2) that all of the fleshly nation were indeed the people of God. Neither proposition was true, except in the rather loose sense that God created all men. Hailey wrote: "Jehovah’s reply is that he is rejecting them (Israel)," and that the Gentiles will also be called as God’s people.

These seven verses are, "A castigation of the rebellious idolaters among them (which were the majority of the nation) and a warning that God’s punishment must one day fall. However the innocent are not to suffer with the guilty (Isaiah 65:8-12).” In no other section of Isaiah does the divided state of Israel appear any more sharply than here. Throughout the prophecy, we have repeatedly stressed the Two Israels to whom Isaiah is addressed, these being, The Reprobate Majority, and the Faithful Remnant. Cheyne called them, "The polytheistic party, and the true believers.”

In somewhat stronger terms, Archer referred to these verses: "This is a scathing indictment of the hypocritical Jewish nation of Isaiah’s day, professing to be a holy and righteous people (Isaiah 65:5), and yet practicing all of the execrable abominations of the heathen. This description would be altogether inappropriate for the post-exilic Israel, which had abandoned idolatry forever.”

"I have spread out my hands all day ..." (Isaiah 65:2). "This means that God had invited them sincerely.” Cheyne stated that it was, "A gesture of prayer. What a condescension on God’s part!”

"Burning incense upon bricks ..." (Isaiah 65:3). All of the things mentioned here were associated with idolatry, and the pagan shrines in the gardens and groves of the heathen. The command of God was that sacrifices should be offered upon altars of unhewn stone (Exodus 20:24-25) and at the place where God had recorded his name. Sacrificing upon bricks was therefore wrong on two counts; it was in the wrong place, and the altar was not properly constructed.

"Continually ... and to my face ..." (Isaiah 65:3). "There was no attempt at concealment;” and like the antediluvian, there was no intermission in their sinful deeds. They were wicked all the time, continually.

"That sit among the graves ..." (Isaiah 65:4). This was an action associated with witchcraft, necromancy, seeking "familiar spirits" among the dead, and all kinds of shameful activity connected with idolatry. Also, "The verse alludes to the custom of sleeping in sepulchres or vaults of idol temples to learn the future through dreams.”

"That eat swine’s flesh ..." (Isaiah 65:4). This was specifically forbidden to Jews in Leviticus 11:7; and the mention of this here is proof that the period of Jewish history in view here is positively pre-exilic; because after the exile, the Jews had renounced idolatry and all such things for ever. This is elaborated in the apocryphal book of 2Maccabees (chapters 6,7), where is recorded the names of many Jewish martyrs who refused to bow to the edict of Antiochus Epiphanes who attempted to force Jews to demonstrate their renunciation of their religion by eating swine’s flesh.

"That say, Stand by thyself ... for I am holier than thou ..." (Isaiah 65:5) is a reference to some idolatrous practice the renegade Jews had entered into, "A heathen mystery ... Idolatry was bad enough, but that heathen idolaters should assume superiority over God’s `holy ones’ was worse.”

"I will recompense, yea, I will recompense ..." (Isaiah 65:6) The verbs here are repeated, after the Hebrew manner of strong emphasis. Jehovah had just concluded in the previous verses a list of the excessively wicked and abominable deeds of the Israelites, which constitutes a list of particulars, explaining why God would most surely punish them.

"That have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills ..." (Isaiah 65:7). "The hills and mountains here are a Palestinian feature,” It was a specialty of the Canaanite Baalism that many of their shrines were located on high hills and mountains, especially if a grove of trees was available in such locations. That is the reason that such shrines were generally called "high places." The orgiastic, licentious rites associated with those fertility cults were as shameful and debasing as anything ever associated with pagan worship. There can be no doubt whatever, that the attractiveness of such worship for the Jews was fundamentally that of sexual gratification.

Isaiah 65:1-7 SIN REPAID: It may have appeared up to this point in Isaiah’s prophecy that he was pronouncing doom upon the whole nation. However, the prayer in chapter 64 shows that there was a small remnant of people who had turned to the Lord for help. This small group had the testimony of Isaiah “bound up and sealed” among them and were the prophet’s disciples. They had turned to “the teaching and to the testimony” (cf. Isaiah 8:16-20). Chapter 65 is the verification that Isaiah had been declaring all along the whole nation was not to be doomed but that there would be a sifting and God would indeed answer the prayer for deliverance by the remnant. Those who blaspheme the Lord will be recompensed with judgment; those who trust Him will become a “seed” and provide heirs to Judah’s promises.

The apostle Paul helps us understand that these final verses of Isaiah’s book have to do with the Messiah’s kingdom (the church) for he quotes Isaiah 65:1-2 in Romans 10:20-21 as fulfilled at the preaching of the gospel and its reception by Gentiles. Isaiah is predicting that a refining, sorting, culling process is going to take place as a consequence of the Babylonian captivity and the subsequent centuries of the Jewish “indignation” (cf. our comments Daniel, College Press, pages 343–353 and 429–435). From the Babylonian captivity, through the restoration of the Jewish commonwealth, through the Seleucid domination and the Maccabean revolt, and through the early Roman domination the Jewish nation would undergo a spiritual sifting until thoroughly prepared (with a remnant of godly servants like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, Anna, etc.) for the new creation (Isaiah 66:18-24) (the Messiah’s Zion). This sifting must take place because of the abominable rebellion of a majority of Israel in Isaiah’s day. Many of these rebels will never find Jehovah even though He has plead with them (through prophets and leaders) for century after century. They would not give up their idols. So it is predicted that God will have a people turn to Him in the future who had never inquired about Him before. This will be the goiy (singular of goiym), Isaiah 65:1 substantiates Ephesians 3:1-6 that Jehovah did not in ancient times make known to the Gentiles the messianic program as He did to the Jews. But Isaiah 65:1 predicts a time when the Gentiles would find Him; the Gentiles will behold Him and they will be called by His name. The time will come, says Isaiah, when God will reveal Himself and invite the Gentiles, “behold Me, behold Me!” That invitation will be through the preaching of the gospel of Christ says Paul in Romans 10:14-21.

But until the time comes for Jehovah to open the messianic kingdom to the Gentiles, He “spreads out His hands all the day to a rebellious people.” Jehovah was more than patient, more than merciful, more than just with Israel. Century after century He plead with them through His prophets (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:18-19; 2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Jeremiah 7:13; Luke 11:50, etc.). But they would not listen (cf. Hosea 11:1-2; Hosea 12:10-14; Micah 2:6-11; Isaiah 30:8-11; Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 6:16-19; Jeremiah 7:27-28; Jeremiah 8:5-6, etc.). The Hebrew word soorer is translated rebellious but is more specifically, stubborn. They have their own ways and their own ideas and they stubbornly refuse God’s thought and ways. With centuries of evidence behind them that God’s ways result in good and man’s result in evil, they still reject God’s ways! The Hebrew phrase in verse three, ha’am hammake’isiym, is literally, “the people, the ones angering me” to My face continually. The Hebrew word is actually stronger than provoke—it emphasizes anger! The sin of Israel here depicted is insensitive and blatant. Knowing it angers Jehovah, they persist; not only do they persist, they invent new ways to provoke Him.

1. Sacrificing in gardens: making the ritual offerings in the groves of trees and flower gardens dedicated to pagan idols (see comments Isaiah 57:1-8).

2. Burning incense upon bricks: incense is usually associated with prayer. They were praying to idols by burning incense upon brick altars.

3. Sit among graves, and lodge in the secret places: apparently this refers to the practice of trying to contact the dead. The Hebrew word loon is translated lodge in in secret places but means simply, lodge all night. They were practicing the common pagan ritual of necromancy which was strictly forbidden by their scriptures (cf. Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:3; Isaiah 57:9). Jerome refers to a practice called “incubation” in the temples of the idols “where they were accustomed to lie upon the skins of the victims stretched upon the ground, to gather future events from their dreams.”

4. Eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things: Swine’s flesh was offered by the heathen in sacrifice to their idols and then eaten as a ritual of dedication and holiness (cf. 2 Maccabees 6:18-22; 2 Maccabees 7:1-2). It was forbidden for the Hebrews (cf. Leviticus 11:7 ff; Deuteronomy 14:8). The Hebrew word pigguliym is translated abominable things and according to Ezekiel 4:14; Leviticus 7:18; Leviticus 19:7 it is things that are legally unclean. Young calls it “rotten” things; Keil and Delitzsch says the word means “a stench, a putrefaction, broth made either of such kinds of flesh or such parts of the body as were forbidden by the law.” It was a disgusting and revolting practice evidently a part of pagan cultic worship.

Those who became initiates into the pagan mystery cults did so through secret rituals and orders. They went out in the dark of night to the groves and hilltops; they talked in a cryptic language about mysterious rites and ceremonies; they glanced and smiled knowingly when asked about their worship. All of this made the cult worshipers consider themselves the “in” group, the “wise” people, and, religiously above everyone else. Any person not a member of the cult was considered ignorant, unsophisticated and not one with whom to be associated. Therefore, they said (literally), “Be off to yourself,” that is, “Stay away from me, you do not know all the secret things I know and we just are not in the same class of people.” Such arrogance by men who have rejected goodness and purity for wickedness and rottenness vexes Jehovah (The absolutely righteous One) like the smoke smoldering from a garbage heap in the nostrils of a man.

The Hebrew word shillametiy comes from the root shalam which primarily means complete, entire, finish, make good, repay, or requite. It is translated in verse six recompense. The Hebrew kheygam is from khooq which means lap, or bosom. Jehovah has written down in His heavenly books the “bill of goods” on these profane, blasphemous people and He is going to pay them back and dump the whole mess into their laps. Sin pays wages (Romans 6:23). Jehovah has ordered His moral creation so that man and nature may “receive in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:28). When men plow iniquity, they reap injustice; when they sow falsehood, they eat the fruit of lies (cf. Hosea 10:13). God is not mocked, what a man sows, that shall he reap (Galatians 6:7-10). Generations of men reap the fruit of lies because they follow willingly in the lies of their ancestors (cf. 2 Chronicles 33:9; 2 Kings 24:3; Jeremiah 15:4 for the classic illustration of this in Manasseh). The idolatry and blasphemy characterized by Isaiah here was practiced by the Hebrews from the days of Solomon (cf. Hosea 4:13; Isaiah 57:7; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6 ff; Jeremiah 17:2, etc.). Those who “dance” must “pay the fiddler.” Israel and Judah paid the consequences of their idolatrous indulgence with sword, pestilence and famine for centuries and centuries until they finally filled up the cup of their iniquity by rejecting Jehovah’s Servant, the Messiah, and forfeited their birthright, lost their national identity and surrendered their only salvation.

Verses 8-12

Isa 65:8-12

Isaiah 65:8-10

"Thus saith Jehovah, 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’ sake, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains; and my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me."

The terse message of these verses is: Yes, Israel shall indeed be destroyed, but not all of them. Those who shall inherit God’s holy mountain shall be those, and only those, who have "sought" the Lord (Isaiah 65:10).

"Destroy it not ..." (Isaiah 65:8). "The vintagers when they see a cluster with only a few sound grapes in it say, `Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it,’ so for the sake of those who are faithful to God," he will not destroy all of Israel. Kidner noted that in this passage Isaiah united the themes of "The Righteous Remnant," and that of "The Vineyard," joining many other scholars in stressing the evidences of the unity of the whole prophecy. On this verse, Hailey wrote that, "The Canaanites were cast out of the land because of moral corruption (Deuteronomy 9:3-5); and Israel would retain it only upon the condition of their faithfulness to God (Leviticus 18:24-30; Deuteronomy 4:37-40).”

Isaiah 65:11-12

"But ye that forsake Jehovah, and forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled wine unto Destiny; I will destine 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 ye did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not."

Here we have an outcropping of the Jews propensity for worshipping "the host of heaven" (Acts 7:42). "The planet Jupiter was worshipped as the god Fortune; and the planet Venus was worshipped, sometimes as Second Fortune, or as Destiny.” "In due course, those who worship Destiny will indeed receive their well-merited destiny. Note the word-play.” Note the stern words, "I will destine you to the sword."

Isaiah 65:8-12 SEED REPLANTED: Out of the captivities Jehovah will refine a small remnant. When the husbandman of a vineyard gathers clusters of grapes he does not throw away a whole cluster if he sees some good grapes in it. So Jehovah saw in this rotten nation a few good people who would be a blessing to the world and form the messianic remnant. The Lord did not destroy the whole nation, (cf. Jeremiah 46:28). Many died of famine, pestilence and the sword during the Babylonian attacks (606, 597, 586 and 582). Many fled into the hills and caves of Palestine from the Babylonian attacks and died there of starvation. Jeremiah says there were approximately 4,600 Jews taken back to Babylon as captives. The number is 10,000 in 2 Kings 24:14 plus some additional ones later (2 Kings 25:8-17). A few of the very poor and physically infirm were left in Judea to farm the land. In addition, some whom the emperor of Babylon gave special favors, such as Jeremiah, and roving bands of deserting soldiers also remained. Altogether, about 15,000 were deported to Babylon from Judea. The Assyrian emperor, Sargon, noted on an inscription (discovered in 1842 by Botta) that he took 27,290 Jews captive from the northern ten tribes (Israel) when that nation fell in 722 B.C. About 42,000 people were taken captive between 722 B.C. and 582 B.C. (140 years). Some 50,000 returned at the release of the captives granted by the edict of Cyrus (536 B.C.). From the fall of the northern ten tribes (Israel) to the return to Palestine was 186 years. The Hebrew nation was begun at the exodus with approximately 2,500,000 people (see Old Testament History, Smith & Fields, College Press, pg. 155). After its purging through Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, it was begun again with 50,000. That is about a two-percent remnant!

With those statistics in mind, one is much more impressed with the promise of Jehovah to Isaiah concerning the “holy seed” (cf. Isaiah 6:13). Jehovah is going to bring forth a seed out of Jacob (Isaiah 65:9) and this seed shall be replanted in the land and it shall produce servants to inherit the spiritual blessings which shall come through the messianic kingdom. Isaiah has a goal in mind for the seed of Jacob beyond the physical return of the Jews to Judea because the seed is to consist not only of Jews but of Gentiles as well (Isaiah 65:1)! Those who came to Jesus, the Messiah, inherited the rest God had promised His chosen (cf. Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:13). Those who came to Zion, the N.T. church, inherited Jehovah’s mountain (cf. Hebrews 12:22-29). Jehovah promised to multiply the seed to inherit the messianic promises (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-17; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 54:3; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 66:22; Jeremiah 33:19-22, etc.). And the seed was multiplied and did include the Gentiles (cf. Romans 4:1-23; Romans 8:12-17; Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:28-29).

The restful, prosperous pastoral scene is figurative of the spiritual rest and prosperity that will be inherited by the people of the Good Shepherd (cf. Ezekiel 34:1-31; Jeremiah 33:14-26; Hosea 3:5; Joel 3:1-3; Amos 9:11-15; Obadiah 1:21; Micah 5:2-4; Zephaniah 3:9-20; Zechariah 12:1 to Zechariah 14:21). Sharon ’s plain was well known for its fertility and Achor is probably the same as the Wadi Kelt which descends through a deep ravine from the Judean hills and runs between steep banks south of the modern Jericho to the Jordan river. In all the five places where it is mentioned it is described as the ‘emek, the arable valley of Achor. Hosea pictures the comforting aspect of the terrible event for which the valley is famous (Achan’s execution, Joshua 7:24-26); it was a doorway of hope for chastened Israel (Hosea 2:15).

Gesenius identifies Fortune (Heb. gad) and Destiny (Heb. meniy) with Jupiter and Venus, the Greater and Lesser Good Fortunes of the astrologers. However, the ISBE (Vol. I, pg. 299) says, “. . . it is more probable that they are the two beautiful starclusters that stand on the head and the shoulder of the Bull at the old commencement of the zodiac . . . the Hyades and Pleiades . . . Both groups were considered traditionally as composed of seven stars; and the two names . . . taken together give the meaning of the ‘Fortunate Number,’ i.e., seven . . . The . . . spreading of the table and mingling the wine to Gad and Meniy at the beginning of the year to secure good fortune throughout its course, were therefore held about the time of the Passover, as if in parody, if indeed they were not a desecration of it; heathen rites added to one of the most solemn services of Jehovah.”

Jehovah will save a seed through the process of refining and purifying (cf. Malachi 3:1-4), but as for those who make a mockery of His commandments and think they can blaspheme Him by adding heathen rites to their worship, He will arrange for their destiny to be the slaughter of war. There is a very obvious sarcasm in the use of the word meniy (destiny) in Isaiah 65:12. The people worshiped and trusted in the god Destiny; Jehovah will show them who controls destiny! They will receive a destiny which they deserve, for when Jehovah called, they did not answer and when He commanded they did not (shama’ hear) obey. It is well to note here that God came to His people by words (a propositional revelation, not mystical and subjective) and those words were to be obeyed, not merely noticed or felt. It is also well to note that those to whom the revelation came had the freedom to choose and chose to disobey. The Hebrew syntax is interesting in the last phrase of Isaiah 65:12; the construction (“. . . that which I delighted not in, you chose”) puts emphasis on that in which Jehovah delighted not! The Lord is justified in His rejection of these people for they have, in fact, rejected, mocked and deliberately chosen against Him.

Verses 13-16

Isa 65:13-16

Isaiah 65:13-16

"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, 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 put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall wail for vexation of spirit. And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen; and the Lord Jehovah will slay thee; and he will call his servants by another name: so that he that 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."

Isaiah 65:13-14 here enumerates a number of contrasts between the blessings of God upon the righteous and the punishments of God upon the wicked. Also, in Isaiah 65:15, the ultimate fate of those who reject God will issue in their name’s becoming a curse. The thought is that, the name of the wicked nation has so defamed and degraded the name of Israel that God will have to invent an altogether New Name, called here "another name" for his people. Again we have that "here a little and there a little:" pattern of this prophet’s writings, this being the third passage where the "new name" is promised. See the special article under Isaiah 62:2.

Isaiah 65:13-14 NURTURED: Continuing the idea of a refined Zion and the contrast between the “good grapes and the bad grapes” the Lord now pictures the different consequences of the refining process. Those (even of the goiym who were not called by His name) who do find Him and call upon Him and become obedient servants, He will fill with spiritual nutrition growth and satisfaction. Of course, Isaiah is using “times coloring” here, i.e., writing of future spiritual things in physical terminology. The New covenant scriptures make it plain that God’s richest blessings are spiritual (cf. Ephesians 1:3, etc.). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6); those who seek the Bread of Life shall have it (John 6:52-65); those who thirst for the Water of Life shall drink of it (John 4:13; John 7:37-39, etc.); those who declare joy shall have it abundantly (John 15:1-11, etc.). Eating, drinking, feasting, celebrating and singing merely symbolize the blessings God’s servants will receive (see comments Isaiah 25:6 ff). The kingdom of God is essentially character, not food and drink (physical things) (cf. Romans 14:17). Those who rebel and disobey will find their souls and spirits starving and dying of spiritual nourishment. They will suffer sorrow and vexation (cf. Amos 8:11-12). There is no torture more excruciating than spiritual torture (cf. Luke 16:24-31).

Isaiah 65:15-16 NAMED: Those of the chosen nation who rebelled against their messianic destiny and their God left their name to the world for a curse. God promised Israel she would become a proverb and a by-word among the nations if she was rebellious and disobedient (cf. Deuteronomy 28:37; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Psalms 44:14). The Jewish nation became the chief illustration for Christians of the consequences of rebelling against the Lord (cf. Matthew 21:33-43; Matthew 22:1-10; Luke 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Hebrews 3:1 to Hebrews 4:13, etc.).

The Lord will slay the former Israel and create a new Israel (Galatians 6:15-16). Jehovah delivers the deathblow to the former Israel when He cancelled her covenant and nailed it to the cross of Christ. It was definitely prophesied that He would do away with the election of physical Israel (cf. Jeremiah 3:15-18; Jeremiah 31:31-34, etc.). These verses (Isaiah 65:13-16) clearly show that the genetic nation of Israel as such is not synonymous with God’s chosen (cf. also Romans 2:28-29). In the light of this precise statement that God is going to slay the disobedient nation and call His servants by another name, what scriptural reason is there for expecting a future resurrection of genetic Israel? Ezekiel 37 undoubtedly refers to the restoration of Judah after the Babylonian captivity in 536 B.C. Certainly the nation that was restored then cannot be the fulfillment of Isaiah 65:13-16; neither can the present-day Israel! See our comments on Isaiah 62:2 for a discussion of the new name.

The Lord will so completely and evidently fulfill His promises in Christ, those who choose to obey Him will invoke His name as the source of all truth. They will pray to Him for every need and they will proclaim Him as Infinite answer to man’s finiteness. He, Himself will become “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Those who become His disciples will know the truth and be set free from falsehood (John 8:31 ff). The Incarnate Son of Jehovah will become an oath demonstrating in time and space the veracity of Jehovah’s promises once and for all (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1 ff; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 6:17-20; Hebrews 9:1 ff, etc.). Whoever wishes to be blessed from henceforth must be blessed in the name of Jehovah and His Son; whoever wishes to verify the truthfulness, value, reality or meaning of anything must henceforth verify it in the character and will of Jehovah and His Son as revealed in the written record (the scriptures).

The “God of truth” is an extremely significant proposition. Jehovah is the truth. In the Person of Jehovah (and His Incarnate Son) is the whole of truth! There is no source of truth outside the character and will of God. He is truth absolute, ultimate, eternal in contradistinction from all that is relative, derived, partial and temporal. All that is true is relative to His character. When we speak of the sanctity of truth we must understand that underlying such a phrase is the sanctity of His character (His love, power, faithfulness, holiness, etc.). He is the God of truth and all truth derives its sanctity from Him. This is why all untruth or falsehood is wrong; it is a contradiction of what God is! This is why God cannot lie or change His will. To do so would contradict Himself and He cannot deny Himself and be God! The devil’s attack upon man was first an attack upon the veracity of God. He accused God of deliberate falsehood and deception in telling Eve that she should not eat of the tree because God knew if she did her eyes would be opened and she would then know something only God knew. Furthermore, the devil said God lied when He told Eve she would die if she ate of the tree. The devil openly assailed the integrity and veracity of God. And here is the important point; in convincing Eve that God was less than faithful, the devil very subtely destroyed Eve’s integrity when he seduced her into doubting God’s integrity.

The only reference point upon which man may build his own integrity, veracity, truthfulness and faithfulness (his own character, as it were) is in unreserved commitment and belief in God’s integrity and faithfulness. All of man’s unfaithfulness (indeed, all of man’s sin) has its affinity with that lie by which Eve was seduced—that God is untrustworthy. Man has only the power to believe or disbelieve. Truth is not in man, but in God. Truth can only be in man when man believes and trusts and obeys God! Therefore, if men are to be formed into the image of God it can only be done by preaching the objectively revealed (in the Bible) character of God (His faithfulness, love, and power). All preaching to convert must center on who God is and what He has done—not in what man feels, or thinks or is able to do. It is not in man to be faithful or to love or to be holy. Man can only be faithful and love and be holy when he believes God is absolutely faithful and absolutely loving and absolutely holy.

All that is false and standing against man has been forever conquered and eliminated through the Son of God. The power, the guilt and the penalty of man’s rebellion has been atoned for and truth, ultimate saving truth, is resident in Him. Man can be in Him by faith. That is where God chooses His servants—in Him Who is Truth! This is the new, refined Zion.

Verses 17-25

Isa 65:17-25

Isaiah 65:17-25

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come to mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and there shall be heard in her no more the voice of weeping and the voice of crying. 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 a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit: they shall not plant and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for calamity; for they are the seed of the blessed of Jehovah, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah."

What is the meaning of this remarkable paragraph? We know that it cannot refer to that New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21-22), because sinners here are represented as living to be a hundred years old! There shall be no sinners in heaven. Moreover, "It is not eternal life which is envisaged here, but longevity." Furthermore, the necessity of agricultural pursuits and for the continuation of the building industry for the purpose of feeding and housing mankind cannot be fitted into the picture of the New Jerusalem at the conclusion of the New Testament.

Many writers go overboard with their declarations that here is the promise of the Millennium. This can be true, only if the Millennium is properly understood as one of the names of the current Dispensation of the grace of God, not a literal thousand years, but embracing all of the time between the two advents of Jesus Christ.

Taking this chapter as a whole, the situation, first to last, must be identified with the current era of "the last times," as indicated by the apostle Peter on Pentecost (Acts 2:16); because it is the era in which the Gentiles are called to accept the gospel (cf. Romans 10:20), and it is the era when God’s people are no longer Israelites but are called by "another name" (Isaiah 65:15). Therefore, we accept the designation of Douglas as correct. He designated these last nine verses as, "The Overflowing Blessings in the Messianic Age."

The great difficulty of accepting this understanding of the passage lies in the first verse (Isaiah 65:17) where the "new heavens and the new earth" are promised; because the apostle Peter clearly identified this promise with the final judgment of mankind, the destruction of the earth with fire, in which "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:7-10).

Both sacred writers are obviously correct. The new heavens and the new earth mentioned by Isaiah here are indeed associated with the Messianic age, but coming at the end of it, its termination, rather than being identified with the period of probation, which constitutes the extended middle portion of the Messianic period, stretching from the first advent to the second advent. It will be remembered that Peter referred to the current dispensation as "the last days" (Acts 2:16-17); and it is a characteristic of all the prophets that events during the Messianic age are telescoped in the prophetic visions so that events, actually separated by millenniums of time, are often mentioned as if they occurred simultaneously. That is exactly what we believe to be evident here.

Another helpful factor in understanding what is written here is seen in the limitation of such promises as, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain" (Isaiah 65:25), to conditions "within all God’s holy mountain," that is, within the holy Church of Messiah, It is within that sacred fellowship that the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the wolf and the lamb shall lie down together, as stated in Isaiah’s earlier reference to the Messianic Age (Isaiah 11:6-9). Of course, what is meant is that the changes in men’s lives, due to their obedience of the gospel, will be "As great as if," the nature of fierce animals should be so changed.

This reference to the lion and the wolf, along with its counterpart, has a number of utilities: (1) again we have an instance of "here a little and there a little," so often seen in Isaiah; (2) it identifies this passage as pertaining to the age of Messiah, as is the case in Isaiah 11:6-9; (3) and it serves to illustrate the unity of the prophecy and its authorship by Isaiah. See our notes on Isaiah 11:6-9, above.

The wonderful blessings pertaining to God’s people which are cited in these verses, along with Isaiah 65:10 (above) refer to spiritual privileges, despite their being expressed here in the terms of material prosperity. Quite obviously in the passage, the natural laws of birth and death, and other conditions of our earth-life still prevail during the age of Messiah, in which we most assuredly live.

Of course, death itself shall finally be conquered; but when this finally occurs, Christ will render back to the Father the kingdom of heaven; and such shall mark the termination and not the beginning of the Messianic Age (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

"The new heavens and the new earth," like many other prophecies has an immediate and a remote fulfillment, the first being the creation of "an utterly new environment" in the first advent of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. The remote and final fulfillment is yet to occur when God will shake the earth the second time, signifying its "removal" (Hebrews 12:27), when the present earth and the works within it are "burned up" (2 Peter 3:7-10), when the "elements shall melt with fervent heat," and when has arrived that final "day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." It is freely admitted that these sensational promises could all be interpreted figuratively; but this writer, along with many others, clings to the conviction that cosmic disturbances of the most tremendous and far-reaching nature are most surely associated with the final Judgment Day in the Word of God.

The word "new" is significant in these chapters. There is to be a"new" heaven and earth, a "new" nature in the people of God, and a "new" name. Is not all of this what Paul spoke of? when he wrote: "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away. Behold, they are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

On Isaiah 65:20. here, Rawlinson noted that, "The remarkable thing in this paragraph is that death and sin are represented as continuing." Nevertheless, "Death was spoken of as being `swallowed up in victory’ in one of Isaiah’s earlier descriptions of Messiah’s kingdom." (See Isaiah 25:8 and my comment there). This harmonizes with what we have written above, namely, that both are correct. Sin and death prevail throughout the period of probation (the present dispensation) until the end of it, at which time the judgment and the new heaven and the new earth will appear. Death will be swallowed up in victory when the dead of all generations arise in the judgment to confront the Son of God upon the throne of his glory (Matthew 25). All of these are associated with the Messianic Age.

Isaiah 65:17-19 PERSONALITY: In Isaiah 65:16 Isaiah promised new Zion, “the former troubles are forgotten.” Now the prophet shows why the former troubles will be forgotten; Jehovah is going to create an entirely new order. The Hebrew verb bara is translated create and is used in the Hebrew gal stem only with God as the subject, because it means bringing into existence something absolutely new. This creation is not speaking of a literal, physical new heavens and earth, but of a new era, a new age or a new order in which God will create His spiritual kingdom on the present earth. Young puts it, “. . . heaven and earth are employed as figures to indicate a complete renovation or revolution in the existing course of affairs.” It is the new Jerusalem, the new covenant, and the old will not be remembered (cf. Jeremiah 3:15-17). In Hebrews 2:5-9 we are told that Christ came to restore man to the dominion over “the world to come” which man lost when he sinned in Eden. God cursed that creation because of man’s sin. But Jesus, partaking of human nature, conquered sin in the flesh and has potentially given man’s dominion back to him. This was done at the first advent of Christ (not the second). What God has done by Christ’s redemptive work and establishment of the church is, therefore, the new creation. Hebrews 12:27 indicates that the old order (Judaism, or Mosaic covenant) was “shaken” (destroyed) “in order that what cannot be shaken may remain.” That which “cannot be shaken” is the new order or the kingdom of Christ (Hebrews 12:28) which is the church. Paul indicates that the new covenant relationship is the new creation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Galatians 6:15-16, etc.). The Bible also teaches a consummation of the new creation at the second advent of the Messiah (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Peter 3:7-18, etc.).

The Jewish Apocrypha (see our comments on chapters 53 and 61), especially those works written after the Maccabean era, speak of the new age as being ushered in by cataclysmic events, brought about by supernatural powers, taking the form of a cosmic drama in which divine and demonic forces are at work, and involving a remaking of the heavens and earth to form a new beginning free from the corruption which had all along affected creation. It was, of course, to include the judgment of most of the Gentiles and the reign by power and wealth of the Jewish nation over the world. The apocryphal writers were interpreting the prophetic passages of the new order (such as we have here in Isaiah 65) colored by and relative to the persecution and oppression the Jews were having to endure at the hands of Gentile empires. Thus they pictured the messianic age beginning with a great supernatural deliverance of the Jewish nation from its oppressors involving cosmic warfare between God and Satan and demons, followed by creation of a new world order with headquarters in a new Jerusalem. It is easier, in the light of this materialistic interpretation of the prophets, to understand why the Jewish rulers kept insisting that Jesus show supernatural “signs and wonders” to verify His claims to be the Messiah!

What Jehovah is going to create will be eternal because Isaiah exhorts, “. . . be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create . . .” Jerusalem, the focus of the new creation, is characterized as both a subject of rejoicing and an object of joy. The new Jerusalem (the Jerusalem that is from above, i.e., the church in Galatians 4:26 is ano in Greek which means preeminent) will be filled with rejoicing as opposed to the sorrow and mourning which will fill old Jerusalem (the physical city). The new Jerusalem will also be the exclusive object of God’s rejoicing. Calvin wrote, “So great is his love toward us, that he delights in our prosperity not less than if he enjoyed it along with us.” Thus the personality of God’s newly created Jerusalem is characterized as joyful (cf. comments on Isaiah 35:10).

Isaiah 65:20 PERPETUITY: This verse is portraying in figurative language the immortality of the citizens of new Zion. It is not as clear as the statement in Isaiah 25:8, but nevertheless, in context, is teaching the concept of immortality. The idea of eternal life is taught in the Old Testament (cf. comments Isaiah 25:8), but vaguely and gradually. Actually, immortality for both the believer and the sinner is taught here; the believer will enjoy eternal blessedness, the sinner eternal accursedness. The basic idea is, on a level of spirituality commensurate with their immaturity, greatly increased longevity of life will be one of the blessings of the new Jerusalem. As we have it in our paraphrase, “There will be no more limited life in My new Jerusalem—neither among the very young nor the very old. Every citizen of new Zion will live in eternal joy. The sinner is also going to live forever, but in accursedness and not in new Zion.”

Isaiah 65:21-25 PROSPERITY: The Lord kept telling His people that when they disobeyed Him, everything they attempted (physically or psychologically) would not reach full fruition or bring them satisfaction (cf. Deuteronomy 28:30; Zephaniah 1:13; Micah 6:14-16; Amos 8:9-12, etc.). But in the new order (the messianic age of man’s reconciliation to Jehovah) the exact opposite will prevail. Everything the citizen of new Zion does, as he conforms to the image of Christ, will produce fruit to Jehovah’s glory and satisfaction to the heart of the doer (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 9:8-11; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, etc.). The picture is one of security, satisfaction and enjoyment. Whatever the citizen in God’s new kingdom labors at will glorify God (cf. Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:17; Colossians 3:22-25; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13). Anything done honestly and within the will of God will be honored by Him and rewarded. Nothing the Christian does (if God can be thanked for it, 1 Timothy 4:4) will be in vain; nothing he does will be destroyed. The works of the citizen of new Jerusalem “follow after him” (cf. Revelation 14:13).

Those who have been refined and recreated as God’s new Israel will call upon Jehovah and He will hear them. In fact, new Israel will be such a joy to Him He will eagerly answer their prayers before they are uttered! Daniel exemplified the faith that such a member of the new Israel would have. While he was still praying (Daniel 9:1-19), the Lord sent an angel to answer his prayer (Daniel 9:20-23). Daniel had hardly begun his prayer before the Lord answered it! Old Jerusalem complained (Isaiah 64) Jehovah was not listening to their prayers. It will not be so in the new Jerusalem. He will not only send His angels to minister to new Zion (Hebrews 1:14), He will give His Spirit to utter prayers for new Zion when she cannot find adequate ways to express herself to God (cf. Romans 8:26-27). He knows before we ask what we need (Matthew 6:8). If men know how to answer the requests of others, how much more does a divinely-caring Father know how to answer His children (cf. Luke 11:5-13; Luke 18:1-8).

Isaiah 65:25 is a fitting summation to this chapter. Nothing hurtful will be permitted in new Zion. In God’s “holy mountain” (Zion, cf. Hebrews 12:22), the place where He dwells, there will be peace, joy and festivity (cf. our comments Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 25:6-9).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 65". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/isaiah-65.html.
 
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