ISAIAH CHAPTER 65.
Rejection of the Apostates Salvation of the Pious.
THE LORDíS REFUSAL. ó V. 1. I am sought of them that asked not for Me, the Gentiles being represented as having access to the Lord and His mercy, although they were not members of Godís covenant people; I am found of them that sought Me not, His free grace and mercy being revealed to all men without any merit or worthiness on their part. I said, Behold Me, behold Me! unto a nation that was not called by My name, that did not belong to Israel according to the flesh. The universality of the Gospel-message is here set forth in unmistakable terms. By way of contrast the Lord now describes the behavior of Israel. V. 2. I have spread out My hands all the day, during the entire period when His covenant relation with Israel was in force, unto a rebellious people, stiff-necked and stubborn in all its actions, which walketh in a way that was not good, utterly at variance with Godís holy will, after their own thoughts, which were always evil and therefore led to destruction; cp. Rom. 11,7; v.3. a people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face, with a bold impertinence that challenged the wrath of the Lord; that sacrificeth in gardens, in groves, after the manner of the heathen, and burneth incense upon altars of brick, like the idol-worshipers of Babylonia; v. 4. which remain among the graves and lodge in the monuments, passing the night in hidden recesses, for the purposes of necromancy and Spiritism, which eat swineís flesh, a custom which was expressly forbidden in the Ceremonial Law, Lev. 11, 7, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels, cp. Lev. 7, 18; 19, 7; v.5. which say, Stand by thyself, thus declaring their rejection of Jehovah, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. Thus the idolaters give voice to the thoughts of their hearts, with whom they no longer desire to be identified, since they consider themselves members of a better religious class than His worshipers represent. These are a smoke in My nose, most disagreeable to Him, a fire that burneth all the day, causing consuming wrath to be kindled in Him. V. 6. Behold, it is written before Me, so that He has it before His eyes all the time. I will not keep silence, this being Godís answer upon their final appeal, chap. 64, 12, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, with a thoroughness which they would not be apt to forget, v. 7. your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord, so that the guilt of both would be laid upon them, Ex. 20, 5, which have burned incense upon the mountains, in an excess of idolatry which had so often been rebuked by the Lord, and blasphemed Me upon the hills, where the worship of Baal, Ashtaroth, and other heathen idols was carried on. Therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom, letting them bear the full burden of their transgressions. As it was true then, so it is true to-day: ďGod is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.Ē Gal. 6, 7.
A REMNANT SAVED. ó V. 8. Thus saith the Lord, in a parable setting forth His mercy upon His chosen people, As the new wine is found in the cluster, as one, upon examining imperfect, unripe grapes, still finds juice in some of the berries, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it, a wholesale destruction would include the good with the evil, so will I do for My servantsí sakes, for those who are still in truth His children in faith, that I may not destroy them all, the wheat with the tares, Matt. 13, 29. V. 9. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, reserve to Himself out of the people taken away into the Babylonian exile the nucleus of a Church of the New Testament, and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains, since the Messiah, the Ruler of His Church, would be a descendant of this tribe, cp. Micah 5, 1; and Mine elect shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there, all the believers being united in the spiritual Jerusalem under the government of the Prince of Peace. V. 10. And Sharon, the fruitful plain along the Mediterranean, shall be a fold of flocks, rich meadow-land, and the Valley of Achor, near the city of Jericho, sloping toward the Dead Sea, a place for the herds to lie down in, where caravans might find a resting-place, for My people that have sought Me, the entire section picturing the happy condition of the believers as recipients of the Lordís blessings. But the Lord now once more turns to the apostates with a further rebuke. V. 11. But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget My holy mountain, the place of His habitation, where He was worshiped, that prepare a table for that troop, for Gad, the idol of happiness and good fortune, and that furnish the drink-offering unto that number, to Meni, who may have been the corresponding goddess. The exiles had been addicted to the service of these idols during their captivity at Babylon arid had brought the idolatrous practices connected with their cult back with them to Judea, as the prophet saw in spirit. V. 12. Therefore will I number you to the sword, deliver them to the extremity of a violent death, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter, to the slaughtering-bench instead of to the loaded banquet-table at the feast of idols; because, when I called, ye did not answer, when the Lord sought out those who ignored Him, they continued in their attitude of indifference; when I spake, ye did not hear, setting aside His Word with an utter disregard of His rights, but did evil before Mine eyes and did choose that wherein I delighted not. In other words, they proved themselves the enemies of the Lord in every way. V. 13. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, the all-powerful Ruler of the universe, Behold, My servants, the believers, shall eat, enjoy the fullness of Godís blessings, 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, being deprived of all advantages which pertain to the children of God; v. 14. behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, in the happiness which goes with the certainty of being children of a gracious Father, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, when despair takes hold of them, and shall howl for vexation of spirit, when their courage fails them altogether. V. 15. And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto My chosen, so that the Lordís people would pronounce curses upon the name of the idolaters whenever they think of it; for the Lord God shall slay thee and call His servants by another name, so that they would no longer be obliged to bear the name of the apostates to their reproach, v. 16. that he who blesseth himself in the earth, calling down some blessing upon his head, shall bless himself in the God of truth, literally, ďin the God of Amen,Ē in Him who fulfils all His promises to His children and executes His threats upon His enemies; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth, because the former troubles are forgotten, with all the doubts which they tended to create in the hearts of the believers, and because they are hid from Mine eyes, so that they have disappeared entirely. This thought fitly introduces the next paragraph, where the new order of things is described in language which is both beautiful and majestic.
THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH. ó V. 17. For, behold, I create new heavens, the plural being applied to the abode of the blessed in many passages of the Bible, and a new earth, cp. Rev. 21; and the former, that which was here infested with sin and its curse, shall not be remembered nor come into mind, the very remembrance of the sorrows of this present world being erased by the overwhelming mercies of God. V. 18. But be ye, the partakers of the glories in this new earth, glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy, so that the believers of all times are engaged in praises of Him always, in honor of His works of mercy. V. 19. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in My people, in the Church which He Himself founded, this joy of the Lord being apparent throughout the entire Bible; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her nor the voice of crying, the tears over the misery of this earthly life being dried up in the merciful light of Godís countenance. V. 20. There shall be no more thence, in the kingdom of the Messiah, an infant of days, a babe taken away after just a few days of earthly life, nor an old man that hath not filled his days, reaching the full measure of years in accordance with Godís creative plan; for the child shall die an hundred years old, one passing away at this age being considered still a young man; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed, he who would otherwise be torn away by the avenging justice of God at about half the usual age now being spared till he reaches the age of at least a hundred years, the patience of the Lord being so much greater than before. The fact that the Lord, in the time of the New Testament, shows such wonderful long-suffering in dealing with transgressors, individuals as well as nations, is one of the chief marks distinguishing this age from the time before the Messiahís coming. V. 21. And they shall build houses and inhabit them, enjoying the blessings of the Lord in a quiet and peaceable life; and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them, this expression being used throughout the Old Testament of undisturbed happiness. V. 22. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat, so that they will be deprived of the fruit of their labor; for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, all of them being blessed with a ripe age, as of a cedar or oak, and Mine elect, those whom His mercy has chosen to be His children, shall long enjoy the work of their hands. All of these expressions are figurative and portray the rich beauties of the blessings enjoyed in the Lordís kingdom. V. 23. They shall not labor in vain, without result or lasting reward, nor bring forth for trouble, their children inheriting nothing but misery; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, begotten of the Lord and blessed by Him, and their offspring with them, partakers of the same benefits, which the children enjoy with their parents. V. 24. And it shall come to pass that before they call, the cry having hardly left their lips, I will answer, being so desirous of extending assistance and deliverance to them, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear, such being the extent of His good pleasure in His children. V. 25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, pasturing in the same meadow, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, forgetting his ferocious nature; and dust shall be the serpentís meat, or, ďand even the serpent whose food is the dustĒ. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord. The description, as of conditions before the Fall, while the peace of Paradise was still in force, sets before the eyes of all believers the glorious peace of the Messianic kingdom, in which men, without the ferociousness of their sinful nature, will be at peace with one another and serve and worship the Lord with entire unanimity of mind.