Isaiah 65-66

is65.jpgGreetings!  This wraps up our study of Isaiah.  I’ve learned a lot, but must say it has been one of the most challenging books I’ve studied.  The largest barrier is the many people and places I am unfamiliar with. 

Judgment and Salvation

65     “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;

I was found by those who did not seek me.

To a nation that did not call on my name,

I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 

God chose Israel, not the other way around. 

2 All day long I have held out my hands

to an obstinate people,

who walk in ways not good,

pursuing their own imaginations—

3 a people who continually provoke me

to my very face,

offering sacrifices in gardens

and burning incense on altars of brick;

4 who sit among the graves

and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;

who eat the flesh of pigs,

and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat;

5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,

for I am too sacred for you!’

Such people are smoke in my nostrils,

a fire that keeps burning all day.

6 “See, it stands written before me:

I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;

I will pay it back into their laps—

7 both your sins and the sins of your fathers,”

says the Lord.

“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills,

I will measure into their laps

the full payment for their former deeds.”

The Israelites committed spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods and sacrificing to them. 

8 This is what the Lord says:

“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes

and men say, ‘Don’t destroy it,

there is yet some good in it,’

so will I do in behalf of my servants;

I will not destroy them all.

9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,

and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;

my chosen people will inherit them,

and there will my servants live.

10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,

and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,

for my people who seek me.

11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord

and forget my holy mountain,

who spread a table for Fortune

and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,

12 I will destine you for the sword,

and you will all bend down for the slaughter;

for I called but you did not answer,

I spoke but you did not listen.

You did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“My servants will eat,

but you will go hungry;

my servants will drink,

but you will go thirsty;

my servants will rejoice,

but you will be put to shame.

14 My servants will sing

out of the joy of their hearts,

but you will cry out

from anguish of heart

and wail in brokenness of spirit.

15 You will leave your name

to my chosen ones as a curse;

the Sovereign Lord will put you to death,

but to his servants he will give another name.

16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land

will do so by the God of truth;

he who takes an oath in the land

will swear by the God of truth.

For the past troubles will be forgotten

and hidden from my eyes.

The following passage is a famous image of the future, either of Heaven and/or Christ’s reign on earth.  We are so used to sin and evil in the world that it is hard to imagine what life will be like for believers then – no fear, pain, mourning or death – only joy with our Savior!

New Heavens and a New Earth

17 “Behold, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem

and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not live out his years;

he who dies at a hundred

will be thought a mere youth;

he who fails to reach a

hundred

will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree,

so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy

the works of their hands.

23 They will not toil in vain

or bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

24 Before they call I will answer;

while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

but dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord.

Judgment and Hope

66     This is what the Lord says:

“Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool.

Where is the house you will build for me?

Where will my resting place be?

2 Has not my hand made all these things,

and so they came into being?”

declares the Lord.

“This is the one I esteem:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit,

and trembles at my word.

3 But whoever sacrifices a bull

is like one who kills a man,

and whoever offers a lamb,

like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

whoever makes a grain offering

is like one who presents pig’s blood,

and whoever burns memorial incense,

like one who worships an idol.

They have chosen their own ways,

and their souls delight in their abominations;

4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and will bring upon them what they dread.

For when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke, no one listened.

They did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

5 Hear the word of the Lord,

you who tremble at his word:

“Your brothers who hate you,

and exclude you because of my name, have said,

‘Let the Lord be glorified,

that we may see your joy!’

Yet they will be put to shame.

6 Hear that uproar from the city,

hear that noise from the temple!

It is the sound of the Lord

repaying his enemies all they deserve.

7 “Before she goes into labor,

she gives birth;

before the pains come upon her,

she delivers a son.

8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?

Who has ever seen such things?

Can a country be born in a day

or a nation be brought forth in a moment?

Yet no sooner is Zion in labor

than she gives birth to her children.

9 Do I bring to the moment of birth

and not give delivery?” says the Lord.

“Do I close up the womb

when I bring to delivery?” says your God.

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,

all you who love her;

rejoice greatly with her,

all you who mourn over her.

11 For you will nurse and be satisfied

at her comforting breasts;

you will drink deeply

and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,

and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;

you will nurse and be carried on her arm

and dandled on her knees.

13 As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice

and you will flourish like grass;

the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,

but his fury will be shown to his foes.

15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,

and his chariots are like a whirlwind;

he will bring down his anger with fury,

and his rebuke with flames of fire.

16 For with fire and with his sword

the Lord will execute judgment upon all men,

and many will be those slain by the Lord.

17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,” declares the Lord.

18 “And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.

19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 Isaiah ends on a sober note, reminding us of the severe consequences for those who face God with their own “righteousness” and not that of Jesus the Messiah.

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