For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

65:1. “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.”

The reference here is clearly to the Gentiles out of whom the Lord has been calling a people for Himself for these past two thousand years, during which Israel has wandered in spiritual darkness, ignorant of the fact that their promised Messiah has already come, but they failed to recognize Him because He came in lowly guise, as foretold in Isa 52 and 53 rather than as the mighty conquering King they desired.

65:2. “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;”

Those described here are the Jews, who like multitudes of Gentiles today, fail to understand the Scriptures, for it is to be noted that woven into the Bible’s literal language, is a deeper spiritual meaning discerned only by the obedient believer who is enlightened by an ungrieved and unquenched Holy Spirit - He is grieved when we do what He forbids, and He is quenched when we fail to do what He commands.

65:3. “A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;”

This self-willed “worship” of the Jews in the days referred to by the prophet, is also the metaphoric description of what passes for worship in today’s apostate Christendom. The gardens were man-made, as were also the bricks - God’s altar was to be of uncut stone, see Ex 20:25 “And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.”

The magnificent buildings, a robed and collared clergy, orchestrated music, etc., which are all part and parcel of apostate Christendom, are a far cry from the simple order that governed the meetings of the early believers.

65:4. “Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;”

The graves and monuments speak of death, while the swine’s flesh and broth of abominable things represent what is spiritually unclean. The picture continues to apply also to the religion of today’s apostate Christendom. We are what we eat. For all its outward grandeur unconverted Christendom is a dead, filthy abomination in God’s sight.

65:5. “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.”

This description continues to apply also to the Israel of Christ’s day, but it applies with equal force to today’s Christendom, for a more accurate description of Christendom’s clerics - Catholic and Protestant alike - would be difficult to find. From the Pope and the Arch-bishop of Canterbury, down to the parish priest and the lowest Protestant cleric, all are marked by the same “holier than thou” attitude. Nor is the distinction arbitrarily imposed: a gullible “laity” delights in according special honor to these “ministers.” All of it however, is still a smoke in God’s nose, a fire that feeds His wrath continuously, for it is a travesty of His appointed order.

65:6. “Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,”

Scholars differ as to whether this verse means that God has before Him the record of the people’s sins, or the written promise that He will punish those sins. Both are true.

65:7. “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.”

“... blasphemed” here means reproached, scorned, insulted, defied. Each succeeding generation has been guilty of idolatry, relative to which it is written, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry,” 1 Sa 15:23. Every sin is rebellion against God.

65:8. “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.”

The NEB translation of this verse reads, “... As there is new wine in a cluster of grapes, and men say, ‘Do not destroy it; there is a blessing in it, so will I do for my servants’ sake: I will not destroy the whole nation.”

There is a deeper significance in this than is at first apparent. The cluster of grapes represents the nation Israel, and as the cluster of grapes was to be spared for the sake of the wine that could be pressed out of it, so was Israel to be spared because it was out of that nation that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, was to come. Relative to wine it is written, “Wine that maketh glad the heart of man,” Ps 104:15. It was by the “crushing” of Christ at Calvary that the hearts of believers are made glad, for it is by His precious blood that their sins are cleansed, and they themselves made righteous in God’s sight. There is no more joyful announcement than that “... the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us (born-again believers) from all sin,” 1 John 1:7.

65:9. “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.”

“I will give Jacob children to come after him, and Judah heirs who shall possess my mountains; my chosen shall inherit them, and my servants shall live there,” is the NEB translation of this verse.

This is a reaffirmation of the prophecy given in Gen 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” The application is to Millennial Israel, while Shiloh meaning sent, peace-bringer, bringer of prosperity is the Lord Jesus Christ.

65:10. “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.”

The description continues to be of the idyllic state of Israel and the world in the Millennium.

65:11. “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.”

Taylor has translated this verse, “But because the rest of you have forsaken the Lord and His temple and worship gods of “Fate” and “Destiny.”
The idolatrous state of the Israel addressed here by the prophet stands in stark contrast with those mentioned in the preceding verse. They have become completely corrupt, and in their depravity God bids us see the state of today’s apostate Christendom.

65:12. “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 hearken; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.”

Their refusal to repent and turn again to God had sealed their fate, as it is written, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29:1. As has been noted already however, the state of today’s world is exactly as described here, and it will be visited with the same destruction under the terrible judgments of the impending Great Tribulation.

65:13. “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:”

The time when this will be fulfilled is not specified, but certainly we are justified in seeing in it the foretelling of what will be in the eternal state. Death transports believers into eternal blessedness in heaven, but unbelievers into torment, first in hell, and then eternally in the lake of fire, see Lk 16:23-26 relative the fate of an unbeliever, “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.”

65:14. “Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.”

This continues the list of the believer’s eternal blessings, but also the litany of the unbeliever’s eternal misery, see Heb 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” See also Job 36:18, “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.”

65:15. “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:”

In The Amplified Bible this verse is translated, “And you shall leave your name to My chosen [for those who will it] for a curse, and the Lord God will slay you; but He will call His servants by another name [as much greater than the former name as Israel was greater than Jacob].”

In Scripture a change of name signifies a change of state, e.g., Jacob, meaning supplanter, was changed to Israel, meaning he shall be prince of God: God commands. Every believer undergoes a similar name change at conversion: the former sinner becomes a saint: note e.g., in Scripture how frequently believers are referred to as saints.

65:16. “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.”

He who seeks a blessing for himself is to seek it from God alone, for He alone has the ultimate power to bless.

“... he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth” must be understood in the light of Mt 5:34-37, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all .... But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Our speech is to be always truthful, requiring no special oath to make it so. Experience teaches in fact that the more a man avers the truthfulness of what he says, the more suspect does his statement become.

The latter part of the verse is God’s assurance to the believer that He no longer remembers that man’s sins, the precious blood of Christ having purged them eternally.

65:17. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

This will occur at the end of the Millennium, see Rev 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

65:18. “Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”

This indicates that there will be a Jerusalem on the new earth, and that it will be the governmental center of the world, as it will have been of the Millennial earth. “... and her people a joy” seems also to confirm that the description is of the post-Millennial world, for the fact that “her people (will be) a joy” implies a world of sinless perfection, a condition that will not be true of even the Millennial earth.

65:19. “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.”

The picture continues to be of the perfection of the post-Millennial world.

65:20. “There shall be no more thence and 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 that marked the Adamic period - see Genesis chapter 5 - will be characteristic of the post-Millennial age also.

65:21. “And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.”

The building of houses implies an increasing population; and the planting of vineyards, and eating the fruit of them, declares the blessedness of that coming glorious time.

65:22. “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.”

Transience marks everything in this present world, but permanence will be the characteristic of the new earth.

65:23. “They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.”

Many understand “labor” here to mean that which is related exclusively to childbirth, and the mention of seed and offspring seems to justify that interpretation, since building and planting, and all the work of man’s hands, has already been discussed in the preceding verse.

65:24. “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

God’s response to their petitions will be immediate: even as they utter them He will grant their requests, and the question may well be asked, Why? The answer lies in the fact that things will be very different in the new earth: the people’s requests will be presented on the basis of perfect knowledge, but today we often ask amiss because our knowledge is still imperfect, see Jas 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

It is to be understood further however, that today we know not what to ask for rightly, and delayed answers to our prayers are part of our spiritual education to teach us patience, and sometimes to show us that what we ask isn’t for our utmost good. How often has God’s denial of our requests eventually evoked thankfulness that He didn’t give what we had asked!

65:25. “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.”

Carnivores will be herbivorous; and though it seems strange that snakes should eat dust, a careful examination of the etymology of “dust” reveals that that is exactly what is meant here. The explanation therefore, may be that the serpent is a type of Satan, see Rev 20:2-3, “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after than he must be loosed a little season.” But his final end is recorded in Rev 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” As the serpent fed on dust, which speaks of death, see Ps 22:15, so does Satan also deal in death, his whole business being to bring men down into the same state as that in which he himself must continue eternally, see Rev 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”


[Isaiah 66]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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