Bible Commentary: Isaiah 65

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Isaiah 65

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Judgment on Iniquity; A New Creation

Verse 1 begins God’s answer to Isaiah’s entreaty that concludes with 64:12. The Israelites seek God but don’t find Him because of their rebellion against Him. Instead, God is found by others. The first two verses of chapter 65 contain some phrases quoted by Paul in his discourse regarding the future restoration of Israel (Romans 10:20 Romans 10:20But Esaias is very bold, and said, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest to them that asked not after me.
American King James Version×
, 21). Verse 1, where God mentions “a nation that was not called by My name” is referring, according to the apostle Paul, to gentile converts grafted into Israel spiritually (through becoming part of the Church) that God uses to provoke the natural Israelites to jealousy (Romans 10:19 Romans 10:19But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses said, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
American King James Version×
; see Romans 11).

The verses that follow in Isaiah 65 then refer to the rebellious people of Israel, who would not respond to God’s appeal and outstretched hands. Some of the rebellious actions of the people are described—practices of those who have forsaken God’s true religion. While some of the actions mentioned may have applied literally in Isaiah’s day, it is likely that the sins here have some application for our time. In verse 3, sacrificing in gardens could simply refer to worshiping in pagan sanctuaries, i.e. false Christian worship places. Incense is symbolic of prayers in Scripture and could here signify prayer in false worship. In verse 4, sitting among the graves and tombs could refer to vigils and candle burning still carried out in segments of modern Christendom for the dead. Or it could refer to séances and other occultism. The eating of unclean food such as pork (verse 4; 66:17) is replete throughout the nations of modern Israel today. And the “holier than thou” attitude of Isaiah 65:5 Isaiah 65:5Which say, Stand by yourself, come not near to me; for I am holier than you. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burns all the day.
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is all too common. In verse 11, the people honor Gad and Meni—the pagan deities Fortune (or Luck) and Destiny (or Fate). Consider how many rely on luck and fate even today. God pronounces His determination to punish His rebellious people.

But He will not destroy them all, throwing the good grapes out with the bad (verse 8), for His “elect” and His “servants” of Israel will inherit and dwell in the land (verse 9). Sharon (verse 10), in the west, is the coastal plain between the modern cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Valley of Achor (see Joshua 7:24-26 Joshua 7:24-26 [24] And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them to the valley of Achor. [25] And Joshua said, Why have you troubled us? the LORD shall trouble you this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. [26] And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Why the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, to this day.
American King James Version×
), in the east is near the plain of Jericho. Thus, the whole land is meant. Throughout this section, a contrast is made between the rebellious people and God’s “servants.”

The new heavens and new earth (verse 17) are mentioned by John in Revelation 21:1 Revelation 21:1And 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.
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as coming at the time the New Jerusalem descends to earth. Yet here in Isaiah 65, the time described is one in which human beings still live on the earth in the flesh (verses 21-25; see also chapter 66:22-24).

How, then, are we to understand this? It would seem that the millennial reign of Christ will experience a measure of a renewed creation—in anticipation of the ultimate new heavens and new earth that will follow man’s final judgment. Indeed, the millennial picture of peace in nature and among people (Isaiah 65:25 Isaiah 65:25The 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, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
) is repeated from Isaiah 11:6-9 Isaiah 11:6-9 [6] The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them. [7] And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. [8] And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. [9] They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×
. And all of this will continue over into the last judgment period immediately following the 1,000 years of peace (see Revelation 20:11-15 Revelation 20:11-15 [11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
American King James Version×
). Indeed, some see verse 20 as an indication that this time of judgment will last 100 years.

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