Read the Passage: Isaiah 65
Listen to the Redeemed Mind Podcast: Isaiah 65
Superficial Worship (65:1–7)
In the final nine chapters of this book (cf. Isa. 58–66), Isaiah confronts the false religion of some within Israel, exhorts the nation to repent, and describes the future blessings of God’s people. In Isaiah 65 these same themes are present, as in the first half of this chapter Isaiah confronts sin, while in the second half of this chapter Isaiah writes about the eternal state, including the new heavens and the new earth. It is interesting in Isa. 65:1 that God reveals the Gentiles would eventually accept Christ—a verse later cited by Paul (cf. Rom. 10:20). While it may seem strange for Isaiah to refer to the Gentiles as he is addressing Israel’s sin, recall that a main reason for the salvation of the Gentiles was to provoke the Jews to jealousy and to salvation (cf. Deut. 32:21; Rom. 11:11). Note that God’s cry in this passage of, “Here I am! Here I am!” (Isa. 65:1) is a wonderful summation of His merciful heart for the salvation of the lost.
In Isa. 65:2–7 Isaiah describes the superficial worship of some of God’s people, as well as the blatant rejection of God by others. Just as with God’s call to the Gentiles, so with the Jews, God cried out, “I have stretched out my hands all day long” (Isa. 65:2). Note this verse may be an allusion to Jesus’ crucifixion. The sins of Israel that are identified in this passage include: general rebellion, worshiping other gods, communing with the dead, eating unclean foods, and arrogant self-righteousness. Such false worship and outright idolatry, declares God, are “smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day” (Isa. 65:5). In this passage God notes that on account of the people’s grievous sins, He “will not keep silent, but will repay. . . . [and] measure their former work into their bosom” (Isa. 65:6–7). Indeed, as the New Testament later teaches, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31; cf. Luke 12:5).
Divine Judgment (65:8–16)
While God details His judgment of apostate Israel in this chapter, He also gives hope, as He proclaims, “I will not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob and from Judah an heir of My mountains; my elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there” (Isa. 65:8–9). Of course, the main descendant from the tribe of Judah is Jesus (cf. Rev. 5:5), thus this passage is a Messianic prophecy; however, it also addresses God’s future fulfillment of His covenants with His people. Indeed, as Paul later wrote, one day “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26), which includes all the elect whom Christ bought with His blood—consisting of both ethnic Jews and Gentiles. Observe in Isa. 65:11–16 God contrasts two distinct peoples, as He notes the redeemed will eat, drink, rejoice, and sing; while those who are not redeemed will hunger, thirst, be ashamed, and wail.
Future Glory (65:17–25)
Beginning in Isa. 65:17 God reveals certain aspects of what He refers to as “a new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17). Note that this new creation is not new in the sense of original or created, but new in the sense of fresh or redeemed. In other words, the new heavens and earth described in Scripture is the current heavens and earth set free from the curse and purged of all the effects of sin (cf. Rom. 8:18–22). Take a few moments and consider some of the passages in the Bible that address the new heavens and new earth, such as: Ps. 102:25–26; Isa. 2:4; 11:6–8; 35:1–7; 65:17–25; 66:22–23; Ezek. 47:1–12; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13–15; Rom. 8:20–22; 2 Pet. 3:12–13; and Rev. 2:7; 21:1–22:5. Some of the general details about the new heavens and earth include: the present earth will not come to mind, God and man will be filled with joy, and God will hear and answer man’s prayers.
There are not many specific details about the new heavens and new earth in Scripture; however, there are several teachings worth considering. The psalmist writes that although the present creation will “wear out like a garment, . . You will change them like a robe” (Ps. 102:26; cf. Isa. 55:12–13). Details about this change include the desert blooming (cf. Isa. 35:1–2, 6–7), water flowing as a river from the Temple in Jerusalem into the Dead Sea in order to restore it (cf. Ezek. 47:1–12), the presence of new wine and milk (cf. Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13–15), trees and vineyards (Isa. 65:21; Rev. 22:1–2), as well as precious stones (cf. Rev. 21:18–21). Additionally, the new heavens and new earth will include restored animals (cf. Isa. 11:6–8; 65:25). Moreover, in the final state man will exercise proper dominion over the created order in fulfillment of God’s creational design (cf. Hos. 2:18).
- What do you know about the Bible’s teaching concerning the new heavens and the new earth?
- Does Paul’s statement about sharing the gospel with “the Jews first” (Rom. 1:16) prescribe spiritual priority or logical chronology?
- What causes God’s merciful long-suffering to turn into wrathful judgment? How can someone tell when they have exhausted God’s grace?
- In Isa. 65:15 what is the name that is “a curse to My chosen” people, and what is the new name by which God will “call His servants”?
- As you read through the biblical description of the new heavens and earth, what aspects of future glory are most attractive to you?