65:11–16 The fearful end of apostates is compared with the joy and blessedness of the elect

65:11 “But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that (1) forget my holy mountain, that (2) prepare a table for that troop [Heb gad, RSV Fortune, See Gen 30:11; 49:19], and that furnish the drink offering unto (3) that number [Heb meni RSV, MLB etc Destiny].”

(1) Those who “forget my holy mountain” are contrasted with those who will possess “my mountains” (v9). They were religious (v7) and would climb other mountains (57:7) to venerate other gods. They breached the first of the ten commandments (Exod 20:3) and denied the greatest commandment, “The LORD our God is one LORD; and thou shalt love the LORD …” (Deut 6:4, 5). In forgetting the worship centred in Zion, Yahweh’s holy mountain (2:2; 24:23; 25:6, 7; 35:10, etc), they were forsaking Him.

(2) Regarding “that troop” and “that number”, Rotherham has the footnote ‘Gad and Meni, “two well-known Syrian deities”’. Fortune (Gad) was worshipped widely, the name appearing in the place Baal-gad (Josh 11:17) and Migdal-gad (Josh 15:37).

(3) “that number”, Hebrew Meni, translated ‘Destiny’ (MLB) means ‘the apportioner’, that is, of fate.

65:12 “(1) Therefore will I number [Heb manah, the primary root of meni; RSV destine] you to the sword, and (2) ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: (3) because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear [as in v2; contrast v24!]; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.”

(1) What they sought they would not get. The play on the name Meni (Heb), that number (AV), or Destiny (RSV etc) is picked up to mock and so to press home the utter vanity of false religion. They were destined for the coming Babylonian sword. (2) They would bow down, not for worship (2:8,9,11), but for slaughter! (3) The reasons for coming judgment are again summarised: failure to respond to Yahweh’s repeated overtures, and choosing to do that in which He found no pleasure.

65:13 “(1) Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, (2) my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry [Roth famished]: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, (3) my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:

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

In these two verses there are a series of contrasts presenting the divergent experiences of Yahweh’s servants and the apostates.

(1) “Therefore” connects with the punishments threatened in verse 12, and the blessings promised in verses 8–10. (2) Connects with verse 9 and see note there. The eating and drinking referred to will be the feasting promised the redeemed on the holy mount of Zion (25:6; 55:1–2; Psa 22:26–28; Luke 22:16) – emblematic of every need being met. (3) Unspeakable joys await the LORD’S faithful servants (35:10; Rev 19:7). This will contrast with the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of those who neglected opportunities for worship and service in the days of their flesh (Matt 8:11, 12; Luke 13:28–30).

65:15 (1) “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:

65:16 (2) That he who (3) blesseth himself [NIV Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth] in the earth shall bless himself in the (4) God of truth; and he that sweareth [NIV whoever takes an oath] in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; (5) because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.”

(1) The NIV (2011) reads, “You will leave your name for my chosen ones to use in their curses”. In verses 15 and 16, names are the topic – the names of those slain by Yahweh for their rebellion will be remembered as cursed by Him, while those who are His servants will be called by another name, not revealed here (see 62:2, 4, 12).

(2) This verse is connected to verse 15, elaborating what has just been revealed.

(3) Reference here again is to the blessing of inheriting the earth; the blessings of the covenant to Abraham are justification in Christ (Acts 3:26; Gal 3:8), and an eternal inheritance of the Promised Land (Gen 13:14–17).

(4) The blessings received predicate blessings to be given. Saints in the Kingdom will both invoke blessings as well as take oaths of allegiance in the name of the God of truth (Heb amen). This title of God, found here twice and in Psalm 31:5, bears upon the name of God revealed to Moses at Sinai: “The LORD, the LORD God [El], merciful and gracious … abundant in goodness and truth [Heb emeth]”( Exod 34:6). These words come from the verb ‘aman’, to build up, support; and hence speak of assurance, trust … So our wonderful God is steadfast, utterly trustworthy and will not be moved (Psa 36:5, “thy faithfulness [emunah] reacheth unto the clouds”).

In the context of rewards received in the Kingdom, that is, of Yahweh having honoured His covenants and promises, saints will be very impressed with this aspect of His character and be compelled to exclaim, “O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old [prophecy now fulfilled] are faithfulness [Heb emunah] and truth [Heb amen; Isa 25:1]”. See also 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:11–13. It is notable, too, that in the context of our Lord promising a new name to “him that overcometh”, he calls himself the “Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev 3:12, 14; see also 1:5; 3:7; 15:3; 19:4, 11; 21:5; 22:20, 21). What is true of the Father, is true also of that perfect manifestation of Him, even His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

(5) This statement is illuminating in its context: it is because the former troubles have receded into the dim distant past, been forgotten and are hidden from the eyes of Yahweh, they have no validity or being and consequently pure and unmingled bliss will prevail – all the outcome of the God of truth! The next glorious passage elaborates this ‘blissful story’.

65:17–25 New heavens and a new earth, joy, peace and prosperity

The Apostle Peter says that “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet 3:13). He refers to the Kingdom of God which will replace the Kingdoms of men: “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (v10; Rev 11:15; Dan 2:44).

The description of conditions in verses 17–25 confirms what we know about Christ’s reign from other Scriptures (eg Psalm 72; Isa 2; 11; 25–26; 32; 35 etc), and also provides other insights. Here our hope is made particularly real, in many cases by saying not only what will prevail but also what will not: the positive as well as the negative.

 65:17 “(1) For, behold, (2) I create new heavens and a new earth: and (3) the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

 

(1) This “For” connects with verse 16: what Yahweh will create will confirm Him as the “God of truth”, who fulfils His promises, the world-wide blessings (v16; Gen 22:18; Psa 72:17).

(2) The new order will supplant and excel the old creation. Saints are part of the new creation, being God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph 2:10; 2 Cor 5:17). The Mosaic Law and its institutions, the temple, the Levitical priesthood etc were removed (in AD 70 by the Romans), and replaced by salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, which it foreshadowed (Isa 50:6–8; Matt 24:35). The new heavens and earth are permanent and will remain (66:23; Psa 102:25–28; Heb 1:10–12).

(3) As in verse 16 with regard to the “former troubles”. All pertaining to the “old order will be eclipsed by this new order, this total renewal. So pervasive will be the blessings of the new heavens and earth, that past memories will not be aroused: nothing will prompt memory of what used to be! What Yahweh declares of Himself in verse 16 will appertain to the citizens of His new creation: there will be a general amnesia!” (J.A.Motyer).

65:18 (1) “But be ye glad and rejoice for ever (2) in that which I create: for, behold, (3) I create (4) Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

 65:19 And (5) I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in (6) my people: and the (7) voice of weeping shall be (8) no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying [RSV the cry of distress]”.

 

(1) Here is the first illustration of what the new heavens and earth will be like: there will be only abounding joy, and this is emphasised by a doubling of the words to express it, “be ye glad and rejoice” – there will be total joy (cp 35:10; 26:1; 58:14; Rev 19:7).

(2) What a contrast this is with ‘earth’s joys’ today, where ultimately weeping and death crown all human achievements, where there is no knowledge of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ.

(3) The sense is that God is about to create – this is the impending future!

(4) This is a compelling statement. Jerusalem is inseparable from, and synonymous with, rejoicing (NIV delight), and her people with joy (cp 60:18)! The psalmist describes Jerusalem as “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth … the city of the great King” (Psa 48:2). And as for people being a joy, Paul says to the saints at Thessalonica, future citizens of the new Jerusalem, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thess 2:19, 20). (5) Jerusalem is the focal point of the hope of Israel. It is the city of David; there Messiah, his Son and God’s, will be enthroned (Luke 1:32; Matt 5:35). Saints are represented as having been born there (Psa 87:5, 6); the city, being the “mother of us all” (Gal 4:26), the “heavenly Jerusalem”, Zion, to which saints have “come” (Heb 12:22; Rev 14:1; Isa 35:10). The house of prayer for all nations, the Temple of Ezekiel, will be built there and the LORD’s glory will fill that house. He describes it as “the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever” (Ezek 43:5–7). Take note of the glowing last words of Isaiah about Jerusalem’s joy and rejoicing – and imagine – (Isa 66:10–14)!

(6) Notice the change from “her [Jerusalem’s] people” (v18) to “my people”.

(7) “Weeping” results from pain, and “crying” (the cry of distress, the sound of a scream) when pain is inflicted; both cause and effect have gone, “shall no more be heard”.

(8) “No more” corresponds to “for ever” (v18), the positive and the negative giving power to the declaration.

 65:20 (1) “There shall be no more thence an (2) infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the (3) child shall die an hundred years old; but (4) the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.”

(1) Present experience is used to explain the life that shall characterise the Millennium. All that is needed will be provided (v13); joy and happiness will forever flow (66:10–14); peace and security will be total (v22–25). What we have no capacity to conceptualise can only be understood by relating these things to what we know and have experienced.

(2) NIV, “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days”, nor will there be elderly people who do not live the appointed span of life. Both extremes are characterised as living longer, life will be extended; the reverse of what happened following the advent of sin (that brought death) into the world.

The saints will be immortal, and incorruptible, but those of the nations left after Armageddon will be mortal – Christ and the saints will be the kings and priests ruling over the nations (Rev 2:26, 27; 5:9, 10). Death, the last enemy will only be abolished following the final resurrection at the end of Christ’s 1000 year reign (1 Cor 15:23–28; Rev 20:11–15). So in the description here of conditions in the Kingdom, death will still be part of the human lot, though its powers will be diminished.

(3) To emphasise how life will be extended we are informed that if someone died being ‘only 100’, he would be esteemed but a youth!

(4) There will be those who will sin during Christ’s reign, in fact the post-millennial rebellion will be led by tyrants who will gather men against the “beloved city”, Christ and the saints (Rev 20:7–9); and they will be summarily destroyed. What is the point here? Wilful sinners may live to 100, but they will be known and accursed by saints and upright mortals. Their life span will be curtailed as a consequence of their sinful lives.

 65:21 (1) “And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

 65:22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: (2) for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall (3) long enjoy the work of their hands.”

(1) In these two verses there are two positive declarations and again two matching negative ones that provide absolute assurance. In the immediate past, in Isaiah’s own life-time there had been threats from the Syrio-Israel alliance (Isa 7–8), and more particularly the disastrous Assyrian invasion by Sennacherib (Isa 36–37), and the future would be no different. Indeed, such will be the case right up to the intervention of Christ and the saints! But then Christ’s reign of peace will commence, and there will be blessings, undisturbed by tyrants and hostile nations, as depicted here (cp 2 Sam 7:10; Mic 4:1–8; Amos 9:13–15).

The building of houses speaks of permanence and security; the planting of vineyards, which take time to mature require settled conditions (Zech 8:12, 13). Contrast this with the curses to befall those who disobey (Deut 28:30).

(2) Again the emphasis is on durability and longevity.

(3) “Shall long enjoy” literally means, “will wear out”?! But the sense is that they will ‘use to the full’, ‘live to enjoy the full use of ’.

 65:23 “(1) They shall not labour in vain, (2) nor bring forth for trouble [RSV mg sudden terror]; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their (3) offspring with them.”

(1) No trouble will mar their labours, their enjoyment of the work of their hands. Nor will their children be born, “doomed to misfortune” (NIV). January–February 2014 The Lampstand Again note how this contrasts with the curses to come if disobedient (Deut 28:32–34).

(2) No greater grief can overtake a parent than to see a beloved child, upon whom love and hope are set, suffer or be taken in tragedy. This will not happen in the new Jerusalem because the children of his chosen, the saints, “the blessed of the LORD”, will enjoy His special care and providence, along with their parents.

(3) Heb tseetsa from the root yatsa, to go out; that is, they are the direct descendants of the saints and will share their blessings and be seen to be one with them.

There will not be marriage and procreation among saints in the Kingdom, for they will be immortal like the angels (Luke 20:35, 36). Their offspring, not baptised prior to the Lord’s advent, will in the Father’s mercy receive His special care, protection and divine education: as Abraham’s seed, Israel was beloved and blessed for the father’s sakes (Rom 11:28), so will the children of saints.

62:24 “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

Prayers offered in accordance with the Father’s will are answered (1 John 5:14, 15). Such will be the prayers of saints in the Kingdom, for there will be a oneness of purpose with their God and His beloved Son: what they ask for will immediately commend itself to Him for response and action; and in order to dramatise this, the response will be forthcoming even while the words are being uttered!

 62:25 (1) “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and (2) dust shall be the serpent’s meat. (3) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.”

(1) This is a picture of Eden restored (Ezek 36:35, 36). Peace and harmony are restored and old enmities annulled. No more graphic description of the coming ‘peace on earth and goodwill toward men’ can be imagined than the picture here of traditional enemies, their natures changed, and then living together: the carnivores will become herbivores, former predators and prey will feed alongside each other (cp 11:6–9)! And cannot these words have an application to the ferocious enemies, the nations that have afflicted God’s people?

(2) The only point in the whole of the new creation where there is no change relates to the serpent, the primary source and symbol of sin. The sentence pronounced upon it in Eden still stands: “dust shall be the serpent’s meat” (Gen 3:14).

(3) Here, too, in this glorious phrase the positive picture of the wolf and the lamb etc, being at one, is enhanced by this negative statement outlawing all that harms and destroys! And the primary location for the institution of such world-shattering transformations is Yahweh’s holy mountain; Zion will be the source of divine education and enlightenment, when the Son of God, Sin’s conqueror, will “reign before his ancients gloriously” (Isa 24:23).