Summary: In Isaiah 65 and 66, Isaiah presents the contrast between man’s fickleness and God’s faithfulness.
So far, we’ve spent five weeks in the Book of Isaiah, focusing on how Isaiah describes the “Day of the Lord”. As I’ve pointed out during that time, much of what Isaiah writes deals with various aspects of the “Day of the Lord”, so all we’ve really been able to do is to look at a few brief snapshots that give us a pretty good overall picture of Isaiah’s perspective. We’re going to wrap up our look at Isaiah over the next two weeks by looking at the last two chapters of the book – chapters 65 and 66.
But before we dig into those passages, we need to make sure that we set the stage properly by understanding the context. Beginning in Isaiah 63:7, we find a prayer of Isaiah that is offered up to God in response to all that has been revealed about the “Day of the Lord”. Isaiah ends that prayer with a plea for God’s mercy at the end of chapter 24:
8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12 Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?
Isaiah 64:8-12 (ESV)
Given what we’ve seen about the “Day of the Lord” in Isaiah, this prayer is certainly appropriate. Isaiah has frequently described the “Day of the Lord” as the “day of vengeance” and we’ve seen the utter destruction and desolation that is to occur as the result of God’s judgment. So Isaiah pleads for God’s mercy and asks that God would restrain Himself.
Chapters 65 and 66 are God’s answer to that prayer. We’ll look at chapter 65 this morning and chapter 66 next week.
Chapter 65 contains three major sections which we’ll examine one at a time.
FICKLENESS OF MAN (vv. 1-7)
God responds to Isaiah’s prayer by pointing out that the people do not deserve to experience the mercy of God because they have been fickle and rejected Him repeatedly:
1 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here am I, here am I,”
to a nation that was not called by my name.
2 I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3 a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and making offerings on bricks;
4 who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat pig’s flesh,
and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;
5 who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all the day.
6 Behold, it is written before me:
“I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their bosom
7 both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they made offerings on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills,
I will measure into their bosom
payment for their former deeds.”
In these verses, God reveals what He has done in order to establish a relationship with His people, and how the people responded to his actions:
• God initiated the relationship with His people
In verses 1 and 2, it is obvious that God is the one who initiated the relationship with His people. Even when His people weren’t seeking Him out, He was seeking them. In other words, even though the people had done absolutely nothing to try and develop a relationship with God nor had they done anything to even merit the possibility of such a relationship, God had done what was required to provide the means for a relationship.
God had done that because it is His nature to do so. But God didn’t just do that for the people of Israel and Judah, He has done the very same thing for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to this earth in order to provide the means of a relationship with Him:
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.