Isaiah 63:7–66:24. The Big Picture Includes the Gentiles.

Key Notes: Isaiah prays for his country. God's response is to turn to the Gentiles! The nations. Our righteousness is.... New heavens and new earth. Where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

The end of Isaiah starts with a prayer by the prophet, and ends with God's response. The prayer is poignant; the answer is largely unexpected. The final word is in fact ominous.

Isa.64:7–64:12 The Prayer of Isaiah.

64:7–9 Isaiah starts by talking to God about God, ascribing to Him mercy, praise, great goodness and steadfast love. God saved them "by the Angel of His Face" and carried them "as a man carries his son" (Deut.1:31) through the wilderness.

63:10–14 They rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit again and again (a dozen desert rebellions plus the eight cycles of decadence in the Judges), but God remembered how through Moses He led them through the Sea and like cattle through the Jordan into the promised rest.

63:15–19 God's love is now turned away although He is Israel's Father--even Abraham disowns us. May God return and rule over them again, those who are called by His Name. (Israel means a Prince with God).

64:1–4 If God would only rend the skies and come down, making the wood and fire vaporize, as did Elijah on Mt. Carmel (IK.18). If only the mountains would tremble again as at Mt. Sinai. Ex.19

64:5–7 Confession continues: we have been a long time in our sin. All our righteousness is like filthy rags; we are unclean, fading like a leaf, and our iniquities blow us away. People do not call on the name of the Lord because God has hidden His face.

64:8–12 The final plea: God is Father, the potter. Israel is the child, the clay, His people. But the land is in ruins and the temple burned with fire. [Did that happen only in 586BC and 70AD?] Will God keep silence and keep on afflicting them?

65:1–66:24 The Response of God.
65:1–7 God is turning to the Gentiles. This is a stunning and unlooked-for response. He calls out His presence, "Here am I", to people who are not looking for Him.
All day long He has held out His hands to rebellious Israelites who are intent on carrying out pagan rituals, thinking themselves holy.

65:8–12 But for His servants' sake, He will not destroy all of Israel.
When the grapes are collected and some are bruised and leaking juice, the vineyard workers sing "Do not destroy." This is an ascription found on Psa.57,58,59,75; probably a common song. So God will save His chosen, but those who worship Fortune (the god Gad) will be destroyed. [Beware the lotteries, the casinos and the sports pools.]

65:13–16 His servants (5x) will prosper; "you" will suffer corresponding loss. The servants will be called by a different name (?"disciples" ? "Christians").

65:17–25 In the Age to Come God will rejoice over Jerusalem. Her citizens will have long lives, and work without futility. The natural order will be restored; neither animals nor man will be predators.

66:1–4 God has contempt for temple and sacrifice. The humble and contrite, the "word-tremblers" have His attention. The rest did not listen when He called and they will have their worst fears realized.

66:5–6 Those who sneer at the righteous will be put to shame.

66:7–9 Can we imagine that a new nation would be born in a day? Could God bring it to birth and not to life?

66:10–14 God will make Jerusalem not only a sink for the riches of the world, but a source, like a mother nourishing babies.

66:15–17 God comes with fire and sword to execute judgment on the human race, with emphasis on holy pagans.

66:18–21 God will reveal His glory to the nations and their survivors will go to the ends of the earth to proclaim that glory. They will bring Israel's brethren to pilgrimage in Jerusalem. Some of them (Gentiles) will be His priests.

66:22–24 In the New Age, new heavens and earth, Israel's name and descendents will continue and they, with the Gentiles, will worship God monthly and weekly. The rebels will be in Gehenna, in torment.

Our prayers to God should start with praise (63:7). Is it hard for us to talk to God about Himself? That is the nature of adoration. We cannot say enough good things about people we admire and love. We cheer the victories of our sports teams.

We see veiled references to the Trinity:
"The angel of His Presence (His Face) saved them." (63:9)
"…but they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit." (63:10)
"Where is He who put in the midst of them His Holy Spirit?" (63:11)
"...who caused His glorious Arm to go at the right hand of Moses." (63:12)

"Why do you make us harden our heart so that we fear Thee not?" (63:17).
How does God's appeal negatively affect people? Pharaoh is our case-study in judicial hardening. Twice it is said that Pharaoh hardened his heart (Ex.8:15,32); then three times God hardened Pharaoh's heart. (Ex.9:12; 10:20,27).

When any appeal is repeatedly refused, the person may come to the point of irreversible rejection. Then the appeal has the opposite effect. On the other hand, God continues to work with those who are stubbornly reluctant, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus or C.S. Lewis.
Isaiah asks God to rend the Heavens and come down. (64:1). He sent star and angels at Jesus' birth. The spoken voice of God at His baptism announced Jesus' coming. Jesus was transfigured in the presence of disciples.
Jesus gave the answer to the rich man's plea for a visitation from Lazarus to his brothers (Lk.16:27-). He said they would not respond if one came from the dead--which He did--and He was right.

The woes of sin: (Isa.64:5,6). These are much-quoted lines.
"We are in our sins for a long time.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteousness is like filthy rags.
We all fade like a leaf
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."

Being in sin for a long time allows the accumulation of corruption such that the scandals of the '20's were mild in comparison to the grosser evils of the '90's. We are not shocked as we should be.

The Gentiles come into clear view here. "The nations" are often mentioned in Isaiah, starting with Isa.2:2.
"In the latter days the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains...and all the nations shall flow to it." (2:2)
"I said 'Here am I, Here am I' to a nation that did not call on My Name." (65:1)
"but He will call his servants by a different name". {The Name of the Servant, Christ-ones?} (54:15)
“I am coming to gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and shall see My glory...." (66:18)
"...they shall declare My glory among the nations." (66:19
"And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD." (.66:21) This would not be said if the holy ones came from Israel; that would be obvious.
"...all flesh shall worship before me." (66:23)

God's turning to the Gentiles was fulfilled in NT times.
Some Greeks came to see Jesus. Jesus said "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (Jn.12:20)
Paul's mission to the Gentiles was directed by God. Acts 11:18; 15:23; 22:21; 28:28

The reasons for turning to the Gentiles is explained at length in Romans 9–11, where Israel is an example of God's sovereignty.
•Israel pursued righteousness by law instead of faith, stumbling over Christ. Rom.9:19–33
•Israel's rejection was not total; there has always been a remnant. (Rom.11:1–10). Disraeli and Mendelssohn are conspicuous examples.
•Israel's disobedience and rejection was the Gentile opportunity (Rom.11:11–24) because Jewish leaders never would allow Gentile Christians to come to God except through the Law. (See Galatians.)
•Israel will be saved at the end. Rom.11:25-

Isa.65:3–6 The pagan practices are obscure. They are not sin as we know it, but involve worship of other gods. However, we recognize "the table set for Fortune" (Isa.65:11) and we know not to go there.

Isa.65:8–16 After the Servant Poems, the "servants" are talked about starting at Isa.54:17: "this is the heritage of the servants of the LORD." Previously "witnesses" was the word. (Isa.43:10). This is the new name for the people of the Remnant, the Israel of God.

Isa.65:20 "No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days or an old man who does not fill out his days..." We ask whether people will die during the Millennium. Those who are found worthy of the First Resurrection do not die. but Death and Hades are not destroyed until after the Millennium. (Rev.21:14). So we suppose that those born during the Millennium will live long, but not eternally.

When the prophet belittles the sacrifices and festivals in favor of the humble and contrite heart (Isa.1:12–17;  58;1–7; 66:1–4) he may be preparing the people for the disappearance of the system. Solomon's Temple was destroyed in 586BC. After 516BC, when the temple was rebuilt, the ark of the covenant was not replaced and the Holy of Holies stood empty, although some believe the altar of incense was moved in to replace it. After 70AD, the Herod's Temple was destroyed, and sacrifices ceased entirely. We believe that this was because the Completed Sacrifice had been made. To this day, the Jewish services use the Torah as the worship-focus.

Will the sacrifices ever be resumed? Perhaps. (Mal.3:3,4; Ezek.44:11–31)

Isa.66:8 Shall a nation be born in a day? Who ever heard of such a thing? Some relate this prophecy to the reappearance of the State of Israel in’48. Actually, many nation-states were born after WWII, carved from old colonial empires. Israel was only the first.

Isa.66:24 But what about eternal punishment? God must tell us that as wonderful as the New Jerusalem will be, there is a Hell to be shunned as well. Jesus quoted this passage two or three times. (Mk.9:44 , 46, 48). We would be better evangelists if we understood the bad news as well as the good news.

Preach the Word.

This is the end of our beginning study of Isaiah. May you come back many times. God will bless you again and again.