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Isaiah 65:1 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- The idol worshipping exiles still sought Yahweh (s.w. Ez. 14:3; 20:3,31). The nation not called by Yahweh's Name would be Israel who were unknown to Abraham and Jacob and who were as if Yahweh's Name had not been called upon them, "as those who were not called by Your name" (Is. 63:16,19). The people in view are those of :2,3, who are clearly Israel. But Yahweh was willing to be sought and found by them even in that state. God set them up with the possibility to return to Judah, to establish there a Messianic-style Kingdom, giving them the commands in Ez. 40-48 for a glorious temple; but most of them preferred the soft life in Babylon, and those who did return proved small minded, selfish and disinterested in the vision of God's glory. In this context, Isaiah ends his restoration prophecies on a tragic note from God: "I was ready to be sought... I was ready to be found" (Is. 65:1) by the unspiritual exiles in Babylon. But Israel would not. He pictures Himself standing there crying "Here am I, here am I!"- to be rejected by a people more interested in climbing the endless economic and social ladder in Babylon and Persia.

Yet Paul appears to quote these words out of context, at first blush, applying them to the calling of the Gentiles who did not seek God (Rom. 10:20). But this is not so out of context; for as noted on Is. 63:19, apostate Israel were effectively as Gentiles. This calling of apostate Israel was the same therefore as the calling of the Gentiles. Although we can note that many Old Testament passages are quoted in the New Testament without strict attention to context.

Isaiah 65:2 I have spread out My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts-
LXX "After their own sins". Again we see the focus of the Biblical revelation upon thoughts and mental patterns as being the essence of sin. Our thoughts are our "way", and we walk in practice according to our way. This is why the gift of God's Spirit or thinking is so essential for real transformation. Otherwise we will continue in rebellion against God. 

Isaiah 65:3 A people who provoke Me to My face continually, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense on bricks-
The provocation was to God's face, or LXX "in My presence", as if the temple precincts were in view; or perhaps the Angel of His presence of Is. 63:9 is in view, whom they rebelled against and grieved by refusing to repent and return from Babylon. Perhaps they had placed bricks and a garden structure there in which they worshipped idols in the name of Yahweh worship. And the context is of the failure of the restored exiles; despite all the Godly influence of Ezra and Nehemiah, this is what was going on in the early generations after the exiles returned.

We note that Is. 65:3 LXX is clear that demons don't exist: “[Israel] burn incense on bricks to demons, which exist not”. The idols of the nations, representing as they did the supposed ‘demons’ of the cosmos, were “vanity” because what the demons and gods they supposedly represented did not exist – they are “beings that are nothing” (1 Sam. 12:21 LXX), “a thing of nought” (Jer. 14:4). See on :11; Is. 66:17.

Isaiah 65:4 Who sit among the graves and lodge in the secret places; who eat pig’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels-
This seems to refer to various idol rituals, LXX "They lie down to sleep in the tombs and in the caves for the sake of dreams". The "vessels" may have been those of the temple which were returned from Persia to Jerusalem. Legion's situation was clearly presented as alluding to this verse; his madness was that of the returned exiles in their idolatry. His cure therefore looks forward as an acted parable to the final psychological healing of Israel through the work of the spirit of the Lord Jesus.

Isaiah 65:5 Who say, ‘Stand by yourself, don’t come near to me, for I am holier than you’. These are a smoke in My nose, a fire that burns all the day-
"Stand by yourself" translates the common Hebrew term "draw near", which is that commonly used about drawing near to Yahweh in worship and offering. So the idea is that others were being told that they could do their worship "by yourself" and not with those who considered themselves spiritually superior (LXX "I am pure", see on Is. 66:17)- even though they were offering unclean offerings to Yahweh themselves (:4). This shows that the mentality of 'guilt by association' has always been engrained amongst God's people. It takes away any sense of self-examination and self awareness. For those saying this to the faithful remnant were idolaters and seriously morally compromised. This hypocrisy provoked the strongest wrath in God, and we must remember that whenever the guilt by association mentality emerges in our own thinking. See on Is. 66:5.

Isaiah 65:6 Behold, it is written before Me-
Such self righteousness, insisting they were pure and condemning others when they were such idolaters, was what so deeply incited Yahweh's anger. Isaiah's words were written before God; the word spoken and preserved through Isaiah was and is also written in Heaven before God.

I will not keep silence, but will recompense, yes, I will recompense into their bosom- Their judgment will be according to what they did (Is. 59:18; 65:6); although Jer. 16:18 says that some will be recompensed double. By contrast, the exiles were not receiving punishment according as their deeds deserved, but less (Ezra 9:13). These different degrees of recompense suggest that Divine judgment is far more complex than a simple 'measure for measure'. The greater complexity is because He weighs motives and inflexions of meaning attached to actions which all require different judgments. And then on top of that, there is the credit He gives for forgiveness, and for the prayers and faith of others influencing the final outcome of judgment in any given case.

Isaiah 65:7 Your own iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, says Yahweh, who have burned incense on the mountains, and blasphemed Me on the hills; therefore will I first measure their work into their bosom-
We doubt whether the Jews literally uttered blasphemy against Yahweh on the idol shrines in the mountains or hills. But that was the implication of their worshipping other gods, and Yahweh heard their actions as speaking like this. I suggested on :3 that this idolatry may have been taking place in the temple; therefore "mountains" and "hills" may be an intensive plural referring to the one great mount, the hill of Zion where the temple was located. Thus in :9 "My mountains" (AV) become LXX "My holy mountain" (singular). It was this category of idolater who also ordered the faithful remnant to worship away from (see on :5).

Isaiah 65:8 Thus says Yahweh, As the new wine is found in the cluster and one says, ‘Don’t destroy it, for a blessing is in it:’ so will I do for My servants’ sake, that I may not destroy them all-
The idea seems to be that the grape harvest was generally bad, but for the sake even of a minority, the vine of Israel would have been saved. Hence LXX "As a grape-stone shall be found in the cluster, and they shall say, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for the sake of him that serves me, for his sake I will not destroy them all". But it was this remnant which were being so abused by the hypocritical religious leadership; see on :5.

The shortening of the days for the sake of a remnant is predicted in Is. 65:8,9: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed [Jesus] out of Jacob… and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there”. The “elect” are paralleled with “my servants”. Because of them, the minority of faithful fruit, the whole tree is not destroyed. This is exactly the image of the fig tree parable; because of the beginnings of spiritual fruit on the tree of Israel, the whole nation will not be cut off and they will be saved by the coming of the Kingdom. The Lord’s description of the shortening of the days uses some rather odd past tenses: “Except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect’s sake…he shortened the days” (Mk. 13:20 RV). One wonders if we have here an allusion back to the days of Noah, where again there was the possibility that no flesh would have been saved. The 150 days of flooding is perhaps the basis of Rev. 9:10, where Israel is to have 150 days of tribulation at the hands of her Arab enemies in the last days. The connection between the passages would therefore seem to be teaching that the final 150 days tribulation will be shortened due to the repentance of the remnant.

Isaiah 65:9 I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains; and My chosen shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there-
See on :8. AV: “And I will bring forth a seed [singular] out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor [singular] of my mountains: and mine elect [plural] shall inherit it, and my servants [plural] shall dwell there”. His obedience would enable the peoples’ establishment as the Kingdom, upon the "mountains", perhaps an intensive plural for the one great mountain, Zion. See on Is. 66:21. Or as with LXX, the reference could be to Yahweh's intention to lead the repentant Judah out of Babylon to the "mountains", the one great mount, Zion: "And I will lead forth the seed that came of Jacob and of Juda, and they shall inherit my holy mountain" (see on :7).

The reason why there are no accusers against us, not even our own sins, is because we are “God’s elect” (Rom. 8:33). The supreme chosen one of God was of course the Lord Jesus, “My elect, in whom My soul delights” (Is. 42:1). And yet later on in the servant songs of Isaiah, "My elect” clearly refers to the people of Israel (Is. 45:4; 65:9,22). The true Israel of God are therefore those counted as somehow “in” the elect one, the singular servant of God, Messiah Jesus. Those baptized into Him are therefore His elect. And how do we know we are “God’s elect”? If we are baptized into Christ, “mine elect”, then for sure we are. And further, we have heard the call of the Gospel, we have been called- so, we are God’s elect, His chosen ones. Of course the objection can be raised that the whole idea of calling or election may appear unfair. Indeed, the Greek word for “elect” can carry the idea of ‘the favoured / favourite one’.  There is no ultimate injustice here. The chosen One is the Lord Jesus, beloved for the sake of His righteousness, His spirit of life. Those who respond to the call to be “in Him” are counted likewise. And all this is the way, the method used, in order for God to be the one who counts us as right in the ultimate judgment- for “It is God that justifies”.

Isaiah 65:10 Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down in, for My people who have sought Me-
This mentions Achor [where Israel were judged for not possessing the land for the right motives] as a place of special blessing in the reestablished Kingdom of God on earth- it’s as if God’s grace rejoices in inverting things, pouring out His richest blessing upon the places of our darkest failures. And we in daily life, in the interactions we have with others, are asked to reflect this same kind of grace. As Hosea’s children were to be renamed, Lo-ammi becoming Ammi, so the valley of Achor would become a door of hope (Hos. 2:17), and Jezreel, scene of Israel’s rebellions, would become the place of joyful reconciliation between God and His people.

Isaiah 65:11 But you who forsake Yahweh, who forget My holy mountain, who prepare a table for Fortune, and who fill up mixed wine to Destiny-
see on Gen. 49:19. The hypocrisy of this group is stunning; they worshipped idols in the name of Yahweh worship, and yet disfellowshipped and persecuted the faithful remnant (see on :5). They 'forgot' Zion in that they didn't want to return there, and constructed a theology which allowed them to remain in Babylon and worship Yahweh through idol worship.

It is significant that the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) used the word daimonion for “idol”; this is the word translated “demon” in the New Testament. “Idols” in Ps. 96:5 is translated “demons” in the Septuagint; and the Septuagint uses the same word in Is. 65:11 to describe Gad, the Syrian god / idol of fortune. See on :3. GNB "who ignore Zion, my sacred hill, and worship Gad and Meni, the gods of luck and fate". It was not that they totally rejected Yahweh worship; rather they ignored Zion for the sake of the gods of the nations.

Isaiah 65:12 I will destine you to the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because when I called, you didn’t answer; when I spoke, you didn’t listen; but you did that which was evil in My eyes-
The tragedy was that if they had called to Yahweh, even despite all their sins, He would have heard them (see on :1). And although they didn't do that, He took the initiative and called to them through the prophets such as Ezekiel, who ministered to the exiles; and they refused to hear. They bowed down to their idols; and thereby were self-condemned, effectively bowing down to their own executions.

And chose that in which I didn’t delight- The context is their choice of sacrificing to idols; but in Is. 1:11 the same term is used of God's lack of delight in the sacrifices offered to Him. It seems that they worshipped the idols in the name of Yahweh worship. And this is an abiding temptation for all God's children- to worship our idols in the name of worshipping God.

Isaiah 65:13 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, My servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, My servants shall rejoice, but you shall be disappointed-
Is. 65:8-16; Is. 66:5 etc. speak of a minority of Jews who trembled at the word of prophecy and were Yahweh’s "servants", who had been disfellowshipped by the leaders of the Jewish community in Babylon (see on :5). The majority of the captives insisted, according to Ez. 18, that they hadn’t sinned, and they were suffering unjustly because of the sins of their fathers; whereas this righteous remnant in Babylon admitted that “we have sinned. Equally with them of old time have we transgressed” (Is. 64:5). They took the message of Ezekiel to heart- unlike the majority. And thus this was the sad end of the great plan developed by the God of all grace for His people in Babylon. They rejected it, and hated His servants who brought that good news to them. And so they would not partake of the Messianic banquet, being left hungry and thirsty whilst the "servants" drunk and ate at it, and finally being left "ashamed" [s.w. "disappointed"] in the shame of final condemnation.

Isaiah 65:14 Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit-
This is the weeping and gnashing of teeth of final condemnation. The wailing and anguish will be because they see ["behold"] the believers in the Kingdom, and themselves cast out (Lk. 13:28). The sense of the eternity they have missed, which could have been theirs, will be psychologically unbearable for them. This is far worse than any 'hell fire judgment' of popular but mistaken tradition.

Isaiah 65:15 You shall leave your name for a curse to My chosen-
This is the same threat in the context of the exiles as Jer. 29:22.

And the Lord Yahweh will kill you; and He will call His servants by another name- GNB "I will give a new name to those who obey me" is alluded to by the Lord Jesus, when He promises to write a "new name" upon all those who have been finally faithful, at the last day when He returns (Rev. 3:12). This is part of the wider theme of a new vocabulary being used at the time of the restoration (Is. 62:2,4,12), looking forward to the completely "new" naming and understanding of things in the future Kingdom.

Isaiah 65:16 So that he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he who swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth-
"The God of truth" is as LXX, "the true God" in comparison with the idols they worshipped (:11). The picture is of all peoples in the eretz promised to Abraham swearing only by Yahweh. This could have come true at the restoration, but was precluded by Judah's impenitence and failure to exhibit the Gospel to the Gentiles in the "earth".

Because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hidden from My eyes- This didn't come true at the restoration, but it will ultimately at the last day (Rev. 21:4). If we can accept that God allows His power (i.e. His omnipotence) to be limited, it becomes easier to accept that there are circumstances He allows His omniscience (i.e. His knowledge) to be limited. Thus the God who by nature cannot forget and for whom time is nothing, can therefore have the capacity to not remember our sins on account of the Lord’s death (Is. 63:25). God clearly speaks of limiting His omniscience in Is. 65:16, saying that “the former troubles… are hid from my eyes”.  God forgets our sins; and yet God knows everything that happens and is thought today, and also yesterday. And yet, He limits that total knowledge by forgetting our sins. In Amos 8:7 God swore He would never forget Israel's sin. Yet the same word is used in Is. 65:16 of how God hid their sin from His eyes. God restrained His omniscience. He erased His own permanent memory as it were.

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind-
The former things which would not be remembered refer primarily to Israel's sins. They would not be remembered in that they would be forgiven. For that is a common enough usage of the term 'not be remembered'. The new system ["heavens and earth", contrasting with the sinful heavens and earth of Judah in Is. 1] would be therefore without sin. That is the primary feature of this new creation. Is. 65:17-19 describes the new creation of Zion as it was possible at the restoration, when the former heavens and earth would not come into mind. The former “heavens” of Solomon’s temple did come to mind, and the old men mourned because of how far superior the former had been (Ezra 3:12). The voice of weeping was heard in the streets of Zion, as Judah mourned for their sins of marrying the surrounding nations and breaking the Sabbath. And so these things are applied in spiritual terms to the latter day, eternal Kingdom of God on earth.

Isaiah 65:18 But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy-
The new creation in view is of psychological attitudes within people, "joy", because the former things of their sins are not remembered against them (see on :17). And this new creation has started now in the hearts of all who allow God's creative Spirit to work in them (2 Cor. 5:17).

Isaiah 65:19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people-
This Divine rejoicing over God's people is that of the God who rejoices in fulfilling His covenant with His obedient people (Dt. 28:63; 30:9). It will be a mutual joy, with Yahweh's people rejoicing in Him (:18; s.w. Is. 61:10; 65:18) and He in them (Is. 62:5; 65:19) because they have entered the new marriage covenant with Him (Jer. 32:41).

And there shall be heard in her no more the voice of weeping and the voice of crying- See on :17. The "weeping" is that of the condemned in :14, or the weeping in repentance. They will weep but then be mercifully slain in the second death. And then the faithful will no longer hear this reminder of those who chose other gods.


Isaiah 65:20 There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man who has not filled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, and the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed-
This appears to describe the reestablished kingdom possible for the restored exiles. The simple idea is that lifespans would be greatly increased, although mortality would remain (see on :22). This didn't happen then, and so the essence of it will do so at the return of the Lord Jesus to ultimately restore the Kingdom. But the letter of it may not be fulfilled; for eternal life is what will then be given, and not simply increased mortal lifespans. We note that for a sinner to live a long time would be part of the severity of his judgment; to simply exist, rejected, whilst the Kingdom is established... is going to be a fate worse than death. It confirms the point the Lord makes several times- that the punishment of the wicked is going to be in terms of their own psychological trauma, weeping and gnashing of teeth in anger at themselves. Rather than any physical torture by gleeful saints or an angry God. It is for us now to realize this and to be wise, living the Kingdom life now, without reserve.


Isaiah 65:21 They shall build houses and inhabit them themselves; and they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit-
The idea is as in :22, that they would not build and then lose what they had worked for to others. But very few houses were built in Zion, because the people preferred to live on their farms, in their cieled houses, outside the city (Nehemiah 7:4). They planted vineyards, but sold the fruit to others- on the Sabbath (Neh. 13:15,16). The possible fulfilment in a reestablished Kingdom of God at the time of the restoration was thus again precluded. The essence, although maybe not the literal letter of all this, will come true in the eternal Kingdom to be established at the Lord's return. Then, there will be ultimate satisfaction in existence; and the eternal enjoyment of the fruit of the lives we are now living. We are therefore moulding right now the nature of our eternity. It's not that our works shall save us, but that we will live with the eternal fruits of what we do for the Lord's cause and people in this very brief life. See on :22.

Isaiah 65:22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people, and My chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands-
LXX "they shall long enjoy the fruits of their labours". See on :21. This phrase is alluded to by Paul when he reflects that his labour for others spiritually will result in him seeing the fruit of his labour (Phil. 1:22). This will be the fruit of the righteous in the eternal Kingdom- seeing the eternal effect of their work for others. The initial fulfilment could have been in increased lifespans ["as the days of a tree", not eternal, but long] in the Kingdom of God in Israel which could have been reestablished at the restoration from Babylon (see on :20). But Israel's impenitence precluded this. And so the essence of it will be fulfilled at the return of the Lord Jesus, although to a far greater extent- eternal life, rather than enjoying the fruit of good works for a long time ["long enjoy"], as the days of a tree, which all the same dies at some point.

Isaiah 65:23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for calamity; for they are the seed of the blessed of Yahweh, and their offspring with them-
As explained on :22, the labour in view can be understood as our spiritual labour for others, which we will then perceive was not in vain. Again, Paul has this phrase in view about our work in Christ not being in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

If we choose the way of the flesh, it will be travail for nothing, bringing forth in vain (this is seen here as a characteristic of all worldly life). But the day of the Lord will result in the wicked being "in pain as of a woman that travaileth" (Is. 13:8; 1 Thess. 5:3). The Lord seems to have alluded to this when He spoke of how the faithful just before His coming would be like a woman in travail, with the subsequent joy on delivery matching the elation of acceptance at Christ's return (Jn. 16:21). So, it's travail- or travail, especially in the last days. We either cut off the flesh now (in spiritual circumcision), or God will cut us off. This point was made when the rite of circumcision was first given: "The uncircumcised [un-cut off] man... shall be cut off" (Gen. 17:14).

Isaiah 65:24 It shall happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear-
This speaks of the closer relationship with God possible under the new covenant. This could have been the exiles' experience had they accepted that new covenant. But they refused that. And so the essence of it comes true for we who have accepted the new covenant (Mt. 6:8). And this will be even moreso in the future, eternal experience of the Kingdom of God. Our focus should be more on the quality and nature of the Kingdom life, rather than the mere eternity of it.

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox-
Perhaps the curse of Eden was to be ameliorated in the restored Kingdom. But wild animals are frequently used in the prophets as symbols of Israel's aggressive neighbours (see on Is. 5:5), with Israel and Judah presented as lamb and ox. But in the restored Kingdom, these tensions amongst the nations within the eretz would have been no more; this is the force of "feed together". This didn't come about, but it shall eternally do so at the Lord's return. The lions in Is. 5:29,30 clearly represent the Babylonians and Assyrians; but here the prophetic hope was that the lion would be tamed and live in Zion, the holy mountain. The vision was of Judah's enemies being judged and repenting, and coming to live in the restored Kingdom. f Israel's enemies would become harmless, and through repentance as a result of their judgment, come to live in God's restored Kingdom. This was precluded at Isaiah's time by Hezekiah's wrong attitude to the Babylonians, and Judah serving their gods rather than bringing them to Israel's God. And so the prophecy will come to a much grander fulfilment in the future kingdom of the Lord Jesus on earth.

And dust shall be the serpent’s food- The allusion is to Gen. 3:14, as if to say that there will be an eternal reminder of the past existence of sin and its judgment. Snakes don't eat dust, but their location in the dust may give that impression. The idea is that the serpent will as it were remain 'down'.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says Yahweh- The situation in view was still confined to Yahweh's "holy mountain", Zion. The initial intention of the prophecies was that the Kingdom would be reestablished in Judah and Zion when the exiles returned from Babylon. But Dan. 2:44 had spoken of the returned exiles as a stone becoming a mountain which would fill the eretz. That didn't happen at the time, and so a far more glorious and global extension of the "mountain" of God's Kingdom came into view, through the work of the Lord Jesus.