And a rousing finale — Isaiah 65,66

When I read the last couple of chapters of Isaiah, I always feel like I’ve been to a great musical concert, where the last piece ends with a great swell of volume, virtuoso performances, soaring melody, perfect and complex harmony, and a great cymbal crash at the end — leaving the audience with no option but to immediately rise as one to give a standing ovation! I feel this way not just because Isaiah is a wonderful wordsmith, but because of the content of these last two chapters.

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name. I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,” Isaiah 65:1, 2 — This is a passage that Paul quotes in his explanation of what had happened with regard to Israel’s status with God: God, though He still loves Israel, has now called the Gentiles (the nations), and now included them in the Chosen. Not all of Israel turned away, of course; Paul himself was Jewish, as were the rest of the apostles and all the early converts. However, as a general rule, the Jews (following the lead of their leaders) rejected the Cornerstone, the Messiah,  sadly and ironically clinging to a covenant which can only condemn…

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Romans 7:6-12, NAS95.

“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” Galatians 2:15, 16, NAS95.

…and rejecting the covenant that thoroughly forgives and cleanses:

“But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:23-29, NAS95.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. … And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. …The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.” Isaiah 65:17-25 — If some of this sounds like something that came out of Revelation, you’re doing well — Revelation’s description is close…

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1, NAS95.

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”” Revelation 21:4, NAS95.

And the reference at the end of the serpent’s food being dust is nothing more or less than a reference to the ultimate defeat of Satan, mentioned in Genesis 3:14, 15 and again in Revelation 12:9,13-17; 20:10. It is nothing less than paradise regained!

“Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy.” Isaiah 66:7 — Here’s an interesting passage that speaks of the suddenness of the Messianic appearance and His kingdom. The fulfillment (especially the birth of a nation in one day part) happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), when Jewish believers in Jesus became the new Zion, the new Israel. Interestingly enough, Rabbi Samuel Ben Nahman notes in Babylonian Sanhedrin folio 97:1 that the Messiah would be born before a great tribulation (for example, Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70) by citing this very verse.

““Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”” Isaiah 66:24 — This passage is clearly quoted by Jesus in Mark 9:48 as Jesus speaks about the punishment awaiting those who fail to make the hard choices in favor of the Kingdom — Hell. The allusion to the worm and the fire is to the valley of Hinnom, just south of the city. This valley had not only had been the location of many of the most heinous acts of pagan idolatry, and therefore a place of profound impurity; but had also become the city garbage dump — a place of perpetual rottenness, decay, and burning. There aren’t many references in the Old Testament to Hell, but this is a clear one. Clearly the point here is to make sure that we are among the remnant, the new nation, the Chosen composed of all nations.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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