Isaiah Chapter 65: Sins of Israel, The Kingdom Come

Jan 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Isaiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Isa. 65:1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.

The RSV is better: “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 did not call on my name.” God was speaking to natural Israel, to a nation that did NOT call on His name when He figuratively kept calling to them and was ready to assist them: “Behold me.” “Here am I.”

Isa. 65:2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;

All day long God spread out both of His hands to rebellious Israel. As they willfully and noisily walked in their own way, He was trying to hush them, as it were, and attract—even demand— their attention, but the people ignored Him.

Isa. 65:3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;

Israel provoked God by sacrificing in gardens; that is, they not only worshipped heathen gods but usually did so in a conspicuous or prominent place such as high on a mountain. Israel also provoked God by burning incense on brick altars. Very often the incense and cakes were offered to Ashtoreth, the “queen of heaven.” This ancient mother god corresponds with Isis of Egypt and Mary of the Catholic religion. In fact, many lands have a version of a mother god.

The Israelites baked cakes to her as a meal offering.

The “gardens” were actually groves. In Isaiah’s day, individuals or families made a grove, or garden, on their property for statuary, or images, to serve as their own little “church” for worshipping heathen gods. Wealthier people built altars or images in groves in high places (on mountains). Examples of a comparable custom today would be to place a statue in a garden or on the front lawn or to pray before a crucifix in a bedroom.

Not only is incense not used much in this country, but the pungent odor is often repugnant to people today. However, incense is still used in the Middle East and Asia. Burning incense and having a place for prayer are not wrong in and of themselves, but to use these to worship one other than God is wrong. Under the Tabernacle arrangement, incense was burned in the Holy.

The criticism here is against a manufactured type of worship—against man-made gardens and bricks. The Israelites were utilizing man-made gimmicks, whereas the Old Testament said to use natural field stones. Under the Law, the Israelites were prohibited from using tools on the stones comprising an altar. Bricks were forbidden because they came from man-made molds.

Isa. 65:4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

Why did the Israelites sit in tombs and among graves and lodge in monuments? They wanted to communicate with the dead, and they thought that being in close proximity would facilitate the communication. They used occult methods (necromancy, spiritism, etc.) to communicate with the spirit world instead of asking God what His will was. This is another example of human inventiveness and manufacture, which in antitype would be man’s attempt to justify himself.

The Israelites ate “swine’s flesh” (pork) contrary to their Law. Actually pork is one of the most nutritious meats, and Christians can eat pork because they are not under the Law Covenant. For the Jew, however, pork is ceremonially unclean. Incidentally, heathen religions often considered the pig, especially the suckling pig, to be a sacred animal and offered it for sacrifice.

“Broth of abominable things is in their vessels.” In Egypt, Indonesia, and elsewhere is the whirling dervish religion. At the height of the whirling dervish dances, some are enabled by occult power to eat live scorpions; this act supposedly demonstrates their holiness. Insects are frequently eaten in the Middle East, and they are highly nutritious. Under the Law, many kinds of insects could be eaten, and others were considered ceremonially unclean. John the Baptist ate locusts, a form of grasshopper that is quite nutritious. Here in verse 4, God was criticizing the Israelites for eating a broth, soup, or stew that contained ceremonially unclean things. No doubt they added these items to increase the nutrition of the soup, but they were disobeying God’s Law. The point is that the Israelites did what they wanted regardless of God’s instruction.

Whatever they liked, they ate. When God stretched out His hands to reason with them, they ignored Him and His Law.

Isa. 65:5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

Especially the religious element, the scribes and the Pharisees, had the attitude of being “holier than thou.” This element took an opposite view from the common people, the publicans and the sinners, who were careless and ignored God’s instruction, eating what they pleased. Instead the scribes and Pharisees bent over backwards to obey outwardly and added burdens (traditions) to the Law. For instance, they taught that certain rituals or ceremonies had to be followed before eating. Jesus criticized their attitude, saying, “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things…. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition” (Mark 7:8,9,13). On another occasion, the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do you eat with sinners?” They ate only with their own kind at a separate table, considering themselves to be too holy to eat with ordinary people. They had an inordinate view of this subject.

To illustrate, consider Ezekiel 44:19, “And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments.” When the priests go from the Inner Court of the future Third Temple to the Outer Court, they are to change their clothing because the Lord does not want them to sanctify the people. However, the religious element exaggerated such instructions to mean they should never fraternize or communicate with the common people. What the instruction actually means is that in matters of religious worship, the priests were to be separate, but in public, in the world, they could mix. This principle is also true for the Christian. The Church is in the world, but the world should not be in the Church. The Apostle Paul said, “I wrote unto you … not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world” (1 Cor. 5:9,10). In other words, if this principle is carried too far, if the Christian tries to avoid all fornication, refusing to sit at a table or work with unconsecrated fornicators, drunkards, etc., he will have to leave the world, but if anyone who is called a brother practices such sin, he should not be fraternized with.

Instead of getting the proper lesson, the scribes and Pharisees thought they were a separate and sanctimonious class. Jesus called them hypocrites and blind guides who strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel (Matt. 23:23,24). They were very particular about certain matters (they measured out the tithes and the cumin), but on other matters of the Law (judgment, mercy, and faith), they were way off-base. The problem was that they were not properly instructed by the judgment, mercy, and faith. They obeyed the traditions of men (the Talmud, etc.) more than the instructions of God.

“These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” The smell of smoke is acrid and unpleasant, and if thick, the smoke adversely affects breathing. In fact, in many fires, it is the smoke that kills people, the lack of oxygen, rather than the fire itself. Verse 5 is saying that Israel’s wrong practices, their iniquities, were a continual smoke in Jehovah’s nostrils. Their burning incense to false gods highly displeased God continually. It is true that none of us are righteous, for we are all born in sin and “shapen in iniquity,” and no one can stand before God in his own righteousness (Rom. 3:10; Psa. 51:5). However, if we try to obey God, it will be infrequent that we displease Him. To be “a fire that burneth all the day” means that the Israelites continually displeased God; they did not try to obey but constantly practiced sin.

Isa. 65:6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,

The statement “Behold, it is written before me” can be understood from two standpoints.

While “it is written” in the sense that God said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” it is also written in the sense that He does not lightly consider such infractions by His professed people, even though the infractions are seemingly done with impunity (Rom. 12:19). God takes note of their deeds—deeds of kindness and justice as well as deeds of cruelty and injustice. A record is being kept, and all are accountable for their deeds according to their degree of understanding. Accordingly, all will be rewarded or punished in due time. See the following Scriptures: Psa. 10:14; 56:8; Prov. 5:21; 15:3; Eccl. 12:14; 2 Chron. 16:9; Job 34:21,22; Jer. 32:19; Zech. 4:10; Rom. 2:5,6; 1 Tim. 5:24,25; Heb. 4:13.

Isa. 65:7 Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.

Notice how the iniquities of their “fathers” were brought into this context. Isaiah was saying to the people of his day, “You, as well as your fathers, are guilty of these iniquities.” In other words, the sins had been accumulating throughout the generations—their sins and the sins of their fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, etc. Individually, all are accountable. Although it may appear that God is indifferent to sin, He does not wink the eye in the final analysis. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). However, in His mercy He has provided for all to have an opportunity in the Kingdom to mend their ways.

“Therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.” Like verse 6, this verse indicates that a personal record is being kept of everyone’s deeds, individual by individual and generation by generation.

Incense being burned “upon the mountains” refers to the larger gardens, the more public shrines, as opposed to the smaller individual or family gardens and groves down in the valleys.

Isa. 65:8 Thus saith the LORD, 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.

Why did God say, “Destroy not the cluster because of the new wine in it”? God could have permanently cast off the entire nation of Israel (the “cluster”), but because of the relatively few outstanding Jews (the Holy Remnant), He will save the nation. It is like seeing a vine that does not bring forth the abundance of fruit desired, but because of a few choice grapes here and there for new wine, the entire vine is not destroyed. And so in the near future, God will rescue Israel because of the Holy Remnant that is in it.

Isa. 65:9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.

In this context, God’s “elect” would be natural Israel, the Holy Remnant. Eventually the seed will include all who come in under the New Covenant.

Comment: Romans 11:28 uses the word “election” in referring to natural Israel: “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.”

Reply: Yes, the Romans text shows there is justification for applying “elect” to natural Israel here in Isaiah.

“I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains.” Jacob refers to the ten-tribe kingdom and Judah to the two-tribe kingdom. In other words, the future blessing and promise will come to the entire nation of Israel. While the ten-tribe kingdom deflected first, was cast off earlier, and had more obnoxious kings than the two-tribe kingdom, the Anglo-Israelites believe that only the ten tribes will be restored to favor. In fact, however, the Bible shows not only that God will restore favor to the two tribes as well as the ten tribes, but also that He will “save the tents of Judah first.” “The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah” (Zech. 12:7). The word “seed,” as used in this context, will be discussed under Isaiah 65:23.

Isa. 65:10 And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.

The land of Israel is divided topographically with Sharon being the plain portion, the lower, flat, broad expanse. The plain of Sharon will become “a fold of flocks.” This natural, or pastoral, picture shows that in the Kingdom, Israel will be a place of herds and flocks. Today in Israel, the Arabs and the Bedouins have flocks and herds but not the Jews. Life will be more natural and pastoral in the Kingdom than it is today.

Q: “Sharon” is a general term referring to a topographical division of Israel, but is the “valley of Achor” a more specific name?

A: Yes, the Valley of Achor is the area of Achor (Acre today).

Q: Why will so many animals be needed in the Kingdom?

A: Meat will be eaten in the Kingdom until the human race reaches perfection at the end of the Millennium. Animals will also be needed for milk and cheese.

Comment: In addition, animals will be used as sacrifices in the Third Temple services. When people come representatively from other nations to the Temple, they will not be able to bring animals with them.

Reply: Yes, Ezekiel Chapters 40–47 tell about the building of the Temple and the reinstitution of animal sacrifices on a limited scale.

Isa. 65:11 But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.

Isa. 65:12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.

What is the thought behind “troop” and “number”? The Revised Standard reads, “But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; I will destine you to the sword … because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in.” Two Syrian gods were called Fortune and Destiny. In mythology, obeisance was given to a particular god or gods (Fortune and Destiny in this case) according to the blessing desired. With the Hebrew word gad literally meaning “troop,” God was using sarcasm in a play on words with the names of the two Syrian gods.

Isa. 65:13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:

Isa. 65:14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.

Isa. 65:15 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:

Verses 13-15 refer to the Diaspora. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus illustrates a reversal of circumstances: Israel (the rich man) lost the blessing, abundance, and favor, and the Gentiles (the beggar, or Lazarus) gained the blessing. The parable prophetically shows the wide gulf that would exist between the two down through the Dark Ages and the persecuting, purgatorial experiences the Jews would have at the hands of Gentiles in Europe. Strangely enough, in the very nations where the Jews were persecuted and made the scapegoat, the “servants” rejoiced and sang “for joy of heart.” These “servants” were God’s people, Christians, but there are two kinds of Christians: the true and the merely nominal. True Christians had true joy and holiness and did not participate in the persecution, whereas nominal Christians, anti-Semitic in attitude, did the persecuting.

What an odd turn of events! Jesus was a Jew, and God’s name had been on Israel—but now came this strange reversal. Those who previously had God’s favor and wonderful opportunities lost them and experienced nothing but frustration and agony, whereas the former outcasts got the joy of the gospel. (Of course false Christians, who regarded the Jews as Christ killers, got a false joy. They took the stigma of the actual individuals involved in the Crucifixion and applied it indiscriminately to all Jews.) In summary, verses 13-15 contrast the sad experiences of the cast-off Jews experiencing Diaspora in the so-called Christian lands and the happy experiences of Christians.

Isa. 65:16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.

While the Jews received persecution down through the Gospel Age, that is not to be their eternal destiny. A change of thought begins here, and it is definitely stated in verse 17.

“That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth.” Why is the phrase “God of truth” mentioned twice? Many people in parts of the world other than “Christian” lands associate the wrong deeds of natural Israel and Christendom with the God of Israel, and thus condemn both. For example, at the 1846 Evangelical Alliance, representatives of countries like China and Japan pointed out that the gospel message is beautiful but that those who espouse Jesus’ teachings do not live and act accordingly. Muslim leaders have also scorned Christianity and its history, and Khomeini in particular singled out the pope for denunciation. Thus many of these other nations have cursed not only the so-called Christian nations but also Israel and Israel’s religion, Judaism. But verse 16 indicates a change taking place where one day the world will see that the God of Israel is indeed the true God, the God of truth. A better day is coming when the wrongs of the past will be rectified.

Isa. 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

The “new heavens” and “new earth” refer to the coming Kingdom, which is the time of Jesus’ reign, the resurrection of the dead, etc. Specifically, the “new heavens” represent the new powers of control, both civil and spiritual. The “new earth” would be those under the new rulership, those being governed underneath the new control of Messiah’s Kingdom.

Comment: The last part of this verse is interesting. “The former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” From the standpoint of the troubles mankind has experienced—troubles that have been overwhelming at times—the whole 6,000 years of the history of the human race are really but a tiny dot on the stream of time.

Reply: Yes, as the world looks back, its past history will seem like a nightmare, but even that nightmare will be forgotten.

Isa. 65:18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

“Jerusalem” can refer to the New Jerusalem, the spiritual Jerusalem, the invisible power of The Christ, who will reign over the earth. It can also refer to literal Jerusalem, from which the “word of the Lord” will go forth to other nations (Rev. 21:2; Isa. 2:3).

Isa. 65:19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

The primary emphasis of verse 19 is down here in the Kingdom. As the New Jerusalem comes down and establishes control, it will correspond with the earthly Jerusalem. This verse reminds us of some of the promises to the obedient inhabitants of the earth in the Kingdom and beyond, into the ages of ages: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psa. 30:5).

Isa. 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

In the Kingdom, in the “new heavens” and “new earth” era, there will “be no more thence an infant of days.” An “infant of days” is an infant who lives only a few days and then dies. In ancient times, the infant mortality rate was much higher than today. While the longevity rate of today, the average length of life, is considered to be so high, one factor is that the infant mortality rate is lower—that is, more people live longer today—but centenarians have existed all down through history, not just in our day. Therefore, in the Kingdom, infants and babies will not die but will continue to live until they meet up with the responsibilities of that time.

Neither will there be in the Kingdom “an old man that hath not filled his days.” Older people often say, “If only I could live my life over again,” meaning that in their senior years, their sense of values and their perspective have radically changed from those of their youth and even middle-age years. When they are old and ready for the grave, they are aware of many missed opportunities earlier in life. Some express regret that they did not respond more promptly to the Lord’s leadings and to the instruction in His Word. Hence millions of people who live to an old age still have not “filled” their days. In other words, they died dissatisfied because they felt their life was more or less a failure.

The autumn of the year with bright, colorful leaves is usually the best time of the year, yet a sadness is attached to it, because it presages winter. The autumnal years of life are much the same. There is a tinge of sorrow and yet beauty. And so the Bible refers to the “hoary head” as being a person of wisdom because, generally speaking, even if one did not respond properly to all of life’s experiences, he knows more than youth. “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Prov. 16:31).

In the Kingdom, in the time of the new heavens and the new earth, “there shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days.” What is the slant of this thinking? It is true that there will be a radical change from present conditions, but what is meant by the expression “the child shall die an hundred years old”? This verse is not talking about the many billions in the Kingdom who will get everlasting life but about those who do not make the grade, about the failures. The point is that those who are failures in the next age will have no excuse. Now infants can die a few days old never having done either good or evil and never having received the knowledge that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man. But in the next age, that child will come forth from the grave and be given a full opportunity to make good and get life. In fact, that child will live to be a hundred years of age, and then, if disobedient after such a long period of time, that individual will be cut off in permanent or Second Death. On the other hand, the old man who sowed his oats and did not obey God but wishes at the end of his life that he had lived differently will get a fresh opportunity when he is awakened out of death in the Kingdom. Then if, after a hundred years under that circumstance, a person still does not properly exercise himself, he will be cut off. In other words, no one, young or old, will have an excuse for not making good in the Kingdom. There will be neither an infant of days nor an older person who has not had a full, fair opportunity to get life.

Verse 20 is saying that the child, the “infant of days” who died shortly after birth, will live to be a hundred years old. The person who lived to old age in the present life will also be given a hundred years of opportunity in the Kingdom. Hopefully, the great bulk of mankind will inherit everlasting life, but many will prove to be incorrigible and not make the grade because they actually prefer the evil.

To repeat: verse 20 is written from the perspective of those who fail to get life in the Kingdom.

The child, or “infant of days,” who does not make the grade will die at age 100, being “accursed,” as it were. And the old man, or “sinner,” who fills out his days in the Kingdom but does not make the grade will also die as the “accursed.” In other words, there will be no excuse in the Kingdom, for all will know the Lord, from the least of the people unto the greatest of them (Jer. 31:34). There will be no need to tell one another, for the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth, as the waters cover the seabed (Isa. 11:9).

Normally, verse 20 is said to mean that when a person is 100 years old, he will be like a child with the healthy flesh of youth. Although the Book of Job teaches this thought in regard to the Kingdom, verse 20 does not. “His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth” (Job 33:25). The people of that day will have the complexion of a child: fairskinned, delicate, and pure. They will eventually be the very essence of health as they prosper under the righteous government of the Kingdom. But verse 20 is discussing the period of opportunity.

Moreover, verse 20 is speaking only in general terms, for it does not mean that everyone has to get a full 100 years in order to merit Second Death. Generally speaking, everyone will be afforded this opportunity to make progress, but other Scriptures indicate that three types of sinners will be resuscitated in the Kingdom and then go into Second Death, as follows:

1. The totally incorrigible and stubborn who refuse to obey Christ will be cut off shortly after coming out of the grave. They will refuse to hear the voice of “that prophet” or to make any progress (Acts 3:23). First, however, they will at least hear and have the opportunity of salvation, for all must come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).

2. Those who do listen but who make little progress in their 100 years of opportunity will be cut off at that point. Their lack of progress and growth will be the evidence that they are not worthy of continued life.

3. Those who obey only out of prudence will be cut off at the end of the Millennium when the Little Season reveals their wrong heart condition. Although they obey outwardly, they will, in their hearts, want to return to former crooked ways and take advantage of others. “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a  pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” (Amos 8:4-6). In the present age, this type of person is shrewd and gets money through malpractices. When the Kingdom is inaugurated and Christ is reigning and enforcing the iron-rod rule, this class will comply because it is prudent to do so, but they will long to return to their former way of life.

People today who charge exorbitant fees (doctors, lawyers, etc.) are really refined, educated robbers, even though they smile outwardly and appear to be nice. They live a life of pleasure, comfort, and ease and are highly respected, but in the Kingdom, they will have to tow the line. Many such individuals will want the New Covenant (the “new moon”) and Christ’s reign to end and God to give over the earth to mankind as He formerly did to Adam. They will know that Christ must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet, and that when he has accomplished this, he will turn the Kingdom over to the Father so that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). They will know that the Kingdom is a time for the rehabilitation, development, and testing of the human race and that ultimately the strict supervision will be removed and mankind will live forever. However, they will want the New Covenant to expire, the Mediator to withdraw, the Millennium and the Seventh Creative Day to end, and the ages of ages to begin so that they can sell “the needy for a pair of shoes.” Having little or no regard for people and looking upon them as mere commodities, this class will want to be kings like Adam and continue to prey on their fellow human beings. They will make the shekel (the price) great but the ephah (the quantity or measurement) small. They will want everlasting life so that they can again work their shrewdness and make excessive profits. It will be difficult for this class to reform their ways and to actually get everlasting life. Although those of this class who do not reform will be deceived in the final searching test of the Little Season and go into Second Death, they will live more than the hundred years.

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

Life in the Kingdom will be more rural. The people will build their own houses and plant their own vineyards. In other words, they will have to work for their temporal needs, but life will be radically different from today in that what each person can grow from the earth will be his to keep. Oppressive taxation will be a thing of the past. Today we live an artificial type of life.

Instead of walking, we ride; skyscrapers block the sun; etc. Relatively few observe nature.

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

In the present age, one builds and another often inhabits. Reasons why people lose their homes include poverty, foreclosure, fire, war, sickness, and death. In the Kingdom, people will be able to retain what they create and do. Whatever efforts are put forth to satisfy temporal needs will endure. When a person is not capable of a particular task, others will be happy to help. Happiness, ease, and comfort will abound.

“For as the days of a tree are the days of my people.” What is the analogy here? Some trees, such as the redwoods of California, live for thousands of years without decaying. The cedars of Lebanon were comparable to the redwoods. Imagine counting the annual rings on such trees and actually being able to point to a ring that grew during the time of Nero or other notable events of history! The analogy is that just as these trees theoretically live forever, so will the obedient world of mankind in the Kingdom and beyond. Olive trees are another example. If not damaged by fire or some other force, they can easily live for more than a thousand years.

Q: Would the root system of a tree be part of the analogy? The longer a tree lives, the deeper the roots grow and the more water and sustenance they take in. The bigger and taller the tree, the more beautiful it is and the more shade it provides. Moreover, a tree is self-sufficient.

A: Yes, the text would support those thoughts. For instance, trees are intentionally planted to draw water. The thicker the vegetation, the more abundant the rainfall. It would seem that more trees would drink up more water, but in fact, it is the opposite, for trees attract rain and water. Trees that are in a proper locale tend to be self-sufficient.

“Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” Trees are associated with everlasting life.

The days of a tree are like the days of God’s “elect,” who will ultimately make good and live forever here on the earth. The saved world of mankind will be the “Israel of God” in the fullest sense of the word. Kingdom blessings will start with natural Israel under the New Covenant, but as the Gentiles subsequently come in under that covenant, they will receive the same benefits and rewards.

Isa. 65:23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

“They are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.” Contrary to what many believe, this verse proves there will be marriage and some child-bearing in the Kingdom. The age beyond the Millennium is when these activities will cease.

The people (and their children, their “offspring”) who get life in the Kingdom will be “the [earthly] seed [of Abraham] of the blessed of the LORD [Jehovah].” Their number will be as the “sand of the sea[shore]” (Gen. 22:17; 32:12). Becoming part of the earthly seed of the blessed  of God will follow the principle “to the Jew first,” then to the Gentile.

Q: Would Jehovah’s “blessed” be The Christ? Jesus, the second Adam, will be the age-lasting Father and the Church, the second Eve, will be the mother of all who come forth from the grave, as well as of new children born during the Kingdom.

A: Yes, as “the blessed” of God, it will be Jesus and the Church who will regenerate the human race. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus spoke of the “regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, [and the Church] … also.” The Christ will be both father and mother to the world of mankind. Even the Ancient Worthies will be considered children of the blesser seed.

The promise to Abraham teaches restitution, and it is usually quoted from that standpoint (Gen. 12:2,3; 18:8; 22:15-18). However, the Apostle Paul applies the promise differently to show there is a higher blessing than receiving. The higher blessing is to be the blesser. Paul’s use of the term “children of promise [and faith]” in Galatians 4:28 shows that the blessed of the Abrahamic promise are the channel through which the blessings will go to others. In the highest sense of the word, Jesus and the Church will be that channel of blessing to others.

Stated another way, the blesser (those dispensing the blessings, the channel of blessing—the Church) will be more honored than the blessed (those receiving the blessings—the world).

From a natural standpoint, the progeny of Abraham will be blessed. Take Adam for an illustration. The entire human race comes from Adam. We might think the Abrahamic promise means that not only will Adam be blessed but all of his seed. But the trouble is that the seed will come forth before Adam does. Most of the early Church were Jews. At Pentecost alone, 8,000 Jews became Christians. Those Jews who made their calling and election sure will be the progenitors in the Kingdom. Hence the blessers will precede the blessed. The order is reversed.

This chapter of Isaiah has a natural setting primarily and a spiritual application secondarily. The “seed” of verse 23 and God’s “elect” of verse 22 are the same; they will be the children of The Christ. When the earthly application is considered, the “blessed” are the natural seed of Israel and those of the world of mankind who come underneath the New Covenant—and their progeny, if any. When the spiritual application is considered, the Church will be the blesser, and the seed would be those who are blessed of the blesser.

“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:8,9). As stated previously, Paul’s reasoning is quite different from the normal explanation. Notice that God justifies the heathen through faith, but when—in this age or the next age? The Gospel Age, the present age, is the age of faith. In the Kingdom, the world of mankind will be justified by works (Rev. 20:12). Therefore, Paul applied this Scripture about Abraham to the present age. When the promise is read, “In thee shall all nations be blessed,” we generally think of how the world of mankind will benefit, and although that lesson is part of the Genesis text, Paul’s reasoning was otherwise. He emphasized that the gospel preached to Abraham will be accomplished “in thee,” that is, in the blesser, in the channel, in the Church. The promise to Abraham was not only that the  nations would be blessed but that there would be a channel of blessing, which is the higher blessing.

The same word translated “blessed” is used variously in Scripture; sometimes it means “channel” and sometimes “recipient.” The context determines the meaning. The Apostle Paul reasoned that the “thee” of the phrase “in thee” refers to the channel. The promise was made to Abraham that “in thee [in the channel, in the Church] shall all nations be blessed.” The real good news is to be with Christ, to attain the spiritual hope of the high calling, for restitution does not even begin to compare with the spiritual hope. The “kingdom” means the Little Flock, the royal nation of kings and priests, not restitution. Restitution is part of the good news, but it is not the primary emphasis. Stated another way, the “gospel” is not restitution.

We should not feed on earthly restitution. Our desire should be to see Jesus, and not our father, mother, brother, etc. We should be living and dying for him. Hence it is essential for our hopes to be trained on the spiritual aspect, and we need to have clarity of purpose and vision in that regard. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul admonished us to run so that we might obtain the prize.

Hope for the high calling and love for God and Jesus have to be cultivated through the Word, for they are foreign to our nature. We are more responsive to other sensations. We are told that “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). In the New Testament, those Scriptures that pertain to the high calling of the Church far outnumber Scriptures about restitution. The New Testament is mostly instruction for the Church, not for the world.

Isa. 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Christians often quote this verse in connection with prayer life: “Before they call, I [God] will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I [God] will hear.” Sometimes the answer to prayer comes not only the very next day but while we are still on our knees. And there are times when the answer is delayed, as with the importunate widow (Luke 18:2-5). In fact, the answer can be delayed for weeks, even years. Sometimes the answer is no. The principle underlying the answer to prayer is that God knows best how and when to respond.

Although these are valuable lessons for the Christian, when verse 24 is considered in context, it shows that there will be prayer in the Kingdom Age. Jesus said, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matt. 21:13). Truly the Third Temple will be a “house of prayer for all people” (Isa. 56:7). While the Kingdom will be an age of sight and works, as opposed to the age of faith now, prayer will always be in order.

John 4:19-24 about the woman of Samaria also refers to prayer in the Kingdom. She said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” In the Old Testament, Jews were supposed to pray in the direction of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. While the Temple was still standing, Jews who wanted to make a special petition to the Lord went to Jerusalem, offered a sacrifice, and prayed in the Temple. This method is what God instructed the Jew to follow, but now, in the present age, Christians do not have to obey the outward form of praying toward Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The important requirement is to worship God in spirit and in truth. But what was Jesus telling the woman about the Kingdom?

Comment: The Samaritans felt that a certain mountain should be the center of their worship, but Jesus was saying that the time would come when neither the city of Jerusalem nor the mountain would be essential to prayer. He said, “The hour cometh, and now is,” meaning in the future, in the Kingdom Age, and also now, during the Gospel Age.

Reply: As Christians in the Gospel Age, we see that God wants us to worship Him with the right heart condition. We should want to know and please Him. In the Kingdom and especially beyond in the ages of ages, the Temple in Jerusalem will retain its symbolic value, but in prayer, no particular direction will predominate. Prayer will be important in the Kingdom.

Q: Will there also be testimony meetings in the Kingdom? They would be very helpful in the towns and hamlets.

A: Yes, in the style of a town meeting. There will also be films that replay history as it actually occurred.

Isa. 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

Notice the relationship of the paired animals. Although the wolf and the lamb are enemies currently, and so are the lion and the bullock, that will not be true in the future. In the Kingdom, these traditional enemies will be compatible and “feed together.” In other words, there will be peace among the animals as well as among humans.

“Dust shall be the serpent’s meat.” This portion of verse 25 tells us that there will be snakes in the Kingdom. One reason is that they will be a constant symbolic reminder of lessons learned about Satan. In fact, all of the animals and insects have an educational value. At present, many snakes eat rodents and live prey, but in the Kingdom, they will be so adapted as to obtain their nutrition from the earth itself, from dust and dirt, like the earthworm.

Verse 25 is informing us that a radical change will take place. Not only will the animals live together peaceably, but their diet will change to vegetarian. This verse, plus Isaiah 11:8, indicates that snakes and vipers will lose their venom. “The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.”

Verse 25 also shows there will be an animal kingdom throughout eternity for man’s pleasure. The animals will not receive a resurrection, but whether or not they will live indefinitely beyond the Kingdom we do not know.

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” Since there will be death during the Kingdom, how do we harmonize this statement? What this means is that the animals will not hurt or destroy in the Kingdom, but God will have the prerogative of putting incorrigible individuals to death; i.e., they will go into a permanent sleep called Second Death.

Originally, when Adam called the animals to him in the Garden of Eden and named them, there was peace between all of the animals and man. But following Adam’s sin and his expulsion from the garden, the animals became fearful and distrustful of mankind except for the domesticated ones.

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