The Exaltation of God’s Kingdom Isaiah 40-66, cont’d.
Isaiah 58-66 God Secures Those in His Kingdom, cont’d.
Isaiah 65:1-7-God says that He “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” (:1). God initiated a relationship with people who did not even know that He existed, or were aware that they needed Him, and were even rebellious towards Him when they found out. God condemns the people for refusing to turn to Him when He calls (:2-3); and, for participating in false worship (:4-7).
- Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon titled Self Righteousness - A Smoldering Heap of Rubbish on this text. In it, he describes how dangerous and insidious self righteousness is. "Moreover, self-righteous men, like foxes, have many tricks and schemes. They condemn in other people what they consider to be very excusable in themselves. They would cry out against others for a tenth part of the sin which they allow in themselves: certain constitutional tendencies, and necessities of circumstances, and various surroundings, all serve as ample apologies. Besides this, if it be admitted that they are wrong upon some points, yet in other directions they are beyond rebuke. If they drink, they do not swear; and if they swear, they do not steal: they make a great deal out of negatives: if they steal, they are not greedy and miserly, but spend their gains freely. If they practice fornication, yet they do not commit adultery; if they talk filthily, yet they boast they do not lie. They would be counted well because they are not universally bad. They do not break every hedge, and therefore they plead that they are not trespassers. As if a debtor for a hundred pounds should claim to be excused because he does not owe two hundred: or, as if a highwayman should say, 'I did not stop all the travelers on the road; I only robbed one or two, and therefore I ought not to be punished.' If a man should willfully break the windows of your shop, I warrant you, you would not take it as an excuse if he pleaded, 'I did not break them all; I only smashed one sheet of plate glass.' Pleas which would not be mentioned in a human court are thought good enough to offer to God. O the folly of our race!" (Spurgeon)
iii. Spurgeon also focused his attention of the most religious of the self-righteous: "Those who come with the language of repentance but without the spirit of it, are sometimes the most self-righteous of all, for they say 'I am all right because I am not self-righteous.' They make a self-righteousness out of the supposed absence of self-righteousness. 'Thank God,' say they, 'we are not as other men are, nor even as these self-righteous people.' Hypocrites all the way through."
- Man is so corrupt that he can be self-righteous over almost anything. "This weed of self-righteousness will grow on any dunghill. No heap of rubbish is too rotten for the accursed toadstool of proud self to grow upon." (Spurgeon)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 65,
Isaiah 65:8-10-God says that just like there may be a few good grapes in a whole cluster, there are a few faithful people in all of Israel...and He will bless them.
Isaiah 65:11-16-However, those who refuse to respond to His call will be judged.
Isaiah 65:17-25-This is a description of the Millennial Kingdom. It is interesting to note that though they will live longer, people will die (:20); and, sin will be punished (:21-23).
- It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear: The millennial reign of Jesus Christ will not only be a time of biological and social transformation. It will also be a time of profound spiritual transformation and intimacy. There will be an immediate and constant sense of the presence of God, and His knowledge will cover the earth (Isaiah 11:9).
- This does not mean that every on the millennial earth will be saved; only that the opportunity for such close relationship will be widely enjoyed. We know that not all will be saved during the millennial earth because:
- At the conclusion of the time of the millennial earth, Satan is released from his confinement and finds many willing servants on the earth (Revelation 20:7-9), whom he gathers for one last - and strikingly futile - rebellion against God.
- Zechariah 14:16-19 and Psalm 2 describe the firm rule of the Messiah during the millennial earth, dealing decisively with those who do not surrender to His reign, enforcing righteousness all over the earth.
- Though not all will be saved on the millennial earth, we may suppose that the proportions will be reversed. Today, it is but a remnant that are saved, because many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14) and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14). In the millennial earth, the few will be those who don't know the LORD and are not saved.
iii. One of the reasons why most are saved and know the LORD on the millennial earth is because not all survivors of the Great Tribulation are allowed to populate the millennial earth. After the Great Tribulation - which in judgment reduces the population of the earth by at least a third (Revelation 9:15, 18) - Jesus Christ will return to the earth, and in the judgment of the nations, determine who will be allowed to populate the millennial earth (Matthew 25:32-34). The millennial earth will have a "screened" population, that in terms of righteousness, will not be perfect, but better than the present earth.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 65,
Such will be the presence of God in the Millennial Kingdom that before a person prays…God will have already answered (:24). In the Millennial Kingdom there will be a basic change of nature among all living things: "The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox..." (:25).
Isaiah 66:1-2-God asks that since He made everything, what could we build on earth that would be a suitable place of worship for Him? But, He says that a man's heart that is right with Him is an acceptable place.
Isaiah 66:3-6-Man tries to dictate to God how he will worship Him...but God will not accept it. So in response, God says that He will punish those that do so in the way that He dictates.
Isaiah 66:7-9-God says that in the end, despite all that has happened, those that are of Israel will be reborn and saved.
Isaiah 66:10-24-While there will be great rejoicing in Jerusalem by those whom God has saved, there will also be anguish among those who reject Him. God will send His people around the world in missionary endeavors (:19)...but not all will respond in faith. However, whether they accept Him, or not, all mankind will ultimately recognize Him as God and bow before Him (:23). Those who do not accept Him will face eternal judgment (:24).
Prayer: Lord, had You not initiated salvation…we would have no hope. You, and only You, can accomplish our salvation. Thank You that You chose to save us. Now, I pray, let me live for You in such a way that You will be glorified and others will be brought to You