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Bible: What Does Isaiah 64-66 Teach Us About Rebellion, the Elect, and the New Creation?
Good Works: Are They Good in God's Eyes?
Do you believe that your righteous deeds are like filthy rages in God's estimation?
Isaiah 64-66: Israel's Sinful Rebellion/Yahweh's Elect and the "New Creation"/Summary Questions
In an agonizing prayer, the man of God longs for Yahweh to come with so great a display of omnipotence that the nations would "tremble at His presence" (vv. 1-2).
He recalls one such appearance at Sinai (v. 3; Ex. 19:18), and proclaims that humanity knows no other god who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him (v. 4).
However, one must not only wait for Him; one must also rejoice, do righteousness, and remember God in His ways (v. 5a).
The prophet recognizes that Israel does not meet these criteria, for the people "have sinned" and "need to be saved" (v. 5b).
He confesses their corporate uncleanness (spiritual leprosy)—the worthlessness of even their "good" deeds—their deadness and powerlessness, and their apathy toward prayer.
When God hides His face and "consumes" His people, these spiritual conditions become readily apparent (vv. 6-7).
Isaiah calls upon God as Israel's Father, as the One who made them and controls their destiny (v. 8), imploring Him to show mercy to His people (v. 9).
To bolster his argument, the prophet summarizes the wretched conditions found in Israel, especially Jerusalem, and then queries God, "Are You not yet finished punishing us and Your city for our sins?" (vv. 10-12)
Yahweh's response hearkens back to when Israel was a people who, though once disinterested in God, sought and found Him only because He was very eager to reveal Himself to them (v. 1; cf. Rom. 10:20).
Now the nation is in rebellion. The LORD first catalogues and then condemns their numerous transgressions, among which are
(1) self-directed lifestyle (v. 2),
(2) improper worship (v. 3),
(3) sinful, unclean practices (v. 4), and
(4) obnoxious self-righteousness (v. 5).
Then He promises to repay them with judgment for these iniquities (vv. 6-7).
Yet He also chooses to save some of the people and not destroy the whole nation/cluster (vv. 8-9); instead, these elect Israelites will inherit blessing (v. 10).
However, those in Egypt who follow pagan gods (v. 11) God will judge with a bloody death (v. 12; see McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, 138).
The LORD contrasts His treatment of His servants and these pagans (vv. 13-14). He will subsequently slay the unbelievers, but His servants will praise Him (vv. 15-16).
The New Creation
As if turning a page, Yahweh next discusses His new creation (v. 17).
It will be:
(1) a place of joy (vv. 18-19),
(2) long life (v. 20),
(3) peace and prosperity (vv. 21-23),
(4) "speedy" answers to prayer (v. 24), and
(5) reconciliation between once mortal enemies in the animal world (v. 25).
The Right Kind of Worshiper
God desires and seeks worshipers who are "poor" and of a contrite spirit, and who tremble at His word; He is not concerned with what man can give Him or make for Him, since He already owns everything (vv. 1-2; cf. John 4:24).
At present, Israel's sacrifices are abominations to God, because their heart is not right before Him. Consequently, He will punish them justly (vv. 3-4).
Addressing directly His favorites in Zion, Yahweh reveals that He will repay His enemies (vv. 5-6).
Comparing Israel's future "rebirth" to a physical birth, the LORD promises to deliver Jerusalem (vv. 7-9).
He exhorts His own to rejoice in this work (vv. 10-11); God will truly comfort Jerusalem and its people (vv. 12-13).
Valley of Hinnom--Figurative of Hell
Heaven and Hell
Do you believe there is an eternal Hell to shun and an everlasting Heaven to gain?
Heaven and Hell
Isaiah's final words contain a two-pronged message: words of joy for the LORD's servants and words of destruction for His enemies (vv. 14-17).
Then God announces His intentions of gathering everyone to see His glory (v. 18).
Those who escape judgment will travel to distant lands to tell foreigners to come to Jerusalem (vv. 19-21).
Israel will survive as a nation forever, and worship of the LORD will continue ad infinitum (vv. 22-23).
Yahweh will also provide saved mankind with an unforgettable object lesson of what it has escaped: the horrible judgment and hell of transgressors (v. 24; cf. Mark 9:44, 46, 48).
SUMMARY QUESTIONS OF ISAIAH 40-66
1. What may be Isaiah's purposes in his description of Yahweh in chapter forty?
2. In chapter forty-one, what does Yahweh declare that idols are incapable of doing?
3. What chapters discuss the Servant of Yahweh?
4. Who/what is the Servant/servant of Yahweh?
5. What must God continually remind Israel not to do (Isaiah 43-44)?
6. Is it possible for a man to be greatly used by God, and yet not be one of His elect? If so, who is an example, and what was he going to do?
7. What two major entities does Isaiah contrast in chapter forty-six?
8. What does the Servant say to His people three times in Isaiah 51:1-7 (Verses 1, 4, 7)?
9. According to 51:17 and 52:1, what must God's people in Zion do?
10. What are some of the outstanding spiritual qualities of the Servant in Isaiah 53?
11. What are the purposes of the fast (Isaiah 58:6,7)?
12. What "commodity" does God freely offer in Isaiah 55:1-3?
13. What must Gentile nations do in order to survive in the Messianic kingdom?
14. How did Jesus interpret Isaiah 61:1, 2 (cf. Luke 4:16-21)?
15. How does Isaiah describe the appearance of the One coming from Edom (Is. 63:1)?
16. What do the last two chapters of Isaiah reveal about the Messianic kingdom?
© 2012 glynch1