God Answers

Isaiah 65:1-16

Isaiah prayed passionately, fervently for his people the Jews. Not unlike pastor praying passionately, fervently for America – you’ve sent hurricanes, floods, wildfires, blizzards, economic hardship; we’re sinners and we’ve sinned but we’re turning back to you, we need your help. Haven’t we suffered enough?

The answer not especially welcome, not what “every-Jew” expected – was basically “no”; in fact, for many there is no hope. Was true for Jews as for all mankind, God will not save everyone – he declared that purpose to Isaiah. Also true that God would not completely abandon or destroy them all either. When it’s question of destiny, God deals in specifics, at individual level. Put very simply: ticket to heaven not refundable, transferable, shareable. Parents can’t share with children/grandchildren; members of church family can’t share with/transfer to others; citizens in a nation can’t get in under an umbrella policy that covers everyone.

It’s a question of identity: are you called by name God has given, or by name of own choosing? That was question for Jews in Isaiah’s day as God prepared to give them dose of own medicine.

A. Israel not entirely saved v.1-7

Gentiles vs. Jews (1-2)

Gentile miracle (1)

God promised through Moses:

Deut. 32:21They have made me jealous with false gods, enraging me with their worthless gods; so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, with a nation slow to learn I will enrage them.” NET

would reveal himself, his truth to Gentiles, people not even looking for him

see Rom. 10:19-21

happened with proclamation of Gospel to Gentiles after Pentecost

something Jews should have expected

God’s patience (2)

“not fair” you say?

God pursued – by written word, by prophets, by provision

patiently for generations, centuries

hard circumstances, “give us one more chance”

God does, they go back to old ways

didn’t really want God, wanted pain relief

nature of Jews’ rebellion (3-5a)

once again, out of habit, wilfully and with informed consent

try to satisfy God-itch with own solutions

just like own culture – more religious/spiritual-sounding than any other time in history

hear it constantly in language, even has own priesthood (those w/claim to knowledge & authority)

who are authorities?? – science, psychiatrists, financial wizards, the state

in case of Jews – gods of own definition

safe alternative to Yahweh

standard that can be achieved by self-effort

God’s evaluation (5b)

smoke in his nose

not pleasant – nice wood fire

more like smoke from incessantly burning garbage dump

in a word: OFFENSIVE, kind of stench makes you want to vomit

and response (6-7)

God is committed to action

his time, his way, in perfect justice

those who have wilfully turned away, done their own thing

will pay in full for sinful actions

“not fair” you say?

Father required Lord Jesus to pay in full for his people

can he expect any less of those who reject Christ?

B. Israel not entirely cast off v.8-12

the remnant (8)

God surveys – in midst of pervasive rebellion and idolatry, a faithful few

will not destroy nation, as he had others, for sake of remnant

vineyard basically unproductive, but…. here and there clusters of good fruit

vine allowed to grow (for a time) for sake of good clusters

result of God’s moving (9)

no thanks to individual genius that remnant exists

God who stirs up his people

brings to life

causes to seek him, worship him, the one true God

establishes as residents in his holy place

another contrast: remnant vs. rebellious (10-11)

promised peace and rest for remnant (10)

former desert will become rich pasture

safety, rest, nourishment

former place of trouble given new purpose

doorway to hope (Hos. 2:15)

hope for future and destiny

earthly Canaan a faint shadow of heavenly Canaan

downpayment on future fullness – realization and experience of spiritual blessings reserved for time after Jesus’ return

promised frustration for rebellious (11)

stage a party, guests of honor don’t show

“who prepare a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny” HCSB

instead of inviting living God who can see, hear, speak, move – call on impotent idols

surprised no one answers? shouldn’t be

clean living and perserverance good things, empty gods when they become the standard

God justifies his treatment of rebels (12)

God destines rebels for destruction

“not fair” you say? “my god isn’t like that” you say? then your god isn’t God of the Bible

these are the charges:

God called, they refused to answer

God spoke, they refused to listen

willingly did what they knew to be evil

willingly chose what they knew displeased God

C. to each his own v.13-16

to rebellious: what they have earned; to his servants: what “the Servant” earned for them

contrast could not be more profound

those seeking God will be satisfied – those seeking satisfaction will be frustrated

cursing for the rebellious

hungry and thirsty – shame – sorrow and grief of heart – name a curse word – destruction

may have everything world considers important, yet have soul that is shriveled and dying

may be trying to kill pain with alcohol, drugs, work, relationships, possessions, suicide

none of that will nourish their soul, fill the God-shaped void they have

blessing for true servants

nourished and satisfied – joy and gladness of heart – a new name – true worship

may have nothing world considers important, yet have soul that is content and vibrant, alive to God and his ways

In Revelation God’s people are promised food, drink, and table fellowship (Rev 2:7, 17; 3: 20; 21:6; 22:2, 17). As there, so also here, those still in their sins will be excluded from the joy of it all; and their name will be a byword among God’s people for the curse of God. Expositor’s Commentary


Your life empty? Are you hungry and thirsty for love and to be loved? Are you frustrated and without joy, perhaps without real purpose or direction?


Seek after God. Listen to him when he calls you. Respond to him when he speaks. Take hold of his outstretched hand and don’t let go. Delight in him and you will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams.

Are you one of the believing faithful remnant? Safe and secure in your Heavenly Father’s tender keeping? Consider blessings you experience right now – fellowship with God and his people, joy and contentment unknown to so many, your name written on palm of God’s hand (Isa. 49:16), taste of what true worship is really like. All that is real but only tiny helpings – full course meal with unlimited servings comes in heaven. Thank him for his blessings, ask for more…..of Him – greater sense of his presence, fuller experience of his fellowship, more of his glory to show through you. God has done and given much already – don’t be satisfied with yesterday’s helping; continue to delight in him, draw close to him that you may experience more of him and his goodness.


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