A Rebellious Nation Is. 65:1-16 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Is 65:1-16 the Lord describes Israel as a rebellious nation because they wouldn’t listen to him, they wouldn’t respond to his calls and they disobeyed his commands. As a result, many of them die by the sword and only the remnant of what he calls “mine elect” inherit the land that was promised to them. Notice the characteristics of this rebellious nation:
Gentiles respond to the Lord better than they do – Is 65:1 – Paul quotes the first part of this verse in Rom 10:20 referring to how the gospel opened to the Gentiles [Rom 9:30]. The Lord turned to the Gentiles, “a nation that was not called by my name,” when Israel would not hearken to him [Acts 28:25-28].
They follow their own thoughts – Is 65:2 – Paul quotes this verse in Rom 10:21 – the Lord made every attempt to get Israel to obey him – but they were rebellious – they walked after their own ways [which were not good] and after their own thoughts [Is 55:8-9] – Paul said they were a gainsaying people – that is they opposed and walked contrary to God.
They provoke God to anger – Is 65:3 – Israel provoked God to anger to his face – in other words, they flaunted their disobedience and they didn’t let up when they knew he was mad [Is 1:2-6].
They are thoroughly disobedient – Is 65:3-4 – their disobedience was demonstrated in their:
- Sacrifices – they sacrificed in gardens contrary to Deut 12:26-28.
- Incense – they burned incense on brick altars contrary to Ex 30:1-7, see 2 Chr 30:14
- Abominations – they consulted with familiar spirits, practiced necromancy and worshipped idols contrary to Deut 18:9-12
- Unclean meats – they ate swine’s flesh and abominable broth contrary to Lev 11 [see v.7]
They justify themselves – Is 65:5 – they were “holier than thou” – in other words, they looked down on others who they thought were not as righteous as they were like the Pharisees did [Matt 9:11; Lk 18:11] – they justified themselves [Lk 16:15] – God found this attitude as repulsive as smoke in his nose burning continuously.
They are idolatrous and blasphemous – Is 65:6-7 – the Lord wrote that he would recompense their iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers [i.e., like Manasseh, 2 Ki 24:3] because of their idolatry [incense upon the mountains] and blasphemy [upon the hills, Ezek 20:27-28].
Only a few of them seek the Lord – Is 65:8-10 – (these will be rewarded) in spite of the rebellion of most of Israel, there is a remnant that “sought” the Lord [contrast v.1] and so the Lord will not destroy them all – the Lord will bring forth a seed out of Jacob [his elect] to inherit the land promised to Israel [what the Lord calls, “my mountains”] – Sharon will be a fold of flocks (a place where sheep are protected like a sheepfold) [contrast 1 Chr 27:29 with Is 33:9] and the valley of Achor will be for herds to lie down (a safe resting place for cattle) [contrast Jos 7:24-26]. Note: new wine is not fermented; it is in the cluster [Gen 40:11].
They forsake the Lord and turn to his enemies – Is 65:11 – remarkably, despite the promise in v.8-10, Israel forsakes the Lord, forgets his holy mountain and prepares a table and a drink offering for “that troop” and “that number” [those with whom they committed adulteries, Ezek 23:40-44].
They get numbered to the sword – Is 65:12 – the Lord called and spoke to them but they would not hear and they would not answer – they made the wrong choice so he numbered them to the sword [Ezek 23:45-49].
And they cry and howl (while the remnant rejoices) – Is 65:13-14 – as a result, the Lord’s servants will eat, drink, rejoice and sing [Jer 31:1-14] while the rebels will hunger, thirst, be ashamed, cry and howl [Lev 26:14-25].
Their name will be a curse – Is 65:15 – the Lord’s servants will be called by a new name [like Rev 2:17] and the rebels will be a curse [like Jer 24:8-10; see Prov 10:7, “the name of the wicked shall rot”].
God will erase the memory of their deeds – Is 65:16 – at that time men will bless themselves and swear by the God of truth [Deut 6:13-15] – and the former troubles will be forgotten and hidden from the Lord’s eyes [Jer 31:34, as part of the new covenant].