Isaiah 65-66 forms the LORD’s response to the Prophet Isaiah’s prayer contained in Isaiah 63-64. The LORD not only repeated the warnings of judgment but also the blessings of salvation. This oracle of judgment and blessing was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. Today, we examine God’s present and future work among Israel (65:2–16, 18–19; 66:1–5, 7–14, 18–21)
Regarding the LORD’s present work within Israel, there are those who remain rebellious ((65:2–7, 11–15; 66:3–4). Their perversions include idolatry (65:2–3), witchcraft (65:4), and hypocrisy (65:5; 66:3). They are a stench in God’s nostrils because they choose their own ways.
The LORD will punish them for their sins (65:6–7). They pay for their sins and for the sins of their ancestors. They will be cut down by the sword (65:11–12): They are destroyed because they did not listen to the Lord. They will suffer from hunger and thirst (65:13), they will cry out in sorrow (65:14), they will become a curse among the people (65:15), and they are ultimately responsible for all these things because they did not listen to the LORD (66:4).
However, the LORD reminds us that He always has a remnant. These are His righteous ones. Throughout the ages they will be preserved and made prosperous in the land (65:8–10), they will be esteemed by God for their humility (66:1–2), and they will hear God’s reassuring voice (66:5).
With respect to the LORD’s future work within Israel, the nation will be reborn in a single day (66:7-9). Additionally, the people will be totally forgiven (65:16). God will put aside his anger and forgive their evil, and Jerusalem will be rebuilt and filled with rejoicing (65:18–19). There will be no more crying in the city. Also, the city will enjoy financial prosperity (66:10–12). The wealth of nations will flow to the city, and it will be blessed with peace. The people will be comforted by God himself (66:13). He will comfort them as a mother comforts her child. Finally, the people will rejoice (66:14) when they see their city and they will be filled with joy. The people will also see God’s glory (66:18–21). They will come from every nation to his holy mountain.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “As the climax to the book, this chapter (66) fittingly describes the millennium, the time toward which history has been looking, which was promised to Abraham. Israel will be as enduring as the new heavens and the new earth. All mankind (i.e., people from all nations) will worship the Lord, bowing down before Him. As Isaiah had frequently written, these righteous ones will contrast greatly with those who rebelled against the Lord. They will suffer eternal torment (cf. Mark 9:48). This awesome way in which the majestic Book of Isaiah concludes points to the need for unrepentant people to turn to the Lord, the only God, the Holy One of Israel.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “Isaiah conveys the glorious blessing of the new heavens and earth in today’s passage when he says “some of them also I will take for priests” (Isa. 66:21). He is referring to the Gentiles, and this would have been incredible for the original audience to hear. Most Jews could not be priests, but the fact that God would make some Gentiles priests points to the equality of Jew and Gentile under the new covenant. In Christ, we are all priests to the Most High God.
Soli deo Gloria!