“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found
by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was
not called by my name.”
In the motion picture industry, many times screenwriters will start a movie by showing the current event that prepares the viewer to go back in time to see how we arrived at the present circumstance. For this article, I will use this same approach. I will begin with the fulfillment of the promise and then trace the promise from its inception. Hopefully, this will make the message clearer.
Before discussing Isaiah 65, I will fast forward to the early church in Acts 10. The setting is Caesarea at the home of Cornelius. Here an angel of God instructs Cornelius, a Gentile and Roman Centurion, to send for Peter in Joppa. God prepares Peter for this encounter with a vision. This vision was really more of a preparation for Peter in accepting Gentiles. In the vision, a sheet descends with unclean animals for Peter to eat. Peter declines the offer because as a practicing Jew, he has not let anything unclean touch his mouth. The Lord rebukes Peter and says “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:15). The Lord now has Peter’s attention, and as instructed, he goes back with Cornelius’ servants to Caesarea. Peter now realizes what God was trying to show him by this vision.
“And he (Peter) said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew
to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that
I should not call any person common or unclean.”
God, through Peter, is now reaching out to the Gentiles to be added to his Kingdom as prophesied in Isaiah 65! As we see in Act 10:44-48, God accepts the Gentiles and fills them with the Holy Spirit! God is faithful to expand his kingdom and to call his elect, including those who were once alienated from the household of Israel.
In Isaiah 65, we see God reaching out to a people (Isaiah: 65:1-2). Seemingly, God is upset with Israel and her unfaithfulness to honor and worship him (Isaiah: 65:1-7). This includes rebellion, following their own devices, making sacrifices to objects and provoking God. We see this throughout the Old Testament concerning Israel as a nation (Exodus 32, 33, Nehemiah 9, Jeremiah 7, 17, Acts 7). It is hard reading these passages knowing how much God had loved and provided for this nation that he called his own. Whether in the wilderness or occupying the Promise Land, the children of Israel consistently turned away from the one and true living God. This rebellion against God goes far beyond Israel. We see early on in Genesis 6, that man had evil intentions in his heart.
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every
intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD
regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”
Man had a sin problem from the beginning, long before Israel was even mentioned. The problem is man’s DNA is of Adam and is infected by original sin.
When we come to verses 8-10 in Isaiah 65, we find “new wine” in the cluster. Though God is judging his people, he will preserve a remnant to Jacob and Judah! Even in Israel’s turning away, God is faithful to his promise. By preserving a remnant, God paves the way for the Redeemer who will secure salvation for his elect within Israel and beyond. Israel served as God’s vehicle to carry the promise of Messiah, the one who would fulfill God’s holy law, and write it on the heart’s of man.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes
and be careful to obey my rules.”
We all should be able to relate and sympathize with Israel. We all struggle with sin and need a Savior. As Christians, we should be thankful God preserved his promise through his people. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans in chapter 11 concerning Israel:
“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite,
a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected
his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah,
how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have
demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’
But what is God’s response? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have
not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time, there is a remnant, chosen
by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise, grace
would no longer be grace.”
I realized I covered a lot of ground here, but to sum it up simply. All people, whether Jew or Gentile, have broken God’s law. We are broken and cannot fix ourselves. So God provided a way. He fulfilled his promise by sending his only begotten son; the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Only faith in him can secure our salvation. After Billy Graham’s passing last month, I have been watching documentaries of his life. I so appreciated this evangelist and how he kept on message and proclaimed the gospel in a simple, powerful way. He will be dearly missed by our nation. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue, reaching both Jew and Gentile and establishing a people for God!
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken
down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of
commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself
one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us
both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those
who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”