Lesson for June 23, 2013: Worship in the New Creation (Isaiah 65)

By Sam E. Stone

In this final lesson from Isaiah, we study part of his prophetic message that parallels John’s vision recorded in the book of Revelation. Bible scholars point out how the book of Isaiah mirrors the entire 66 books of the Bible. Isaiah 1–39 is reminiscent of the 39 books found in the Old Testament, while the remaining 27 chapters call to mind the 27 books of the New Testament.

Isaiah 40–66 contains many significant prophecies about Jesus Christ. That section begins with these encouraging words: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her . . . sin has been paid for” (40:1, 2).

Henry Halley suggests that Isaiah’s final two chapters (65, 66) are God’s answer to the exiles’ prayer of the previous two chapters. The faithful remnant shall be restored (65:8-10). The disobedient shall be utterly destroyed (65:2-7, 11, 12). New nations shall be brought into the fold (65:1; 66:8). All shall be called by a new name (65:15). They shall all inherit new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:22).

God’s Promise
Isaiah 65:17
See, I will create new heavens and a new earth,” declares the Lord. The word create is used three times in the opening verses of our text (vv. 17, 18) to emphasize this concept. Isaiah had promised “new things” (42:9; 48:6). Now the old order of things is shown to be past (compare Revelation 21:4). The Lord’s people are assured that their time of captivity and punishment is over; the promised “better days” are here. Early on, Isaiah had emphasized God’s judgment on sin and unbelief. Now (like John in Revelation 21:1), he shows how God’s mercy provides hope for all of his children.

“This spiritual era would be as much ‘created’ by God as was the material universe,” says James E. Smith. According to the New Testament, the new creation began with the work of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). The completion of that new creation will follow the final judgment (2 Peter 3:3-13; Revelation 20:11-15).

God’s Provision
Isaiah 65:18-25
In light of all that God has promised to do, his people can be glad and rejoice forever. The city of Jerusalem, long the most sacred spot on earth for both Jews and Christians, will be a delight and its people a joy. This city had been warned of double punishment for all its sins (Isaiah 40:2). But now “the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” Similar reassurance is given in John’s vision of the holy city (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). James Muilenburg explains, “The contrast is to the sorrow of the former age, the subject of the preceding poem (cf. [Isaiah] 64:10). . . . Messianic Jerusalem is the city of joy and gladness.”

What was normal in the past will be so no longer. Age limitations are a part of life now—but not in God’s tomorrow. Gone will be all premature death. Death will no longer have power over people. Earlier the prophet promised that the Lord “will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). To Israel, the promised land was seen as a place where people could live peacefully and enjoy productive crops. In Heaven that will be a reality (Deuteronomy 8:7-14). The disobedient will not be there.

James Burton Coffman suggests, “The wonderful blessings pertaining to God’s people which are listed in [these Deuteronomy 8 verses] refer to spiritual privileges, despite their being expressed here in terms of material prosperity. Quite obviously in the passage, the natural laws of birth and death, and other conditions of our earth-life still prevail during the age of Messiah, in which we most assuredly live.”

One of the great promises of Scripture is found in Isaiah 65:24: “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Few texts provide so much encouragement for the doubting, the disturbed, or the despondent. God is so close to his people that he anticipates their every need before they ask. In Heaven we will see him face-to-face. James A. Addison calls this a “strong expression of God’s readiness to hear and answer prayer, not a mere promise that it shall be heard, but an assurance that it shall be granted before it is heard.” Even though we are unable to grasp all that is promised, we can confidently trust God’s perfect plan for his people throughout eternity.

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*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS
June 17: Psalm 19:1-6
June 18: Psalm 19:7-14
June 19: Romans 3:9-20
June 20: Romans 5:6-14
June 21: Isaiah 42:1-9
June 22: Revelation 21:1-7
June 23: Isaiah 65:17-25

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