Sunday, March 27, 2011

Isaiah 65 - New Heavens and New Earth

Contextual Notes:
Isaiah prophesies about one Royal, Priestly, Suffering, Divine Son of David. For 39 chapters He is the King coming to judge sin, then beginning at chapter 40, He is the coming Comforter, the Servant who will suffer, die, and rise again (53), fulfilling all His covenants (54-55), transforming our sinful present into a glorious future (56) through repentance (57), to make us like Himself (58).

Sin might destroy our relationships with Him and others (59:1-15a), but the Redeemer’s intercession (59:15b-21) provides hope, honor, and transformation (60) of a relationship with the righteously robed Redeemer Himself, who proclaims favor, prosperity, and joy over his people(61), then calls his bridal people (62:1-5) to watch and intercede for Messiah’s purposes, people, and proclamation.

Immediately the watchmen see a coming Robed Warrior, returning from battle, a Savior righteous and mighty, compassionate and kind (63:1-14), a zealous and mighty Redeemer (63:15-19). His grace (64:1-5a) overpowers sin (64:5b-7) in response to watchman intercession (64:8-12).

Here at chapters 65-66 we reach the grand climax of Isaiah’s prophecy – the Messiah’s response to the intercession of the watchmen – the wondrous promise that God will one day create a new earth and heavens as the home of the righteous.

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 65 to teach Israel that the Messiah is coming to judge sin and punish rebellion, but he will save a faithful remnant and create a new heaven and earth.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the Messiah’s End-time work.
Key Verse: Isaiah 65:17
Pray and Read:  Isaiah 65

Sermon Points:
1.   In the End, Messiah will judge sin (65:1-7)
2.   In the End, Messiah will save a faithful remnant (65:8-10)
3.   In the End, Messiah will punish rebellion (65:11-16)
4.   In the End, Messiah will create a new heaven and earth (65:11-25)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Now the Messiah responds to the intercession. He has not neglected them. He is not hidden. He has reached out to the nations who were not even seeking him (Isaiah 65:1) and his own people who have not bothered to respond but are busy pursuing their own imaginations (Isaiah 65:2; 1:23; Exodus 14:11; 16:2; 32:1ff).
b.   The people have deliberately chosen to walk in ways not good (Isaiah 65:3; 63:10; 3:9; Job 1:11), involved in secret societies that are more interested in the dead than the Risen One who has conquered death (Isaiah 65:4a; 1:29; 57:9; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:3; ), eating unclean food, not paying attention to the Scripture (Isaiah 65:4b; Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8). Yet in their hypocrisy, they consider themselves too holy to be approached (Isaiah 65:5a). They are a constant irritant, an annoying smoke to the Lord (Isaiah 65:5b; Jeremiah 17:4). Therefore, (literally, Behold! Hinneh) he has decided to punish them for their sin and that of their fathers (Isaiah 65:6-7; 57:7; Exodus 20:5; Matthew 12:41-42; 21:43; Deuteronomy 32:5, 6, 21; Hosea 4:13; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6ff; 17:2).
c.   Paul refers to Isaiah 65:1-2 in Romans 10:20-21. The Gentiles were not looking for God, but He was found by them in the Gospel. The Jews to whom God held out His hands in love refused to see him and turned instead to pagan deities. Yet in the end god’s grace will triumph, and both will have a place in the world to come (cf. Isaiah 65:9 and the doctrine of the remnant).
e.   APPLICATION: In the end, Messiah will judge sin – every act of infidelity, every secret murder, every bribe, every dictator, every genocide, every robbery, every lie, every sin. The only way to avoid being judged is to appeal to the Just Judge Himself for mercy. He has provided a way where there was no way, and He Himself is that Way, that Truth, that Life. Maybe you have not been looking for him, but he has been looking for you. Perhaps he has held out his hands to you all day long and you have been obstinate. Either way, he will receive you today if you want. Will you ask Him to forgive you of your sins and submit your life to him today? In a few minutes you can respond to the Judge’s invitation to pardon.

a.   God will preserve a faithful remnant (65:8-10). The Lord does not curse his servants (Isaiah 65:8; Exodus 20:6; Jeremiah 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:1-3).
b.   ILLUSTRATION: Isaiah illustrates with an example from the vineyard (Isaiah 5:8). The owner is about to throw out rotten grapes, but someone says that they are not completely moldy. There are good ones among the rotten (Matthew 13:28-30; 1 Kings 19; Romans 9).
c.   Isaiah 65:9 tells how the Lord will do it: He will cause to go forth from Jacob (a name with the connotation of the people in bondage) a Seed (Isaiah 6:13; 11:1), and from Judah (the southern kingdom; Micah 5:2), One will inherit the mountains and the chosen ones (Jews) will inherit them as heirs (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:26, 29; Ephesians 3:6; Titus 3:7). The final word, shammah (lit. to there, thither) implies forward motion. The heirs come to the Land (the return of the Jews to the Land with their Gentile co-heirs).
d.   Isaiah 65:10: The faithful will have descendants in a fruitful land, Sharon (a fruitful plain from Mount Carmel south to Jaffa (Isaiah 33:9; 35:2), even in the Valley of Achor (literally valley of trouble, Joshua 7:26; Hosea 2:15), there will be peace and rest (Isaiah 65:10).
e.   APPLICATION: In the End, Messiah will save a faithful remnant. A remnant is a portion of the whole, what is left. Now will you join that faithful few, that remnant? Will you trust him?

a.   Messiah will turn against the rebels among His people and punish them (11-16). Those who worship Fortune and Destiny (Isaiah 65:11) will meet their destiny – destruction and slaughter because they refused to listen to God (Isaiah 65:12; Matthew 22:7; 23:37; Luke 19:27; Acts 13:46).
b.   The contrast is striking between those who enjoy his blessing and those who do not (Isaiah 65:13-14). One will be a curse while the other will be worthy of great honor (Isaiah 65:15) and past troubles will be forgotten (Isaiah 65:16). The accursed will try to curse the elect (Isaiah 65:15a), but curses are useless against the one who is walking with God in truth and faithfulness (Isaiah 65:15b-16a; Proverbs 26:2; Matthew 28:20).
c.   APPLICATION: Are you worshiping at the altar of Fortune? Are you worshiping Destiny? Are you looking for how to climb the ladder? Are you hoping to win the lottery? Are you doing and saying whatever you need to in order to get what you want? 
a.   The Great Promise: Behold Me! (cf. Isaiah 65:1): Messiah is about to create (bara; Genesis 1:1) a new heavens and new earth (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; 2 Peter 3:15; Revelation 21) where his people will enjoy long lives in peace and security (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). This prophecy should be read in tandem with Isaiah 24, but there is no misery in this new creation (Isaiah 65:18-19; 25;8; 35:10; Revelation 7:17; 21:4) in which Christians are called to live even now (Philippians 4:4-5), an already but not yet kingdom. There will be victory over death (Isaiah 65:20; 25:8; 26:17-19; 38:15-17; Genesis 6:3; Jeremiah 17:1-8). Isaiah 65:21-23 is a development of Isaiah 62:8-9 – security will be reality (Leviticus 26:16; Psalm 78:33; Jeremiah 15:8). The climax is Isaiah 65:24-25 where fellowship with Messiah will be restored with his people (Isaiah 30:19; 58:9; Psalm 145:18-19; Matthew 6:8), among his people, even reconciliation with the environment and among the animals (Isaiah 65:25; 11:6-9; Romans 8:19-23).
b.   Isaiah’s vision now reaches out beyond time and into eternity. He sees not only a renewal of our earth under messiah, but further glimpses a new creation. Old Testament prophecy does not make clear the relationship between a renewal of the earth under the Messiah and reconstitution of the heavens and earth envisioned by Isaiah. But the New Testament joins in looking forward to this event. Peter says the “heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Then “in keeping with his promise,” God will create a “new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10, 13). The Apostle John reaffirms Isaiah’s vision “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1). When the grand drama of sin and redemption has been played out, the curtain will rise on glories we cannot even imagine.
c.   Isaiah’s description may combine elements of the millennial kingdom of the Messiah and the eternal new heavens and new earth. However those who study end-time prophecy sort it out, it is clear from Isaiah’s description that a real transformation of our state and our reality lies ahead. Sin’s curse is lifted. Lifespan is extended, and peace is brought even to the animals. All that is wrong on earth will be set right.
d.   ILLUSTRATION: Perhaps you’ve read or seen on television the prophecies that the world will end in 2012 because the Mayan calendar ends there with a catastrophic meltdown. There are others who are saying that Judgment Day is going to be May 21, 2011, as they render it, exactly 7000 years from Noah’s Flood, with the end of the world coming with a fiery end on October 21st of this year.[1] This is nothing new. The end of the world was prophesied to come in 1828 and 88 reasons why the Lord would return in 1988. Then there are prophecies of doom, atomic holocaust, greenhouse ice-cap meltdown, a New Ice Age, a meteor impact, a sun-storm, a mighty super disease.
e.   APPLICATION: What we do know about the timing end is that the Messiah Himself said he does not know the day nor the hour, only the Father knows. But there are some people who purport to know more than Jesus Himself does. But our trust is in the Lord. The real destiny of the earth is described by Isaiah here. Isaiah’s prophecy pledges that all mankind as well as the Jewish people will find Him reigning on his throne at history’s end while those who rebel against him will be scattered (vv.17-24). There is no final doomsday and destruction. There is renewal and life and peace and security for those who believe. Are you one of those? Have you placed your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation? Perhaps you need to do that right now.
Those who trust him can look forward in hope. Those who don’t in fear. Won’t you come to him now in hope?
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