Today: [Isaiah 65] Is the Church God’s Second Choice? In this chapter, we see Isaiah declaring the coming of the Gentile church by the word of the Lord. Was the church God’s alternative plan after the Jews rejected the Messiah? Is Christianity as we know it simply God’s contingency plan after He came to His own people and His own received Him not? In this chapter Isaiah speaks centuries ahead of time of a people who “are not a people” calling upon the Lord and constituting a chosen community of faith. In that context we can look at the major decisions of the earliest church community regarding Gentile believers and get a deeper sense of our place in the purposes of God.
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[Isa 65:1-25 KJV] 1 I am sought of [them that] asked not [for me]; I am found of [them that] sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation [that] was not called by my name. 2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way [that was] not good, after their own thoughts; 3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; 4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable [things is in] their vessels; 5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These [are] a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. 6 Behold, [it is] written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, 7 Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom. 8 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and [one] saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing [is] in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all. 9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. 10 And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me. 11 But ye [are] they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. 12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose [that] wherein I delighted not.
One of the things that you see in Isaiah is the forthcoming suggestion of the time of the Gentiles. This is the time after the crucifixion of Jesus and the rejection of the gospel preached by Paul that God’s dealings with the Jewish people were no longer exclusive, but included the Gentiles. Thus verse 1 says that God was sought of them that didn’t ask for Him and a nation that wasn’t called by His name inclined to His throne. There are four passages of importance in the New Testament relating to this shift in the purposes of God. Firstly we look at the words of Jesus in John:
[Jhn 10:16 KJV] 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.
Jesus was speaking to the Jewish people, among whom by the law and through the sacrificial system, God had been dealing up until the time that He sent Jesus into their midst. When Jesus died and the veil was rent it two in front of the Holy of Holies, something very significant happened relating to the standing of Gentiles who chose to believe in what happened at the cross. This is not to denigrate or diminish the Jewish nation. They did this historically by their own action of rejecting Jesus. Unlike what some Christian teachers have contended, being Jewish is not equivelant with being born again. The earliest church community, being almost exclusively Jewish by birth understood this yet rejoiced to see the salvation of God visited upon the Gentiles:
[Act 11:18 KJV] 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Paul the apostle began his ministry speaking exclusively to Jewish people. Over time after endure severe persecution Paul declared in Acts 13:
[Act 13:46 KJV] 46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
After a time the church, though thoroughly a Jewish sect led by Jewish leaders, began to be populated more by Gentiles than by those of Hebrew extraction. This brought friction between the two groups as Jewish devotees began to demand the Gentile believers not only accept Christ but convert to Judaism. Had this gone unaddressed, Christianity as we have known it would not have developed. Thus the gathering of leaders in Acts 15 is very important for us to note:
[Act 15:23-24, 28-29 KJV] 23 And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment: … 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
None of these events mean that God has permanently rejected the destiny of the bloodline of Abraham. What it does mean is that the national and personal rejection of Jesus by Israel and individual Jewish people has implications for the nation and for the people individually. Those of Jewish birth do not have an alternative approach to God not available to the Gentile race. The message to Judaism today is the same as it was on the day of Pentecost when Peter stood up and said “repent and be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost…”
13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: 14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. 15 And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name: 16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. 17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever [in that] which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner [being] an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust [shall be] the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Here in verse 13 is the line of delineation for those who know God and those who do not. His servants shall eat and drink and rejoice in His goodness, but those who reject the message of the cross shall be thirsty and ashamed. This statement in verse 13 refutes the teaching present in Christian circles today that since Jesus died for all, that all are saved. If you believe that then you are obligated by that belief to redact passages such as Isaiah 65 from your bible, or to come up with some convoluted thinking whereby the Old Testament is marginalized to the degree that violence is done to sacred writ in favor of a damnable teaching that precludes the need for faith, repentance, and a separated life. Verse 14 drives home the point that God’s servants shall sing for joy but those who reject Christ shall howl for sorrow of heart and vexation of spirit. Why? Because God as an omnipotent being is unfairly tormenting the helpless who choose not to believe? No, the suffering of the faithless is simply a part of necessary consequence that is the outcome of free will. If man chooses to exclude God then that is his right, but excluding God involves expulsion from everything that God is and desires to be in man’s life. Thus outside of the goodness of God there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth, in spite of everything God has done including the sacrifice of the cross to bring about just the opposite.
In verse 17 we see that our hope is not only blessedness here and now but also the promise of a new order. One day a new heaven and a new earth will emerge. This answers the question whether the earth will eventually be completely annihilated. It is true that 2 Peter 3:10 speaks of a cataclysm so severe that even at an atomic level the elements shall melt with fervent heat, but out of the ashes the purposes of God will emerge in the formation of a habitation of man beyond anything that Eden ever promised, where the lamb is the light and God’s kingdom rules over all. Is this fantasy? Is it merely the arcane believe based upon an ancient text that has no truth or bearing on life as we know it? The portents of scripture affirm otherwise. The signs of the times suggest that the lead up to these monumental events are upon us, even in our lifetime we are beginning to see irrefutable evidence that it is near, even at the door.
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