Devotional Commentary on Isaiah 65


Isaiah focused on two aspects in this chapter, firstly to describe the character of God, a very special God and secondly, to describe the condition of the remnant seed as compared to the remnant weed at the end-time.


Several aspects of the character of God come to the fore in this chapter:

-God approaches the non-approaching (v. 1);

-there is a written revelation of God’s justice that He will repay everyone according to their deeds (v. 6a-c);

-that He is a protective God of the remnant seed (v. 8c-e);

-that He is a God Who hide sins because of repentance (v. 16d-e);

-that He is a God of speedy actions on the requests of His remnant (v. 24).


These are fascinating aspects of God. Even though people did not ask for God He permitted Himself to be sought by them; He permitted Himself to be found by people who did not seek Him (v. 1a-b). He called them to say: “Here am I, here am I” (v. 1c) just like the day He was looking for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they have sinned.


The nation did not call on His name (v. 1d). The people are rebellious but “all day long“ He has “spread out My hands” (v. 2a). They walk the way which is not good following their own thoughts (v. 2b).


They provoke God to His face and offering sacrifices in gardens and burns incense on bricks (v. 3); sit among graves and spend the night in secret places (v. 4a); they eat swine flesh or ham or pigmeat or pig-sausages (v. 4b); and in their pots are unclean meat (v. 4c) which is lobsters, shellfish, pig, dog-meat or bosingtang, ham, bacon, pig-sausages, viennas, duck, squid, barber-fish, frogs, rabbits, tuna-fish, shark, octopus, and all the list of forbidden animals in Leviticus 11.


A century before Isaiah’s birth a text from Nimrud, ND 5545 found in room NT 12 explained what the king should not do or do the first seven days of Tishri: he shall not eat garlic or a scorpion shall strike him; he shall not eat onion or there will be oppression of his inside for him; he shall not eat a dormouse for it is an abomination to Ninlil [their god] and if he does he will see sickness. For other days similar prohibitions were given but if ignored a different evil will happen. On the second day he should not eat garlic, cooked flesh, flesh of an ox, goat or pig. On the third day he should not eat fish, nor have intercourse with a woman. On the fourth day he shall not eat the flesh of a bird, dates, garlic or onion. On the fifth day he shall not eat pig. On the eighth day the king was to cleanse himself as a result of abstinence of the items just listed and now he was to “fill his house with fruit from his garden”. Vegetarian diet is seen as the closest clean acceptable situation to approach the god (K. van Wyk Archaeology in the Bible 1996 page 323-325).


Even though ceremonial laws are no longer important after Christ, yet, the forbidden animals are still forbidden even unto our day since they were excluded for practical reasons by Christ:  herbivores were permitted by Leviticus 11 but what was eaten here in Isaiah’s time were carnivores, raptures, scavengers. Since Ellen White mentioned that in the last days herbivores will also not be fit to eat, what can we do with all the injections they are given and the battery systems they are fed with an unhealthy diet and exercise program, say but that she was right?


They say to God: “Keep to Yourself and do not come near me for I am holier than you” (v. 5a-b). The result of these unholy rebellious actions of the remnant is that it is like smoke in God’s nose, a fire that burns all day (v. 5c-d).


There is a written record that God wants justice and that He will repay all according to their deeds (v. 6). God will count both their iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together (v. 7a). The reason is they have burned incense on the mountains for idols and gods (v. 7b) and on the hills they worshipped these gods and “scorned” God (v. 7c). God will measure their former work into their bosom (v. 7d).


Then we learn of God’s intention to protect the remnant “I will act on behalf of My servants in order not to destroy all of them” (v. 8c-d). The result of this protective action of God is that He will bring an “offspring of Jacob and an heir of My mountains from Judah” (v. 9a-b).


The Lord will gather them at the Second Coming and “even My chosen ones shall inherit it” [heavenly Zion or heavenly Jerusalem] (v. 9c). “And My servants shall dwell there” (v. 9d). Where in this earth geographically Sharon is “shall be a pasture land for flocks” and where in this earth history Achor is, on the new earth recreated by God, it shall be “a resting place for herds” (v. 10). It shall be “for My people [the remnant seed] who seek Me” (v. 10c).


These are the beautiful events that will take place for the faithful remnant but the weeds in the remnant, the unfaithful, will have a different destiny in the eschaton. “Those who forsake the Lord, who forget My holy mountain [the sanctuary message in heaven where the throne-room of God is which is also called the mountain of the Lord] who set a table for fortune [magic, spiritism, Satan’s deceptions] and who fill with mixed wine for Destiny” (v. 11) the Lord will destine for the sword and slaughter [of the first coming shock of His glory and for the Hell after the millennium for final eradication]. “I called but you did not answer” which means that throughout their lives from birth to death, they did not pay heed to the call of the Lord (v. 12d). They did evil in the sight of the Lord and “chose that in which I did not delight” (v. 12e-f).


When Isaiah opened the next panel of the end-time, he makes a comparison between the remnant seed and what will happen to them and the remnant weed and their events:

-remnant seed will eat but the remnant weed will be hungry (v. 13b);

-remnant seed will drink but the remnant weed will be thirsty (v. 13c);

-remnant seed will rejoice but the remnant weed shall be put to shame (v. 13d);

-remnant seed will shout joyfully with a glad heart but the remnant weed shall wail with a heavy heart (v. 14a-b);

-the remnant weed shall wail with a broken spirit (v. 14c);

-the remnant weed’s name shall be for a curse to the remnant seed (v. 15a);

-the Lord will slay the remnant weed and the remnant seed will call them by another name (v. 15c);

-remnant seed shall be blessed by the God of truth on the new earth (v. 16a-b); -the remnant seed who shall swear on the new earth shall do so by the God of truth (v. 16c-d);

-the remnant seed’s former troubles are forgotten by God because God will hide it from His sight (v. 16e-f).


We know it is not during this history between the eternity past and eternity future because Isaiah linked the previous events for the remnant seed with the causal particle “for” (ki) “I create new heavens and a new earth” (v. 17a). It is not only in Revelation 21:1 that the concept existed or that it was invented by John on Patmos.


This new earth concept was explained to Adam and Eve in Eden already and existed in every generation. People will not remember on the new earth the former things (v. 17b). They will rejoice “forever in what I create for behold I create Jerusalem rejoicing” (v. 18a-b). He creates the remnant seed “her people” gladness (v. 18c). God will be present there just like Joel saw in vision at the end of His book that God is in Zion (Joel 3:17) so here God says “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people” (v. 18d).


Evil will not be present in the New Jerusalem “and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying” for eternity came and evil does not exist (v. 19b-c).


Isaiah is dealing in the next verses with the Ancient Near Eastern concept of longevity. Delitzch in Vol. II 1890 page 450 footnote 1 provided two examples of Ancient Near Eastern sense of longevity: one from the ancient Greek literature similar to the days of Isaiah and another from the time of Paul et al in the New Testament, Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews. From the time of Isaiah comes the saying of Hesiod that “a hundred years were the duration of childhood in the silver age” Erg. v. 130. The expression compares very well in time with that of Isaiah 62:20c that a child dying at 100 …., which is talking of children in the longevity period described by Moses in the first chapters of Genesis. In that description the age of Methuselah touched almost on a millennium. So the Jewish historian in New Testament times wrote that the men of primeval days lived a thousand years (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews i. 3. 9). Despite longevity, they all died. But in Isaiah’s message, despite longevity with death, the New Jerusalem has longevity unparalleled in historical time, without death. Thus: “no longer…”


D. Moore added a note to the commentary of C. W. E. Nägelsbach 1878 page 696 about Rabbi Kimchi in the Middle Ages suggested that “there shall be no more thence..” to mean “there shall be no more taken away thence and carried thence to burial.” Moore then translated the same adding the concept of “come into existence = hayah” with it: “there shall no suckling thence arise [hayah] or come into being who shall live only some days, whose age shall be counted by days”.


Skeptical of verses 20-22, C. W. E. Nägelsbach 1878 page 696 was not convinced that there is not a paradox or contradiction here: “What follows, strictly taken, contradicts what has been said. For if no one, not even an old man, falls short of the normal measure, then no one can die as a boy”.


The translator of his commentary from German to English disagrees immediately and D. Moore wrote in 1878 a note to Nägelsbach’s criticism: “But the Prophet does not say that no one, not even an old man, falls short of the normal measure, in the former part of ver. 20. When one who dies at the age of hundred years is counted a boy, and when a sinner who dies a hundred years old is regarded as prematurely cut off by the judgment of God, this is no contradiction of the declaration that the suckling’s age will not be reckoned by days, and that old men will fill up the measure of their days. For the hundred years old sinner will not be included in the category of old men. There is no need of adopting the forced construction proposed by Dr. Naegelsbach  to get rid on an imaginary contradiction. The examples here given he holds to be unreal and only supposed by way of illustration. If it were possible that there should still be sinners, one of them, who should be punished with death when a hundred years old, would be regarded as cursed by God, and forever excluded from mercy. And if one of a hundred years should die a natural death, (supposing such a case, which from what has been said cannot really occur [my note to Moore: it did happen before Noah in Genesis 1-6]), he would be only a boy at his death”. 


Even preterist Moore did not fully understood the verse because he is not an Adventist.  It is a comparison of longevity in this history [Moses’ description of it in the first six chapters of Genesis] and longevity after the Flood of Noah in our own time with the concept of eternal life. The key word is “no longer.” Evil in the longevity period described by Moses could only have child of a hundred years old and an old man living his life in full unto nearly a thousand years like Methuselah.


Poor A. Barnes the preterist in 1847 page 431 became very uncomfortable with these verses 20-22 and insisted that people should not take them literally: “If it is to be regarded as literally to be fulfilled, then for the same reason we are to suppose that in that time [heaven arrived] the nature of the lion will be literally changed, and that he will eat straw like the ox, and that the nature of the wolf and the lamb will be so far changed that they shall lie down together, ver. 25. But there is no reason to suppose this; nor is there any good reason to suppose that literally no infant or child will die in those times, or that no old man will be infirm, or that all will live to the same great age.” He then proceed to explain longevity in the Patriarchal age as a blessing, as an image of prosperity, of happiness. “All these are poetic images designed as illustrations of the general truth, and like other poetic images they are not to be taken literally.” Barnes started to put on breaks against literal interpretation from verse 16. Adventism do understand it literally and there are no contradictions here. Longevity was a historical fact but with death. No more. In those historical days before Noah children died 100 years of age. A fact, not fiction, not figuratively, but literal.


Adventist J. Paulien said about verse 20: “…is a ‘problem text’ when read from a New Testament mind-set, but it made perfect sense in the setting of what might have been after the return from the Babylonian exile” (J. Paulien, Endtime page 61). Red-card of borrowed preteristic Reformed Interpretation as inroads in Adventist scholar’s thinking.


No longer will there be an infant days” (v. 20a) like they charter the progress of the fetus in days and week schedules in this earthly history because eternity is forever.


Or an old man who does not live out his days” because in the evil of this history, old men are not living out their days, they die before they reach 80 or 90 (v. 20b).


For the accursed (v. 20e) “the youth will die at the age of hundred” (v. 20c) meaning that hardly anyone get older than a century in this history between eternity past and eternity future “and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be accursed” for that is what the situation is in this history but not so in eternity. Isaiah wish to say that there will be no more accursed situations, the death-decree no longer exists with its punishment for the sins of Adam and Eve.


One is not supposed to live to a 100 because there is no death in eternity, this is what Isaiah means here.


Only the accursed or evil die whether 100 or earlier. Whether in the longevity period described by Moses in Genesis 1-6 in 1460 BCE or whether in our own time when old men hardly live longer than 100 years. David use to talk that one becomes 70 and if you are strong 80. The singer George Beverly Shea became 104.


No longer . . .” of verse 20a includes all the this-world conditions listed after the statement and the cherry on the cake of this-world conditions is the term “accursed” which is the evil or the evil of history before eternity starts. Whether longevity era or non-longevity era, the punishment of death for sin rules history until history will be no more. Isaiah wants to dwell outside of history here. In Isaiah 25:8 he refers to the cancelling of death Delitzsch reminded us (Delitzsch Vol. II 1890 page 450-451). Of course Delitzsch wants to see here just the extension of death not its cancellation. The context do not allow what Delitzsch is opting for.


R. Gane in 2004 in his Sabbath School Quarterly on Isaiah understood the intention of Isaiah correctly on page 105: “People normally will live considerably longer than a century before they die (vs. 20)....Thus far we have a picture of tranquil long lives in the Promised Land. But even though people live longer, they still die.” Also on the same page. “Suppose instead of living 60,70,90, or even 100 years, most people lived a million years or more. Why, still, would the fundamental problem of humanity not be solved? Why is eternal life the only answer to our deepest human needs?” Gane weighs the longevity  of history with the longevity of eternity. This is what Isaiah did.


On the new earth created by God “they shall build houses and inhabit, they shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (v. 21a-b). Other people will not inhabit their buildings or eat their fruit (v. 22a-b) for “as the life time of a tree, so the days of My people” which means it is the Ancient Near Eastern concept of longevity (v. 22c).


“‘Days of a tree.’ The tree is the longest-lived living thing known. Hence the prophet uses that to illustrate long life.” So M. L. Andreasen in his 1929 Sabbath School Quarterly on Isaiah page 37. Andreasen understood correctly that Isaiah is scooping-up illustrations known to him of longevity. He then cited Ellen White about the concept of self-development in heaven: “There every power will be developed, every capability increased. The grandest enterprises will be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations will be reached, the highest ambitions realized. And still there will appear new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects of study to call forth the powers of body and mind and soul.’”—Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, page 731.


The remnant seed shall enjoy the work of their hands (v. 22d). They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity (v. 23a-b) because calamity shall not exist any longer. The reason is that the remnant seed is “the offspring of those blessed by the Lord and their descendants with them” (v. 23c-d). Isaiah describes against the character of God that before they call God already made it to “come to pass” and while they are still speaking “I will hear” (v. 24).


The wolf and the lamb shall graze together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox and dust shall be the snake’s food and no longer mice or insects or frogs (v. 25). “They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain, says the Lord” which is not an excited imagination that gripped Isaiah to be full of symbolical metaphors but reality of future conditions spelled out by God.


Dear God

You approach the non-approaching and keep looking for those who do not care about You. Help us to see Your loving and caring character. Save us from ourselves O Lord. Amen.