The Life, Times And Message Of Isaiah The Prophet Dec/Jan 1974/1975
JEHOVAH’S REPLY TO ISRAEL’S PLEADINGS
ISAIAH CHAPTER 65:17-25
17-25 Jehovah will create a new universe and a glorious new Jerusalem
17 For, behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth,
And past events will not be remembered not brought to mind.
18 But rejoice and be glad forever,
For, behold, I create Jerusalem a joy
And her people a rejoicing.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and have joy in My people;
And the voice of weeping and the voice of crying
Shall no longer be heard in her.
20 From then on there shall no longer be an infant of days
Nor an old man who will not live out his days,
For the youth shall die a hundred years old,
And the sinner of a hundred years shall be accursed.
21 And they shall build houses and inhabit them,
They shall plant vineyards and shall eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit,
They shall not plant and another eat,
For the days of My people shall be like the days of the tree,
And My chosen ones shall enjoy for a long time
The labors of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
Nor give birth for terror,
For they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD,
And their offspring with them.
24 And it shall be so that before they will call, I shall answer.
And while they are still speaking, I shall hear.
25 The wolf and the tender lamb shall feed together as one,
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And the serpent’s food shall be dust.
They shall do no harm nor destroy,
In all My holy mountain, says the LORD.
17-25 The glory of the new universe and the perfect happiness of the new Jerusalem.
17 For, behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth
Just as in the beginning God created a perfect heaven and earth, so now, after having executed judgment upon the ungodly, the Lord will recreate a new heaven and earth, a new cosmos, a completely new order of things.
18 For behold I create Jerusalem a joy and her people a rejoicing
The glory of this new world will be Jerusalem and her people, in whom God Himself will have joy.
19 And the voice of weeping and the voice of crying
Shall no longer be heard in her
One of the wonderful aspects of the new Jerusalem will be the absence of tears, of sorrow and suffering.
In Rev. 21:1-4, the same theme is enlarged upon in detail, surpassing in splendor the original vision of Isaiah:
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
For the first heaven and the earth were passed away;
And there was no more sea,
Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying:
Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men
and He will dwell with them
And they shall be His people, and God shall
be with them and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes;
And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
Neither shall there be any more pain;
For the former things are passed away.’ ”
20 From then on there shall no longer be an infant of days
A prominent aspect of the new era will be the longevity of men and the absence of premature death. This brings to mind the Genesis story of the long-lived men before sin and moral decay set in.1
21 And they shall build houses and inhabit them
They shall plant vineyards and shall eat their fruit
The long enjoyment of their labors and security from hostile ravages will be another of the blessings which God shall bestow upon His people.
22 For the days of My people shall be like the days of the tree
The people shall be as long-lived and sturdy as the trees. Perhaps the prophet had in mind the great oak tree and the gnarled olive of the Holy Land, famous for their longevity.
23 They shall not labor in vain nor give birth for terror
The fear of enemy invasion and destruction was an ever present danger for the inhabitants of Israel and Judea. In the new era all this will be a thing of the past. They and their offspring will live in perfect security, protected by the Lord Himself.
24 And it shall be so that before they will call, I shall answer
The greatest of blessings of redeemed Israel will be the readiness, indeed the eagerness of Jehovah to answer their prayers, even before they would formulate their prayers or express their needs.
25 The wolf and the tender lamb shall feed together as one
The prophet reverts to his early vision of perfect peace in the animal world, parallelled by peace among the nations, who will be led by a little child (Is. 11:6-9). It is a Messianic vision of the Kingdom of God presided over and guided by the King Messiah (Is. 11:1-5, 10).
The wolf and the tender lamb (Hebrew – toleh), a lamb, which is so young and delicate that it has to be carried. The meaning of this passage is not merely of harmony, but of a total transformation of human and animal nature. This will cause the wolf not to feed upon the helpless lamb, just as the transformation of the lion will cause it to eat straw like the ox, and for the serpent to feed upon dust. The passage may be understood both in its literal as well as in its figurative sense. In such a transformed world there shall be no war, nor destruction among the nations, even as the prophet Isaiah earlier saw in his vision:
“They shall not hurt nor destroy
In all My holy Mountain,
For the earth shall be filled of the knowledge of the LORD
Even as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9)
1 It is interesting to note that among the blessings of the new era immortality is not mentioned. However, it is not completely absent from the prophet’s thought. In his earlier writings Isaiah exclaims triumphantly:
“He will swallow up death forever,
And the LORD God shall wipe away tears from all faces.” 25:8
“The dead shall live, their dead bodies shall arise” 26:19
Neither is the hope of immortality absent from other sacred writings in the Old Testament (see Job 19:25-27, Ps. 17:15, 49:15, Ps. 73:24, Dan. 12:2 and indirectly in Eze. 37:7-10).
Yet the dominant theme of the Old Testament is that the LORD blesses His saints with favors here on earth, with peace, long life, godly children, good harvests, above all with the abiding presence of a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. No doubt, however subdued, the hope of immortality must have been present in the people’s minds, but it seldom finds expression. With the passing of the centuries, the experiences of invasions, enemy oppression, exile, and every kind of injustice and suffering, personal and national longing for eternal life where the just shall receive their rewards, and all the wrongs will be set right, greatly increased. This hope finds full expression in the apocryphal writings, in the book of Enoch, the Wisdom of Solomon and in the book of Brauch. In the New Testament, in the Gospels and the Epistles, the resurrection and eternal life through the Risen Christ are central themes. The Apostle Paul voices this faith in his ringing declaration:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ,
we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Cor. 15:19
For a fuller discussion of this subject see the author’s pamphlet, “Immortality in Jewish Thought,” published by The FRIENDS OF ISRAEL.