Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the pivotal passage in the book of Isaiah. In it we see the Servant of the Lord, our Lord Jesus, doing everything to provide salvation. He dies so that others will receive eternal blessing. After all the foregoing revalations in Isaiah 40:1-52:12 of the failure of the servant of the Lord, Israel, we find One, the Servant of the Lord, who totally succeeds.
With the achievement of a perfect salvation by the self-giving love of the Servant we might expect that all would run smoothly on into blessing upon blessing thereafter. However, with the wretchedness of humanity as the back-drop, the rest of Isaiah is certainly not “happy-ever-after”. The rest of the book will tell us that salvation is not the default position of humanity, rather sin is. It is only when transforming grace reaches our lives and makes good the achievements of the Servant of the Lord that blessing comes.
So as we come towards the end of Isaiah we see Isaiah presenting this contrast. Let us look then specifically at Isaiah 65:1-12;
Salvation is not earned (v1). We learn straight away that the natural tendency of humanity is to turn from God. No matter how much revealing and speaking is done by God the tendency of mankind is to turn away. So we deduce whenever there is blessing that it never comes because people deserve it, it is all through God’s grace.
False Ways (vv2-7). The heart of the problem for the unbelieving was that they were pursuing their own imaginations. This sets such a challenge for ourselves. What is it that drives our lifestyle. Are we driven by our imaginations or by the Lord through His Word?
The character of our life flows out of the origin of our life. There can be lots of religious activity, and the people in vv 3-5 had lots of that, but it was all really a sham. At their hearts they were a people full of sin and defiance of the Lord (see v7). We need to be very careful as we consider this because religious activity is very likely a part of your life if you are reading this. Ask yourself is this activity just a cover for my sin and defiance or is it out of a heart devoted to God?
Moreover, we need to note the endpoint of a religious, but defiant life. It is is judgement; it is to fall under the condemning hand of God. It is always good to consider what will be the end of my ways. Stop and think right now! If you are not in Christ and are still defiant then your end is BAD; very bad.
Blessed Ways. (vv8-10). In vv8-10 we see the servants of the Lord appear. This is not surprising when we remember that the Servant of the Lord came to make servants from among the servant of the Lord, Israel. These people are anticipating blessing. The land was so important to the nation of Israel as it was God’s special gift for them and v9 indicates how a blessing, which will be fully realised in the still future millennium, is set for them.
It is interesting to note that the cause of the life of these blessed people was that they were people who sought the Lord (see v10b). Their passion was to know the Lord. The origin of their lifestyle was seeking the Lord, which means that it was the Lord Himself who brought them blessing.
The Wretched. (vv11-12). The final verses present us with the wayward again. They are forsaking the Lord (see v11a); they are pursuing all kinds of religious practices, but not godly practices (see v11b). The dubious ‘Fortune’ and ‘Destiny’ are the gods they serve, as many do today.
At the heart of their problems was that they refused to listen to the Lord: “when I spoke, no one listened” (v12b) is what the Lord said to them. As a result you “did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.’ (v12c) is the Lord’s assessment. Our attitude to the Lord is vital. If we reject the Lord’s Word we set ourselves in a bad way.
Oh this passage is so sobering. Are you One of the wretched living out your life refusing to hear God’s Word whilst following your own imaginations? Then think about the deadly end of such a way. If you are of the godly seeking the Lord then you have the brightest of futures. The contrast could not be bigger. And finally remember that there is NOT a third way or a third people. You are either saved or lost; blessed or condemned.
This post was taken from the July 2018 Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter.