Sermon on Isaiah 65:17-25
Text: “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
“You win some. You lose some.” We’ve all heard this sentiment, haven’t we? A number of years ago, a Peanuts comic strip featured Linus and Charlie Brown. Linus said, “You know, Charlie Brown, life is rarely a one-way street. You win some and you lose some.” Charlie Brown, looking somewhat surprised, said, “Really? That would be neat.” Do you ever feel like Charlie Brown? As you go through your day-to-day life, it seems as though it is always, “You lose some.” Each of us has our own struggles that we have to face. Perhaps, we catch ourselves thinking, “I’m a Christian. You would think that I would have it better than I do.” This morning, as we study God’s Word, we will be reminded of the fact that GOD’S PEOPLE ARE BLESSED 1. In Our Present Day and 2. In The Great Day To Come.
Our sermon text for this morning comes to us from the second to last chapter of the book of Isaiah. In the previous two chapters, we have recorded a prayer from the few remaining believers that Israel would be brought to repentance for continuing to turn away from the Lord and would be restored. Chapter 65 is the Lord’s answer to that prayer. The answer is: ‘It’s too late. They are too far gone.’ Yet, there is hope. The hope resides in the faithful few. Yes, they will be taken into Babylonian Captivity, but they would return. Then, the Lord looks even further into the future to the New Testament times, the times in which you and I are living, and even further to the end of time. To comfort his people in the face of adversity, the Lord promises to bless his people.
First of all, we are going to look at the blessings that we currently enjoy. In verse 25, we read, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.” Here you have a picture of complete and total serenity. The wolf and lamb, predator and prey, are feeding together. The ferocious lion eats straw, like an ox. This is a picture of perfect peace.
This is a picture of the peace that we now enjoy. You might ask, ‘Where is this peace? I don’t see it in the world. There are wars and the like going on. Even in my little corner of the world, I feel stress and uneasiness.’ The peace that God is talking about here is the peace that exists between himself and us. We are at peace with him. This was not always the case. Isaiah wrote earlier in this book, “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” (Isaiah 57:21) You and I, by nature fit into that category. We are the wicked. That fact may cause our backs to rise up a little bit. ‘I’m not really wicked, per se. I am just a person, who has a few faults, but don’t we all. There are many other people who are wicked.’ However, we are all, by nature, wicked. We are sinful. Scriptures tell us clearly, “ All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) As an example of this, have you ever complained about how your life is going? Have you ever found yourself not being content with what you have? In reality, those are sins, because you are telling God that he does not know what he is doing or that he is not providing for you. To do so is to call God a liar, for he promised to take care of you. You see, sin is not just huge, horrible acts that you read about in the news. You and I sin every day. For this, we deserve to spend our eternity apart from God in the pains of hell.
Yet, God here promises peace. How can there be peace with the conditions. There is a clue in verse 25, which says “Dust will be the serpent’s food.” Go back to the first sin, when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree. God told the devil, who appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent, “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:14) Then, God went on and gave the first promise of a Savior who would come and rescue the world. That Savior who was to come was Jesus. Jesus has come and brought peace, peace between God and mankind. Jesus did this by coming to the earth to be our Substitute. Where God demands that you and I be perfect, and we cannot be, Jesus was. He lived a perfect life for us, always trusting that his Father was leading his life where it was to be. Even in the face of his death, he said, “May your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) That death was the sacrifice that had to be made to pay for our sins. Instead of punishing you and me, who deserved it, the Father punished his Son, Jesus, instead. Jesus took our place and suffered our punishment, so that we would never have to. Jesus speaks about this peace in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We enjoy this peace. The peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven. The peace of knowing that God is not angry with us or holds a grudge against us. We enjoy this peace when we are brought to faith. We are blessed today, because we have peace with God.
God speaks of another blessing that we enjoy in verse 24, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” God is speaking about prayer. Here God promises that, even before we ask, he knows what we need. He is there to hear and will answer our prayers in a way that is best for us. What a privilege when we face those uneasy times in our lives, that we can go to the almighty God in prayer and he promises that he will hear and help us. This gives us a peace and a confidence that the unbeliever cannot have.
In verses 20-23, we have God’s promises of protection and providence. In verse 22, we read, “No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.” There were many times in Israel’s history when foreign invaders would come in and take what the Israelites had produced. God is promising his hand of protection of his people. We know that God is still behind the scenes in our lives, making them work for our benefit, as Romans 8:28 reminds us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We might wonder what is meant by verse 20, “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.” Does this mean that, if a person dies before they reach 100, they were not a believer? Of course not. God does allow young men and women, even infants, to perish suddenly. Isaiah wrote elsewhere in this book, “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.” (Isaiah 57:1) Rather, by speaking of a long life, God is speaking in contrast to elsewhere in the Old Testament, which speaks of a shortened life as being a curse. God is telling his people that he will bless them throughout their entire lives. We are recipients of the blessings of God in our present day.
We also know that these are just the beginnings of the blessings that we will receive when we are brought into heaven’s glory. In verse 25, it says, “‘They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the LORD.” The blessings that we will receive when we reach heaven will not be taken from us. We will live in peace and security for all of eternity. Everything will be changed. God says in verse 17, “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” The world will be restored to the way it was when God created them. All of the stain and effects of sin will be gone. Everything that made life so difficult will be forgotten.
God describes the blessings of heaven in verses 18 and 19. First of all, he says, “Be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.” (Verse 18) Jerusalem is often used in the Bible as a synonym for heaven. God says he will make the residents of the heavenly Jerusalem, “a joy.” We will be a joy for him. Finally, we will be able to serve him as he deserves to be served, without the taint of sin. He is looking forward to the time when we can be together forever. Not only will we be a joy to God, we will also be a joy to each other. Even the closest of human relationships, at times, have pain and sorrow. We say or do something that causes hurt to our loved ones, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We get impatient with one another. We say words that hurt each other. When we get to heaven, we will be living in perfect harmony with one another. We will be blessed as we are a joy to God and to one another.
Verse 19 tells us of another blessing that we will enjoy: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” Is there anything in your life that is causing you sorrow right now? Are there days when you just feel that life is just too much? God knows what you are experiencing right now and he has a promise for you. When you get to heaven, he will take all of that pain and hurt away. John echoes the sentiment of this verse in Revelation 7:16&17, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” The absence of sorrow and the overabundance of joy will continue for all eternity. That is another blessing that we, God’s people, look forward to enjoying in God’s time.
Today in Saints Triumphant Sunday. It is a day on which we think of those who have gone before us and are now enjoying all of the blessings that God promised to them. It is also a day when we are reminded that, even though the going may be rough for us on this earth, we will, one day, be triumphant over all of these things. We also know that, even now God is blessing our lives, not because we are such wonderful people, but because we are his children, through faith in Jesus Christ. Keep this in mind on those days when you feel like Charlie Brown and are convinced that you never win any, much less some. We share in the same confidence that Paul has in Romans 8:37-39, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen.
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