God promises to punish stubborn Israel. But remnants will survive from both Israel and Judah. One day God will restore them to the land of Israel, where those who truly seek him will live in great blessing, peace and prosperity during the Millennium.
The previous chapter is a prayer by the lost tribes of Israel, longing for God to once again intervene in earthly affairs and to deliver them as he delivered Israel back in the days of the exodus. It ends with the questions, "In light of all this (the desolation of Israel and its temple), how can you still hold back, Lord? How can you be silent and continue to humiliate us?" Here in chapter 65, the first seven verses answer those questions, giving reasons why God allowed such disaster to befall Israel in the past. But in verse 8, God promises that a remnant will survive. In verses 9 to 25, he promises to one day restore them to the land of Israel, where those who truly seek him will live in great blessing, peace and prosperity in a new millennial age.

God's accusations against ancient Israel
In verse 1, Isaiah prophesies God's outreach to Gentile nations saying (literally) "I allowed myself to be sought by those who did not ask. I allowed myself to be found by those who did not seek" (see NET bible notes). The implication is that they respond to his outreach. The Gentiles' positive response is contrasted in verse 2 with that of Israel, "I spread out my hands all day long to my rebellious people, who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable, and who did what they desired". Paul quotes these two verses in Romans 10:20-21, along with Deuteronomy 32:21, when discussing Israel's rejection and God's outreach to Gentile nations. Paul argues that God's outreach to Gentile nations is intended to make Israel jealous and to lead them back to obedience. In verses 3 to 7, God continues to confront Israel with its pagan practices and pursuit of foreign gods, for which he promises to punish her in full measure (v7). This was fulfilled in 722 BC when the northern kingdom was exiled by the Assyrians, again in 586 BC when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, and again in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.

A surviving remnant
In verses 8 to 9, God promises that remnants will survive both from Jacob (the northern kingdom) and from Judah (the southern kingdom) to take possession of the mountains of Israel. He calls these remnants 'my chosen ones' and 'my servants' (v9). They will once again possess the lands of their ancestors (v10), including Sharon (which belonged to the northern kingdom) and the Valley of Achor (which belonged to Judah). The land will become fertile again and their animals will graze there.

In verses 11-15, God stresses that he will make a clear distinction between the remnant that seeks him and the generations of Israelites who abandoned God and rebelled against him. Unlike those who rebelled, the remnant will no longer be hungry, thirsty, humiliated, crushed, cursed or killed. Instead, they will eat, drink, rejoice, and shout for joy (v13-15). They will no longer be killed by God (v15) like the generation to whom God became their enemy (Isaiah 63:10). Instead, they will be people to whom God will give a new name (v15). They will know God as a faithful God who blesses them, and their past problems will be forgotten (v16). But as for the generations who rejected God, God will kill them and their names will live on in the curses of God's chosen ones (v15). These judgments that God proclaims against rebel Israelites appear to describe eternal judgments as well as past judgments. In verse 16, God promises to prove faithful to his remnant, and that they will forget their past problems.

Verses 17 to 25 reveal that God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, and the former ones will be forgotten. Initially, one would assume these to be the new heaven and new earth that are revealed to John in Revelation 21-22. However, several details indicate that Isaiah is actually describing millennial Jerusalem and the millennial earth. Millennial Jerusalem, and the people who live there, will be a source of great joy to God (v18-19). Its inhabitants will enjoy long life, of at least 100 years. But the fact that they will eventually die indicates this is not the eternal New Jerusalem, in which there will be no more death (Revelation 21:4). They will enjoy security, for they will live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit they grow (v21), unlike in previous generations where enemies occupied their homes and ate their fruit (v22). They will experience God's blessing in their work and in their family lives, without disaster or frustration (v23). God will respond to their prayers before they even finish praying (v24). Even nature will be redeemed, so that animals will no longer prey on each other, but become vegetarian! Dangerous animals will no longer harm anyone (v25). Isaiah 11 gives a similar portrayal of life during the Millennium.
Places: Zion, Jerusalem, Millennial Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, Israel, Sharon, Valley of Achor
Tags: Gospel to the Gentiles, God punishes stubborn and rebellious Israel, Return of exiles to Israel, Restoration of Israel and Judah, God restores a remnant to Israel, Millennium, Millennial Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, Millennial peace, Millennial prosperity, Long life in the Millennium, New heaven and new earth
1 “I made myself available to those who did not ask for me; I appeared to those who did not look for me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation that did not invoke my name.
2 I spread out my hands all day long to my rebellious people, who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable, and who did what they desired.
3 These people continually and blatantly offend me as they sacrifice in their sacred orchards and burn incense on brick altars.
4 They sit among the tombs and keep watch all night long. They eat pork, and broth from unclean sacrificial meat is in their pans.
5 They say, ‘Keep to yourself! Don’t get near me, for I am holier than you!’ These people are like smoke in my nostrils, like a fire that keeps burning all day long.
6 Look, I have decreed: I will not keep silent, but will pay them back; I will pay them back exactly what they deserve,
7 for your sins and your ancestors’ sins,” says the Lord. “Because they burned incense on the mountains and offended me on the hills, I will punish them in full measure.”

8 This is what the Lord says: “When juice is discovered in a cluster of grapes, someone says, ‘Don’t destroy it, for it contains juice.’ So I will do for the sake of my servants – I will not destroy everyone.
9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah people to take possession of my mountains. My chosen ones will take possession of the land; my servants will live there.
10 Sharon will become a pasture for sheep, and the Valley of Achor a place where cattle graze; they will belong to my people, who seek me.
11 But as for you who abandon the Lord and forget about worshiping at my holy mountain, who prepare a feast for the god called ‘Fortune,’ and fill up wine jugs for the god called ‘Destiny’ –
12 I predestine you to die by the sword, all of you will kneel down at the slaughtering block, because I called to you, and you did not respond, I spoke and you did not listen. You did evil before me; you chose to do what displeases me.”
13 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look, my servants will eat, but you will be hungry! Look, my servants will drink, but you will be thirsty! Look, my servants will rejoice, but you will be humiliated!
14 Look, my servants will shout for joy as happiness fills their hearts! But you will cry out as sorrow fills your hearts; you will wail because your spirits will be crushed.
15 Your names will live on in the curse formulas of my chosen ones. The Sovereign Lord will kill you, but he will give his servants another name.
16 Whoever pronounces a blessing in the earth will do so in the name of the faithful God; whoever makes an oath in the earth will do so in the name of the faithful God. For past problems will be forgotten; I will no longer think about them.
17 For look, I am ready to create new heavens and a new earth! The former ones will not be remembered; no one will think about them anymore.
18 But be happy and rejoice forevermore over what I am about to create! For look, I am ready to create Jerusalem to be a source of joy, and her people to be a source of happiness.
19 Jerusalem will bring me joy, and my people will bring me happiness. The sound of weeping or cries of sorrow will never be heard in her again.
20 Never again will one of her infants live just a few days or an old man die before his time. Indeed, no one will die before the age of a hundred, anyone who fails to reach the age of a hundred will be considered cursed.
21 They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build a house only to have another live in it, or plant a vineyard only to have another eat its fruit, for my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will enjoy to the fullest what they have produced.
23 They will not work in vain, or give birth to children that will experience disaster. For the Lord will bless their children and their descendants.
24 Before they even call out, I will respond; while they are still speaking, I will hear.
25 A wolf and a lamb will graze together; a lion, like an ox, will eat straw, and a snake’s food will be dirt. They will no longer injure or destroy on my entire royal mountain,” says the Lord.