Old Testament Israel – New Testament Salvation #7- The New Creation Part 2- More on Isaiah 66

Old Testament Israel – New Testament Salvation- #7-
New Creation Part Two- Isaiah 66

Be sure to read my previous article on the New Creation. I am unaware of anyone that denies that the New Creation prophecies of the New Creation flow out of the OT predictions of the New Creation. Perhaps I have missed someone, but I have examined many, many commentators. But in our examination of Isaiah 65, it was shown, definitively, that the New Creation would come when Old Covenant Israel was destroyed. This verifies my proposition, which is: “There are no new eschatological prophecies in the NT. All NT eschatology was the expectation of the (imminent) fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.”

My purpose in this installment is to confirm the previous one, by examining another one of the crucial, foundational Old Covenant promises of the New Creation and to show that:

1. That promise was linked directly to the coming judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the temple,

and,

2. To show that the New Testament writers were anticipating the imminent fulfillment of Isaiah 66.

While I will also deal later with Isaiah chapters 54 & 60, let’s look now at Isaiah 66 and its promise of the coming New Heaven and Earth. Although it is lengthy I will give here the bulk of the chapter.

Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” Hear the word of the Lord, You who tremble at His word: “Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, That we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.” The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the Lord, Who fully repays His enemies! “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory.” For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, And your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants, And His indignation to His enemies. For behold, the Lord will come with fire And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword The Lord will judge all flesh; And the slain of the Lord shall be many. “Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens After an idol in the midst, Eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse, Shall be consumed together,” says the Lord. “For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. 20 Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the Lord. “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

To make this article manageable in length let me present some bullet points from the chapter.

➔ The Lord begins by “devaluing” the physical temple and promising that the humble and obedient will be His temple (vss. 1-3). This was radical, and doubtlessly disturbing for those who put their trust in the Temple and not in the Lord.

➔ YHVH castigates those who put their trust in the temple, all the while abusing the temple cultus: “He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.”
One has but to read the entirety of Matthew 23 to see how Israel of the first century was abusing the Temple and their relationship with God. And given the fact that Stephen applied Isaiah 66 to his day and time, this strongly indicates that he saw the abuses of Isaiah as applicable to that time as well.

➔ Although the Lord called on Israel to obey Him and walk in His ways: “When I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” This is a reiteration of chapter 65, where twice, the Lord spoke of Israel’s refusal to respond to His call (v. 1, 12). Remember, because this is important, Paul specifically applied Isaiah 65 – and thus, Isaiah 66 – to Israel of his generation (Romans 10:20-21). No interpretation of Isaiah 65-66 can be correct if the inspired temporal application of these prophecies is overlooked or ignored.

➔ Not only did the nation not respond to the Lord’s call, they persecuted the faithful remnant. But God gave a word of comfort to the humble and obedient: “Hear the word of the Lord, You who tremble at His word: ‘Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, That we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.” So, the remnant, the obedient ones, were actually being cast out of the temple for obeying the Lord!
We cannot help but be reminded of what happened in the first century to the followers of Jesus – those who accepted the Lord’s call. They were put out of the synagogue and persecuted (Acts 17-18). And as a result of persecuting the true followers of God, Paul promised that wrath was coming on the persecutors (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 / 2 Thessalonians 1). The first century relevance and application of Isaiah by Paul is powerful and probative. See my book, In Flaming Fire, for an excellent exegesis of 2 Thessalonians on this important subject.

➔ As a result of Israel’s refusal to hear God’s call an ominous threat is made, “So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them.” What Israel feared was the destruction of their beloved city and temple. But, the Lord of Hosts declared: “The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the Lord, Who fully repays His enemies!” Thus, God was going to bring on Israel the time of retribution and vengeance, as the Voice of Doom heralded that coming judgment against the city and temple.

➔ That coming vengeance against the persecutors of the faithful would be at the parousia of the Day of the Lord: “For behold, the Lord will come with fire And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword The Lord will judge all flesh; And the slain of the Lord shall be many” (v. 15). We will look at this below.

➔ In verses 17ff we find that there would be “survivors” of the Day of the Lord – something that hardly comports with this being a prediction of the end of the world! And the fact that those survivors would then go the utmost parts of the world, to preach the Name of the Lord:

“I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles.”

This entire passage precludes any suggestion that the coming of the Lord and the New Creation in v. 15f – and thus, in 2 Thessalonians 1- was predicting an “end of time / end of human history” event. No one, literally no one that I am aware of, believes that after the “end of the world” there will be on-going evangelism by the survivors of the Day of the Lord! Yet that is precisely what is being predicted here.

➔ Flowing out of that Day of the Lord in flaming fire to avenge His saints, we find the promise of the New Heaven and Earth: “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me…” Thus, precisely as we found in Isaiah 65, the New Creation would come as a direct result of, and at the time of, the judgment against Old Covenant Jerusalem and the temple. This connection is what is either overlooked or ignored by the vast majority of commentators, yet the connections are undeniable. Be sure to read my short series: “A Comparative Analysis: Paul and Isaiah 65-66.” Here is a link to article #1 of my three part series.

With these bullet points before us, note some crucial facts.

✷ First, as noted, in Romans 10:20-21, Paul directly cites Isaiah 65:1-2, 12, and 66:4, and applied them to Israel of the first century in their rejection of the Gospel call.

✷ Second, it is likewise widely accepted that in 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul not only quotes verbatim from Isaiah 2:9-10, 19-21 in predicting the impending fate of the persecutors of the Thessalonian brethren, but, that his reference to the Lord coming “in flaming fire” is drawn directly from Isaiah 66:15. See Charles Wanamaker, New International Greek Testament Commentary, Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1990), 224f). See also Gene L. Green, Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Letters to the Thessalonians, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2002), 289). as just two examples of many that could be given. On page 286, n. 3, Green cites Roger Aus, “The Relevance of Isaiah 66:7 to Revelation 12 and 2 Thessalonians 1.” Aus points our how heavily Paul draws on Isaiah 66 in 2 Thessalonians 1. Aus, ZNW 67 (1976) 252-268). It is actually difficult to find a commentator that disagrees with this linkage.

✷ Third, it is – or should be – patently obvious that Isaiah 66 did not predict an end of time or end of human history at the coming of the Lord in flaming fire or in the New Creation. Carefully note that after the Day of the Lord in flaming fire, there would be “survivors” of that Day! Not only would there be survivors, but, those survivors would then go to the nations and proclaim that name of the Lord:

For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. 19 I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles (Isaiah 66:18-19).

So, we have here the Day of the Lord in flaming fire. We have the judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. We have the gathering of the nations (think Matthew 25:31f). And we have survivors of that judgment who then go “to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory” to proclaim that name and the glory of YHVH to those people. Those people are specifically called the Gentiles.

Isaiah 63 helps us nail down who these nations, “the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory” are. They are not the “lost ten tribes” of Israel, because even though the tribes had been dispersed, it is simply inaccurate and unhistorical to say that they had never heard the name of the Lord and never seen His glory. Again, Isaiah 63 identifies these people. In describing those who had desecrated the city and temple, i.e. the Babylonians, and the resultant fate of the people. Israel lamented: “We (Israel) have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled, Those who were never called by Your name (Isaiah 63:19)

It could never be said that the ten tribes, or the southern tribes, had never been ruled by Adonai. It could never be said that any of the tribes had never called on Him. This is describing true, pagan Gentiles, who would, per Isaiah 66, become the recipients of the message of God’s grace, glory and love.

Fourth, that evangelism takes place, as noted, after the Day of the Lord in flaming fire, in the judgment of all flesh. It takes place in other words, in the New Heaven and Earth. Do futurists posit the existence of evangelism in the New Creation? No! After all, per the futurist view, in the New Creation, there is no sin, no curse and no death. Nothing that would work iniquity and abomination can enter the New Creation. Thus, there is simply no need for or provision for, evangelism after the Day of the Lord. Yet, the futurist view is in direct, undeniable odds with what the text explicitly teaches.

It is crucial to remember what was established at the beginning of this article. The Great Day of God’s Wrath was coming on those who defiled the Temple, perverted its worship, placed all of their devotion on it, and cast the humble and obedient servants of the Lord out. That judgment was coming because “when I called, you did not answer.” So, Israel’s violent disobedience was going to lead to the judgment of the city and temple at the coming of the Lord in flaming fire, but out of that judgment would arise the New Heaven and Earth. Thus, as we have emphasized from the beginning of this series, that is an unbreakable bond between the eschatological promises made to Old Covenant Israel and the “final judgment” of Old Covenant Israel. The New Creation would flow from that judgment.

It should be more than clear, based on just the points laid out above, that Isaiah 66 did not predict an end of time, end of the Christian age coming of the Lord in flaming fire of judgment.

Now, to return to our point #2 above, and that is that in 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul is patently anticipating the coming of the Lord in flaming fire, in fulfillment of Isaiah 66. Let me express my argument like this:

In 2 Thessalonians 1:7f, Paul was anticipating the coming of the Lord in flaming fire in fulfillment of Isaiah 66.

Isaiah 66 predicted the coming of the Lord in flaming fire in judgment of the wicked in Israel who would persecute the righteous.

Therefore, since 2 Thessalonians 1 anticipated the fulfillment of Isaiah 66 it means that Paul was looking forward to the coming of the Lord in flaming fire in judgment of the wicked in Israel who were persecuting the righteous.

Paul was patently not looking into the far distant future, to some unknown generation of saints being persecuted by some unknown people. Again, see my book, In Flaming Fire, for an in-depth exegesis of 2 Thessalonians 1. This book proves conclusively that Paul was looking for the Lord’s coming in flaming fire against the Jews who were, when he wrote, persecuting the Thessalonians. That coming of the Lord in flaming fire took place, just as Isaiah 66 foretold, in the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70.

I am pretty sure that I don’t have to remind the reader that 2 Thessalonians 1 is a favorite of preachers who give impassioned sermons about the threat of the Lord’s coming in flaming fire if the audience contains those who have never obeyed the Gospel. I once used the text that way myself! Yet, hopefully the reader can see that Paul did not see Isaiah 66 as a prediction of the end of the world, the end of time, or the end of the Christian age, as the vast majority of preachers apply 2 Thessalonians. And since his Thessalonian epistle is the promise of the imminent fulfillment of Isaiah, that negates any application of 2 Thessalonians to a future cosmic conflagration. And here is what that means for our study of Old Testament Israel and New Testament Salvation.

Isaiah 66, along with chapter 65 are, as we have seen, foundational source prophecies for the New Testament doctrine of the New Heaven and Earth. Peter tells us that, John tells us that in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 10 & 22. But as I have demonstrated beyond any doubt both Isaiah 65 and 66 both posit the arrival of the New Creation as a direct result of, and flowing out of, the judgment of Old Covenant Israel, Jerusalem and the temple. This essentially provides positive proof that all NT eschatology is nothing but the reiteration of, and the expectation of, the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel. Thus, if those prophecies– all prophecy– is not fulfilled, then God’s covenant – the Old Covenant – with Israel remains valid and binding, and Old Covenant Israel remains God’s covenant people.