God was pleased to use a remnant from Israel as the beginning of His church, later adding in the elect from Gentile lands and forming them into one family. When He began building His church, He brought in a “nation” that was not previously called by His name.
The Lord’s experience with the people of Israel and Judah was heartbreaking. The details of their rebellion fill the pages of the Old Testament prophets and the accounts of Biblical history. Here in Isaiah 65 they are presented as participants in pagan rituals. God says that He will repay their “iniquities” and the sins of their fathers. The anger of the Almighty did not spring up in a day. He had been patient, and proceeded with warning after warning. One day the end would come.
The Lord is explicit here that this would not be such a completely new start so as to exclude all who were once in the Old Covenant community. He would not destroy all of the descendants of Jacob. He would have a chosen group of servants who would have a very important role in the future.
Think of how wonderfully this prophecy was fulfilled. First and foremost, Jesus was Jewish. All of the apostles were also Jews. In particular, the Apostle Paul was an accomplished Pharisee. His achievements as a part of the chosen people were once his pride, but now his boast was only in Christ.
Most of the Israelites would not be included in the group called “my servants.” God’s chosen ones would eat, drink, rejoice, and sing for joy, but many others would be hungry, thirsty, wailing, and ashamed. So many of the Old Covenant people would face the judgment of God, while the remnant that remained would be the beginning of a resurrection kingdom. This combined group of Jews and Gentiles would be given a new name, and the former troubles of the old age would be forgotten.
A perfect fulfillment of the Lord’s promises is described in Isaiah 65 that takes us past the centuries of church history. With His death and resurrection, Jesus has started something that will not fail. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. God will create a joyous New Jerusalem, and there will be no weeping in that city. The Lord who saved us with His blood is the God who will answer us before we even call. The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion and the ox will safely feed with one another.
The New Jerusalem will be a land beyond the sting of death and the grave. To gain entrance, we needed a man who had victory over the penalty that we deserved. Jesus defeated the curse by taking it upon His own body. This great man of the Old Covenant people became the cornerstone of the New Covenant church.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, Your patience is beyond our understanding. We know that You will repay iniquity. Our hope is in Christ and the cross, since Your justice has come upon Him there for us. Thank you for Your unchanging love for Your elect children. We will not forsake You. We will answer when You call and turn away from those things in which You do not delight. Feed us this day. Grant to us refreshing waters from above. Bless us, we pray. Call us by the name of Your Son. O God of Truth, make us glad in You today. May Your Jerusalem above be a cause of rejoicing forever. Bring about the fulfillment of all Your holy purposes. Give us hope for this eternal city as we face the sufferings of this world of death. Answer us in peace. We come to You in faith.