By Christina M Wilson
God Replies to Isaiah’s Prayer
God is not secretive. As far as human history is concerned, he has no classified documents, and he springs no surprises. People can be confident that God is God, because he announces his actions well in advance. Isaiah in chapters 63 through 64 prayed an ardent plea for God’s favorable return and blessing upon Israel, his collective people. Immediately, in chapter 65, God replies to Isaiah’s prayer of intercession. For anyone with ears to hear, his answer is not encouraging for the majority of the nation. He did not hide his heart. So, what did God say?
Summary of God’s Reply
God replies to Isaiah’s prayer with four statements.
1. He will reveal himself openly to Gentiles (Septuagint Isaiah 65:1).
2. He will reward those who disdain him with fruit befitting their evil ways (Septuagint Isaiah 65:2-7, 11-12).
3. He will spare the faithful remnant (Septuagint Isaiah 65:8-10).
4. He will call his servants by a new name (Septuagint Isaiah 65:15).
God Will Reveal Himself to Gentiles
LXE Isaiah 65:1 I became manifest to them that asked not for me; I was found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold, I am here, to a nation, who called not on my name.
ESV Isaiah 65:1 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.
Paul the Apostle is the best interpreter of Isaiah I know. His quotation of Septuagint Isaiah 65:1 appears embedded in a long discussion concerning the failure of Israel as a whole to receive (welcome) the earthly appearance of God’s Servant/King/Messiah in the flesh, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Romans 10:20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” (ESV)
Paul writes concerning the entire chapter of Isaiah 65 in Romans 9 through 11. In these chapters, Paul makes clear that salvation comes through God’s Servant Christ alone. And, he speaks clearly that God’s people are those who demonstrate faith in Christ. Ethnicity no longer matters. God’s mercy will extend to everyone of any ethnicity (Israelites included), who come to him through faith in his Servant, Jesus Christ. If any unbeliever of any ethnicity repents, they will be received by God and included in his mercy (Romans 11:30-32).
John the Apostle also clarifies that God receives those who believe on the Son. God no longer favors ethnicity.
John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Isaiah 65 Not Predominately About Gentiles
When God replies to Isaiah’s prayer, he announces one of the largest shifts in all human history in a single verse. Nevertheless, God’s presenting himself to Gentiles is not the focus of chapter 65. Isaiah as a whole gives much space to inclusion of Gentiles among God’s favored people. Chapter 65, however, is not where he does so (1). In chapter 65, God responds to Isaiah’s heartfelt intercessory prayer by opening up his own heart concerning his ancient people Israel.
1 Readers can find verses concerning Gentiles in Septuagint Isaiah 2:2; 11:10,12; 25:6-7; 42:1, 4, 6; 49:1, 6, 8, 22; 51:4-5; 52:15; 54:1-3; 55:4-5; 56:3-8; 59:19; 60:1-11, and 16.
…next time, Lord willing, God’s negative rewards