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Lowell Brueckner

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About Gentile and Jewish Times


58. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 65

The Times of the Gentiles

Paul quoted Moses, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry” (Ro.10:19 from Dt.32:21). He then turns to Isaiah: “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” (Ro.10:20-21 from Is.65:1-2).

Paul exalted his ministry among the Gentiles by quoting the Old Testament. The prophets from the early history of Israel predicted the Times of the Gentiles, the days of the New Testament, when the gospel would be preached to all kindred, nation, tongue and tribe around the world. Even in the Old Testament, God frequently showed His love for the people outside of Israel.

Isaiah is pointing to a very definite time in the history of the Jews, when the clock of their future will stop. I am writing of the future predicted by the angel, Gabriel, to Daniel, concerning his people: “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city” (Dan.9:24). That is seventy sevens (weeks meaning literally and better translated sevens) or seventy weeks of years, each week, seven years in length. He is speaking of a period of 490 years, beginning with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. This time came to a halt after 483 years, when the Jews crucified their Messiah. From that time, as the book of Acts testifies in detail, God began a sovereign work among non-Jewish people, who are not a nation, foolish nation, who did not seek me, who did not ask for me.

Paul used the type of a natural olive tree and its roots in Romans 11:24 to represent Israel and taught that God grafted these non-Jews into it to provoke the Jews to jealousy, as Moses predicted. In Ephesians 2:12, Paul said that the Gentiles were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Back in Romans 9:25, he quotes Hosea 2:23, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people’, and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved’.”

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” exclaims Paul at the end of Romans 11. He has devised an ancient plan, in which, “God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (Ro.11:32). As to the future of the Jew, Paul asked, “Has God rejected his people?” and answers his own question, “By no means!” (Ro.11:1). “If you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature… how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Ro.11:24). The Time of the Gentiles will be fulfilled (Ro.11:25) and the Jewish clock will begin to tick again for the final seven years.  He then concludes, “All Israel will be saved…” (Ro.11:26).

Evil matures in Israel

The Holy Spirit inspires Isaiah to delve into these divine thoughts, as Moses and Hosea did, and finally Paul saw the whole picture clearly. Isaiah deemed his nation obstinate “all the day… in their own devices”, until their rebellion reaches its maturity at the time of Christ. Their devices were inserted into their religion, “sacrificing in gardens”, rather than in the Jerusalem temple, as the Lord had commanded. They made ‘offerings on bricks”, a sacrilege going back to their slavery in Egypt, when they were forced to help build Pharaoh’s empire with bricks. Bricks constructed the designs of fallen man from the time of the Tower of Babel (v.3).

The practices of verse 4 are not only ungodly in nature, but hint of satanic witchcraft, in devotion to God’s ancient enemy. They “sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places”, besides eating forbidden pork and abominable meat. Worse yet, they resorted to an exclusive hypocrisy… “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you”, that reached its apex in the Phariseeism of Jesus’ time. As smoke in the nostrils, they were an irritation to God, as He manifested through His Son (v.5).

It is no wonder that Jesus challenged their beliefs and practices, as Isaiah predicted that He would: “It is written before me: ‘I will not keep silent, but I will repay…’” (v.6). Jesus also brought up the principle given in verse 7, repaying “both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together”. He put it this way to the scribes and Pharisees: “Hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers” (Mt.23:29-32). Verse 7 also refers to an evil practice, which became part of their culture… the sacrifices and offerings on the high places.

The remnant

From chapter 1, Isaiah speaks of a remnant and this book is particularly addressed to them. “The new wine is found in the cluster, and they say, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it’” (v.8). The Lord recognizes their presence and refrains from treading upon all the grapes for their sake. Paul showed that they existed in Israel in the time, when Elijah thought that he alone truly served God: “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal” (Ro.11:4). Still they existed in Paul’s day: “So to at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Ro.11:5).  

He saves the remnant to bring forth a future generation, who will dwell in and possess the land (v.9): “Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me” (v.10). In contrast to them are the majority who forsake and forget the Lord. Forgetfulness in Scripture deals with a state, in which people ignore the things of God and turn to men and devils, adapting their vocabulary to include them. In verse 11, the terms are Fortune and Destiny, rather than divine Blessing and Providence or Sovereignty. You notice that they are capitalized, therefore given proper names. They are the names of false gods, which we must always consider to be demons. The Septuagint translates, “Preparing a table for the demon, and filling up, or pouring out, a libation to fortune.”

Divine justice delivers a sentence that fits the crime: “I will destine you to the sword”. Because they did not pay attention to the Lord’s voice, their will and deeds went in the opposite direction. They displeased Him and did evil (v.12). According to the division made in the choices of the people, so they would be divided in judgment: “My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart and shall wail for breaking of spirit” (v.13-14).

In the end times, Zechariah reveals that two-thirds of the Jews will ultimately be destroyed and one-third would be purified. An angel showed Daniel: “Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand” (Dan.12:10). One will be cursed and the other blessed (v.15).

All Israel will be saved

Ultimately, truth prevails: “He who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth.” I hope that we can see, through prophecy and in the Word of God, in general, the absolute prominence of truth. God is the God of truth and the gospel teaches us that Jesus Himself said that He is the truth. Those who love truth will come to the light and listen to Christ’s voice. Those who do not love truth, will be sent strong delusion by God Himself, so that they will be deceived and destroyed. God’s love for truth exceeds His love for mankind.

Now prophecy carries us into the age of bliss… the Millennium and on to the new heavens and the new earth. They come together, largely, by Isaiah’s pen, as do the First and Second Advent of Christ. This blend is characteristic of all prophecy, as we have maintained in a previous chapter, but, I think we have learned that Isaiah, in particular, will quite suddenly turn from one time to another. The New Testament book of Revelation, on the other hand, makes a clear separation between these two periods.

Isaiah takes us into eternity: “The former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes” (v.16). Sins are forgiven, forgotten and hidden in the depths of the sea. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev.21:4). Isaiah continues: “I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (v.17). Apparently, in eternity, the mind will be wiped clean of all that was negative in time.

Before the new earth comes into play, there will be a thousand years of bliss on this earth and Isaiah gives us an excellent description. Verses 18 and 19 would fit, in either case, the Millennial Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, or both. Gladness and rejoicing begins in the earthly reign of righteousness and continues forever. We will only note that God is the God of eternal joy: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps.16:11). Her people are created for gladness, so when they celebrated in Nehemiah’s day, he warned them: “This day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the lord is your strength” (Neh.8:10). Holiness is joy and Nehemiah knew that it was not right to be grieved in the presence of royalty (see Neh.2:2).

There will be longevity of life in the Millennium. The curse will be reversed, but not removed. There will still be death, but as it states in verse 20, “the young man shall die a hundred years old.” A man will still be considered young on his 100th birthday. Life’s labors will be joyful and profitable. What a man builds will not be taken away by another and what he plants will not be reaped by another. “My chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (v.21-22).

Family life will be blessed: “They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them” (v.23). Private prayer and prayer meetings will still be a priority in the Millennium. They also will be times of rejoicing and communion with God and will reach a wonderful apex with instantaneous response: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (v.24).

For all of you, who, like me, are animal lovers, the Millennium will offer pleasure, far beyond the scenes of compatibility between natural enemies, which we sometimes view on the internet. Think about this: “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the Lord” (v.25). All animals and men will be vegetarians. Enemies will become friends under the rule of Jesus Christ and society will be loving and kind.

These are the written promises of God, the Holy Spirit, defining the day that we should be awaiting with great anticipation. I think, we would not be doing wrong, if we would contemplate many other unwritten pleasures, totally in concord with Scripture, which will logically grace this time. We have only been given an outline and many things can be reasonably added. So think on these things and spend your life in preparation for another, better world!  


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