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THIS AGE AND THE AGE TO COME
Gentiles, Jews and Gospel
In Isaiah 65, you have a brilliant exposť of deep issues concerning Israel and the other nations, Jerusalem and its meaning.
First, you find that there is an utter repudiation of any concept of a distinctively Israel-centred emphasis, as to its former covenant. The servants of God will rejoice while Israel's plight will have grief. The contrast is rich, repeated, sensational.
Indeed, the Gentiles are to be approached in intensive force, for God will be found of those who had not sought for Him in a flow of amazing grace (Isaiah 65:1ff.).
Israel in its pollutions, "will leave your name for a curse to My chosen," Isaiah 65:15.
With this prelude done, we come to a new heaven and earth. It includes at this juncture marvellous health, security, privilege and fecundity, social stability and peace. "They shall not labour in vain or bring forth children for trouble," 65:23.
Indeed, "before they call, I will answer," 65:24. Wolf and lamb will abide securely.
As to Jerusalem, "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people," voice of weeping heard no more.
So we have a transformative situation, a bane to bane and a blessing to blessing, with the latter multiplied beyond ordinary nature, this being stressed as such. It would appear millenial. Isaiah 66 proceeds after this exposition, and its message is heavily in two dimensions. God will personally use His divine power to overcome the spiritually seedy and self-confident power-pushers of this world, to deliver His people. Those who taunted Israel, will be subject of taunt (cf. Micah 7, Isaiah 66:5). God has not forgotten either His people nor His words to them (as in Deuteronomy 32). Then on the spiritual side as such, there will be a unity and a unison between converted Jew and converted Gentile, one Gospel, one Lord, one glory.
As so often, Israel is shown in the glory of the Gospel at last, an exponent that comes into its realm in one vast and sudden action, fulfilling smaller beginnings, such as with the apostles (Zechariah 12:10ff.), and its spiritual characteristics in this will be the same as for other peoples, when members of their races come (Galatians 3:28).
Jerusalem will be as in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4, a vast expression of the Lord of longsuffering whose death and resurrection there make it a central fixture at that time, in expositing the singularity, the sovereignty, the sufficiency of our one Lord and God, one Saviour, but as in Isaiah 65, it will not be a testimony to the greatness of Israeli culture. It is then all of grace, the very Age the testimony that works of man, of flesh achieve nothing; but the work of grace prevails both in power and in proposition.
What of the criterion, "before they call, I will answer," a magnificence of kindness and concern ? It applies then, but does it apply now ? It attests the vigorous willingness of the Lord and His desire for those who in due spirit and grace would move mountains now (Mark 11:23), which may certainly occur, and to walk humbly and closely with their God now, and this feature is by no means alien. Yet it is for that specified Age the specialty, and as to this one, while such things certainly accrue in spirit and often in procedure, it is still an Age of test, testimony by suffering, filling up what remains of the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:23ff.), It proceeds not least in attestation of Him through suffering and such an immediacy of answer is not the operational routine. We await this, as we await Him (Acts 1:7ff.).
While we await His return, there is yet much more to be accomplished by more means by many (cf. Revelation 6:11, I Corinthians 4:7-12, II Corinthians 4:7-15).