This is a Bible study on Isaiah 65:1-25.

6 pages.

Isaiah 65:1-25 - Why We Must Prepare to Meet Our God

Read Isaiah 65:1-25.


What would you do if you knew that you had only one day left to live? That question was once posed to 625 German students. A number of them responded by saying that they would spend their last 24 hours drinking, taking drugs, and chasing girls.1 That is not a good way to spend your last day before being ushered into the presence of your God and Judge.

Through the Old Testament prophet Amos, the LORD gives the exhortation, “Prepare to meet your God.” This same message can be understood to be the theme of Isaiah 65. As we study this passage, let us consider Three Reasons Why We Must Prepare to Meet Our God.

We Must Prepare to Meet Our God, Because We will have an Inevitable Encounter with Him🔗

Verse one is describing an unexpected, but inevitable, encounter with God: “I have revealed myself to those who did not ask [for me]; I caused myself to be found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call upon my name, I said, Here I am! Here I am!” The LORD has granted an audience to a people who did not request an audience with Him. The LORD suddenly revealed Himself to a people who were not looking for Him. The LORD presented Himself to a people who were not calling upon Him.

God suddenly and inescapably reveals Himself to a thoroughly unresponsive people, as He indicates in verses 1b-2, “All day long I have held out my hands [as a loving father] to a rebellious people.” Here are a people who “walk in a way that is not good, following their own thoughts;” they will not listen to the Word of God, they stubbornly walk in the way that is appealing to them and appears to them to be wise and profitable.

The LORD has suddenly and unexpectedly revealed Himself to “a people who provoke [him] to [his] face continually, offering [pagan] sacrifices in gardens and burning incense upon [altars made of] of bricks. 4[A people] who sit among the graves and spend the night in caves, who eat the meat of pigs, and the broth of unclean meat is in their pots” (vs. 3-4). The LORD has continuously demonstrated His lovingkindness, patience, and fatherly concern for these people; but they constantly provoke Him with their idolatry.

The LORD goes on to say that He has now revealed Himself to a people that were characterized by an incredible self-righteousness: “[They are a people] who say, ‘Stay away, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’” These people distanced themselves and stood aloof from others because they considered themselves to be more holy than their neighbors.

How does God describe such people? He declares, “These [people] are like smoke in my nostrils, produced by a fire that burns all day long” (vs. 5b); they are a great source of grief and irritation to Him on a continual, day-by-day basis. According to verses 6-7, what will God do? First, we are informed that “their conduct has been recorded in my presence;” i.e. their conduct is inscribed in writing before the LORD, it is not dismissed or forgotten, it has been recorded as a testimony against them. Then the LORD informs us, “I will not remain silent.” The LORD will not remain passive forever and let the sinful, insolent conduct of the people pass by without comment and without judgment. On the contrary, He “will pay them what is just; indeed, I will deliver their recompense into their bosom; 7both for your own iniquities as well as for the iniquities of your fathers, declares the LORD.” The sins of one generation have been passed on to the next; whereas formerly the LORD abstained from bringing about a totally devastating act of judgment upon the nation, giving the people warning and time to repent, He will now abstain no longer. “Therefore, I will first measure their recompense into their bosom;” because there has been persistence in sin instead of repentance, now, as a matter of first priority, the LORD will repay judgment into the very bosom of these people.

The Scriptures assure us that each one of us shall finally and inevitably stand before God when He reveals Himself to us face to face: we, too, will each have an inevitable encounter with the LORD God.

As Revelation 1:7 testifies, “Behold, he comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see him.” On that great day when we stand before the LORD our God nothing shall be hidden, everything shall be exposed to the light of His truth, as the writer to the Hebrews declares, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). On that great day every false confidence will perish before the awesome reality of God’s presence.

The false confidence that God entertains an attitude of indifference and tolerance with regard to the issues of morality shall perish, note Psalm 50:16-21, the wicked, God says... 17You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. 18When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. 19You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. 20You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. 21These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.

The false confidence that the passage of millenniums refutes the teaching that there shall be a final day of judgment shall perish, note 2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-10,

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, 'Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of the creation.' 8But do not forget this one thing, beloved: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day ... 9The Lord is not negligent in keeping his promise...He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

Let us prepare to meet our God, because we shall have an inevitable encounter with Him: “it is appointed for men once to die, and after this [comes] judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

We Must Prepare to Meet Our God, Because He will Make a Separation Between the Devout and the Hypocritical🔗

Using the illustration of harvesting grapes from the vineyard, the LORD shows us the distinction He makes between those who are spiritually alive and fruitful and those who are not: ”This is what the LORD says, As when juice is [still] found in a cluster [of grapes], and men say, Do not destroy it, for there is [still some] good in it, so will I do for the sake of my servants, so that I will not destroy them all” (vs. 8). When the harvesters come upon a juicy cluster of grapes in the midst of clusters that have rotted or are shriveled, they spare that good cluster before chopping down the unproductive vine. Let us carefully consider such passages as the following, which emphasize the LORD’s demand for spiritual fruit:

Jesus testifies,

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 2He removes every branch in me that does not bear fruit. But he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it may bear more fruit. Jn. 15:1-2

...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23humility, self-control. Gal. 5:22-23a

The Apostle Paul prays that believers will be “filled with the fruit of righteousness, which is through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil. 1:11)

Verse ten projects us into the future, describing the renewed land and those who will inherit it: “Sharon will become a pasture for flocks and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds; [this will be] for my people who seek me.” From the Plain of Sharon on the west to the valley of Achor on the east, the land to be inherited shall be filled with peace and prosperity; here is a picture of the new creation employing Old Testament geographical locations. The inheritors are defined as “my people who seek me;” in contrast to the people described in verse one, those who are truly God’s people seek Him and serve Him.

As verses 11-12 declare, a far different future is in store for those who “forsake the LORD” and “forget [his] holy mountain;” that is to say, those who neglect the worship of the LORD their God and who abandon the faith:

But as for you who forsake the LORD, you who forget my holy mountain, you who prepare a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, 12I will destine you for the sword and you shall all succumb to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, and when I spoke, you did not listen. On the contrary, you did what was evil in my sight, and chose those things in which I take no delight.

Such people are described as preparing a banquet table for Fortune and Destiny; they have given themselves over to pagan superstition and idolatry and to the pursuit of hedonism. The LORD declares to them, “I will destine you for the sword;” the sword of God’s judgment and punishment, in this case by means of a foreign invader. The reason for the judgment is stated in these terms: there was no responsiveness to the LORD when He called; on the contrary, there was the pursuit of wickedness and all that is abominable to Him (vs. 12b).

In verses 13-15 the LORD Himself reveals the respective fate and rewards of those whom He identifies as “my servants” in distinction to those whom, back in verse two, He has identified as “a rebellious people.” He declares, “my servants shall eat,” (they shall be provided for and be satisfied); “but you will be hungry,” (those who have lived for themselves and in opposition to the LORD shall at the end be denied His blessing and given over to His judgment). In verses 13b-14 He goes on to assert, “My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. 14My servants will sing with a joyful heart, but you will cry out with a sorrowful heart and will wail with a broken spirit.” The servants of the LORD shall experience the joy of the divine promises being fulfilled, the joy of discovering that their investment in Christ reaps eternal dividends of blessing; but shame and suffering shall be the consequence of bad, ungodly life choices, the consequences that await those who have lived for themselves instead of for their LORD and God. In conjunction with these verses of Isaiah 65 we should note our Lord’s teaching as recorded in Luke 6:20-26,

Looking at his disciples, he said, Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven; for that is how their fathers treated the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

In this passage of Luke 6:20-26, our Lord Jesus is bringing out in emphatic and absolute terms the change of condition that shall occur between those who serve God and those who live for the world. Oftentimes in this present world the disciples of Christ are deprived of material blessings and the enjoyment of such things because of their commitment to Christ; while those who experience such material riches have gained them at the expense of their integrity and in violation of the moral law.

The contrast is between those who have invested their lives in Christ and the kingdom of God and those who have invested in themselves and this world. Whereas in the short run, (i.e. life in this present world), a life invested in Christ may not appear to be paying dividends, it may not appear to be worth it, but when one takes into consideration the long-term perspective of eternity, it proves to be well worth it!

Let us prepare to meet our God, because He does make a distinction and separation between the devout and the hypocritical:

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17'They will be mine,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.' Mal. 3:16-18

We Must Prepare to Meet Our God, Because Only His Servants Will Inherit the New Creation🔗

In verse seventeen the LORD declares, “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” What is coming is nothing less than a new creation—a new creation that shall completely replace the present creation, replacing even the memory of this creation. It will prove to be a creation filled with glories so great that we will never be tempted to even consider comparing them to the blessings experienced in this present world.

In verses 18-25 the life and blessing of the new creation are described in terms of this present creation that are familiar and meaningful to us—especially meaningful to the Old Testament people of God. As we are projected into the future and made to stand at the threshold of the new creation, the LORD extends to His people the invitation and issues the command: “be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create.” The LORD promises that He Himself is going to rejoice with us and we are going to be a source of joy to Him, and He pledges that all sorrow will be left behind forever: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people. No longer shall there be heard in [Jerusalem] the sound of weeping and the sound of crying” (vs. 19).

The assurance that there will be no infant mortality nor premature death, (he who fails to reach one hundred years of age will be considered to be accursed), is conveying the promise of eternal life (vs. 20). Long life in the Promised Land of Canaan was one of the covenantal blessings (cf. Ex. 20:12). Thus, the imagery of extraordinarily long life is graphically used to depict the blessing of eternal life in God’s new creation. By means of the imagery of building houses and living in them, planting vineyards and enjoying their fruit, there is conveyed the blessing of enjoying the fruit of our labor free from futility and oppression (vs. 21-23). Verse twenty-four is communicating the blessing of close, instantaneous fellowship with the LORD our God: “Before they call, I will answer.” In verse twenty-five there is described the blessing of perfect peace prevailing throughout God’s new creation: “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; but dust shall be the serpent’s food. They will neither hurt nor devour [one another] on all my holy mountain, declares the LORD.” Note: In the midst of this description of peaceful tranquility in the new creation, there also appears a reference to the divine curse that shall be enacted against the devil: “dust shall be the serpent’s food.” Yet another reminder that the LORD makes a final and eternal distinction between those who serve Him and those who do not.

Let us prepare to meet our God, because those who serve Him shall inherit His new creation.


So very many people are living their lives totally absorbed with gaining riches and success in this present world, without any preparation for their encounter with God. Many other people live their lives like those young German students, absorbed in the pursuit and experience of the pleasures of this present world, without any preparation for their encounter with God. But the message of Isaiah 65 is this: Be prepared to meet your God.

How do you prepare yourself for that awesome encounter? Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and take refuge in Him if you have never done so. Return to Christ if you have strayed away from Him. Remain in Christ and, by His grace, continue to be faithful to Him.

Discussion Questions🔗

  1. What incredible grace has the LORD shown to the covenant nation? See Isa. 65:1-2. Do you appreciate the grace the LORD has shown you (cf. Lk. 19:10); how have you responded to it?

I have revealed myself to those who did not ask [for me]; I caused myself to be found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call upon my name, I said, Here I am! Here I am! 2All day long I have held out my hands to a rebellious people, [a people] who walk in a way that is not good, following their own thoughts. Isa. 65:1-2

...the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Lk. 19:10

  1. What incredible contradiction is evidenced in the lives of these people? Cp. Isa. 65:3 with 65:5; note Prov. 30:12. What could cause a people to live such an ungodly life and yet entertain such a high view of themselves? Cp. Isa. 57:8a with Deut. 6:6, 9; note Rom. 3:18. Like these people, do you conceal God’s commandments from your sight, or are you consciously living your life in God’s presence? Note Psl. 16:8,

A people who provoke me to my face continually, offering [pagan] sacrifices in gardens and burning incense upon [altars made] of bricks... 5[They are a people] who say, Stay away, do not come near me, for I am holier than you! These [people] are like smoke in my nostrils, produced by afire that burns all day long.Isa. 65:3, 5

[There is] a generation [that is] pure in their own eyes; [yet] it is not washed from its filthiness. Prov. 30:12

And you have hung my memorial plaques behind the doors and the doorposts; for you have uncovered yourself to lovers other than me... Isa. 57:8a

And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart... 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:6, 9

There is no fear of God before their eyes. Rom. 3:18

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved.Psl. 16:8

  1. What does the LORD want us to know about these people and what He will do with regard to them? See Isa. 65:6. What does the LORD warn those who violate His commandments, especially those who do so while identifying themselves as His covenant people? See Psl. 50:16-17, 21. As Christians, what are we called to do? See 2 Tim. 2:19b,

See, [their conduct] has been recorded in my presence; [therefore], I will not remain silent, but will pay them what is just; indeed, I will [deliver their] recompense into their bosom... Isa. 65:6

16But to the wicked, God says, What [right] have you to declare my statutes, or take my covenant in your mouth, 17seeing you hate instruction and cast my words behind you? ...21These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like yourself. But I will reprove you, and set them in order before your eyes. Psl. 50:16-17, 21

The LORD will hold such people accountable for their unfaithfulness to His covenant.

...Let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.2 Tim. 2:19b

  1. What distinct and diverse destinies has the LORD ordained for those who serve Him in comparison to those who do not? See Isa. 65:13-14. How does the Lord Jesus reinforce these promises for us who have put our trust in Him as our Savior and seek to serve Him as our Lord? See Lk. 6:20-23,

Therefore, this is what the Lord GOD says, My servants will eat, but you will be hungry. My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. 14My servants will sing with a joyful heart, but you will cry out with a sorrowful heart and will wail with a broken spirit. Isa. 65:13-14

Then [Jesus] lifted up his eyes toward his disciples, and said, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy; for, indeed, your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. Lk. 6:20-23

  1. What feature of life in the new creation is especially emphasized in Isaiah 65:18-19a? What assurance does our Lord Jesus give us in John 16:21-22? How may we as Christians even now experience a measure of this joy? See 1 Pet. 1:8, glad and rejoice forever in what I will create; for I will create Jerusalem [to be] a [place of] rejoicing and her people to experience joy. 19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people. No longer shall there be heard in [Jerusalem] the sound of weeping and the sound of crying. Isa. 65:18-19

When a woman gives birth to a child she has pain, because her hour [of delivery] has come. But when the child is delivered, she no longer remembers the anguish; because of the joy that a child has been brought into the world. 22So it is that you will now have grief; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. Jn. 16:21-22

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, by believing in him you greatly rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and glorious... 1 Pet. 1:8


  1. ^ Our Daily Bread, (Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries), 4/19/93.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.