I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.
False grounds of superiority in holiness. The disposition to arrogate the dignity of holiness,—in other words, of religious worth and excellence,—has never become extinct among men, nor the quite consistent disposition to turn it to the use of pride. We may specify a few of the many grounds of pretension on which this assumption of holiness sustains itself, and takes authority for its pride of comparison with other men.
I. In some instances an assumption of superior holiness has been made upon the ground of belonging to a certain division or class of mankind, a class having its distinction in the circumstances of descent and nativity, or in some artificial constitution of society.
II. Again, in many periods and places men have reputed themselves holy on the ground of a punctilious observance of religious forms and ceremonies, whether of Divine appointment or human invention.
III. Another ground of such assumption and pride as the text expresses, is general rectitude of practical conduct, separate from the true religious principle of moral excellence.
IV. The pride of self-estimation for goodness or holiness is apt to be betrayed by persons who have preserved a character substantially free from reproach, against those who have, in some known instance, fallen into great sin.
V. There is such a thing as a factitious zeal in the active service of religion, and that forms a ground of high pretension.
VI. There are a number of persons among professing Christians whose minds are almost ever dwelling on certain high points of doctrine, sought chiefly in the book of God's eternal decrees. And it is on these doctrines that they found, in some manner, an absolute assurance of their being in Christ, in the Divine favour, children of God, and therefore as sure of heaven as if they were there. They can look with pride, not with pious gratitude, on those who are suffering doubts and solicitude respecting their state toward God and a future world.
VII. We may name, lastly, as one of the things made a ground of pretension and pride,—the experience of elated, ardent, enthusiastic feelings in some semblance of connection with religion, but not really of its genuine inspiration.
J. Foster, Lectures, 1st series, p. 180.
Reference: Isaiah 65:5.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv., No. 1497.
Isaiah 65:8Here we have four lessons taught us by a bunch of grapes.
I. That great good may be stored in little things. A bunch of grapes is a little thing, and yet there is a blessing in it. With a heart given to Jesus, a child is a sun which cannot but shine, a fountain which cannot but send out streams, a flower which cannot but fill the air with sweetness.
II. God alone puts the blessing into little things. In this He displays: (1) His wisdom; (2) His omnipotence; (3) His condescension and compassion.
III. Little things are to be spared for this blessing in them. There are plenty of little things which you are apt to despise because they are little, and yet, destroy them not, says God, for a blessing is in them. (1) Your vows and resolutions; (2) your principles; (3) your habits; (4) your character; (5) your friendships; (6) your interest in the heathen.
IV. If the blessing is lacking in them they will be undone for ever. "Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it." As if it were said, If there were no blessing in it, then it might be destroyed. It is the blessing which delivers. If there is no blessing in us, we are doomed. The unprofitable servant hid his talent in the napkin, but he could not hide himself from his master's indignation.
J. Bolton, Family Treasury, Jan. 1863, p.111.
References: Isaiah 65:8.—Outline Sermons to Children, p. 104. Isaiah 65:11.—F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 321. Isaiah 65:19.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 236. Isaiah 65:20.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 341.
Isaiah 65:24I. Consider how great degrees of love and anxiety for us are expressed in these few words. The Almighty Lord of heaven and earth represents Himself as watching with anxiety the hearts and consciences of us His creatures, His sinful creatures; as listening after any, the least, expression of penitence, so it be sincere; as having joy in any expressions of returning love in the cold and hardened heart. When we reflect on this, when we consider what forbearance and parental anxiety the great God of heaven shows for us, our hearts must indeed be hardened, our natural affections deadened by long intercourse with a cruel, deceitful world, if we feel not at least some desire to be worthy to be called the sons of so kind, so tender, so good a Father.
II. The question, then, which it concerns us to put impartially to our consciences is, Whether we do habitually endeavour to pray? Whether, in the midst of the daily cares and business of life, our minds habitually ascend to our God and Saviour, and with Him continually dwell; whether our desires, hopes, and wishes are in the right direction, namely, towards God and heaven and heavenly things; whether we habitually express these our feelings and affection in such ways as our heavenly Father has directed and sanctioned, namely, by the practice of deliberate, earnest, importunate prayer.
III. If we will not look to God as our Father, what other hope or dependence can we be trusting to? Our having a good character in the world for morality or religion will avail us nothing; our thinking favourably of ourselves will avail us nothing; our occasional regard to good forms, or occasional indulgence of seeming religious feelings, will avail us nothing. If we do not love and adore and devote ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, we are surely not in the safe way to salvation; and without leading a life of prayer, how can we flatter ourselves that we love our God?
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. x., p. 208.
References: Isaiah 65:24.—Preacher's Monthly, vol.i.,p. 34. Isaiah 66:1, Isaiah 66:2.—E. Roberts, Penny Pulpit, No. 3504; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1083. Isaiah 66:5.—S. Cox, Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 53; J. B. Heard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 225. Isaiah 66:8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 1009.
I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;
Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.
Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,
Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.
Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.
And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.
But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.
Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:
Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name:
That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.