Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“My servants will eat,
but you will starve.
My servants will drink,
but you will be thirsty.
My servants will rejoice,
but you will be sad and ashamed.
My servants will sing for joy,
but you will cry in sorrow and despair.
Your name will be a curse word among my people,
for the Sovereign LORD will destroy you
and will call his true servants by another name.
All who invoke a blessing or take an oath
will do so by the God of truth.
For I will put aside my anger
and forget the evil of earlier days.
“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
Her people will be a source of joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
will be heard in it no more. (Isaiah 65:13-19)

When your parents grounded you, was it forever? Of course not. Following the Babylonian captivity, God intended to restore his people to their land. God made a contrast between those who had repented and those who had not: the servants of God and those who had rejected God. For the people of Israel, one of the most important things they had was their name, that is, their reputation. By a “new name” God meant that they would get a new start. They could get a new reputation. Where before, his people had fallen into disrepute by forsaking Yahweh and worshipping other gods, now they would be faithful to him.

Also signifying the fresh start is the imagery of a “new heavens and a new earth,” which in context is not speaking of the eternal kingdom of God when Jesus returns, but rather of their renewed state after their captivity: think of how you feel when you’re finally well after an illness, or how the world seems when you were first in love. That is the sense God is imparting to his people: their hard service is over. They get to come home. Life will be good again.

The imagery reflected the promises God laid out in his original covenant or treaty with Israel that he gave them back during the time of Moses. Just as God had promised judgment and exile for their disobedience, so he gave them lavish promises for obedience: long life, no miscarriages, and abundant crops. Discipline is never forever, because the discipline of God always works. You’ll have a harvest of righteousness as a result of it.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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