I love to read the Message version of the Bible. Not for study, nor for scripture memory. But for its melodic prose. Some chapters, to me, become devotionals and grist for meditation. Isaish 65 is one of those. See if you agree.
Isaiah 65 – The People Who Bothered to Reach Out to God
65 1-7 “I’ve made myself available
to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
a potluck religious stew.
They spend the night in tombs
to get messages from the dead,
Eat forbidden foods
and drink a witch’s brew of potions and charms.
They say, ‘Keep your distance.
Don’t touch me. I’m holier than thou.’
These people gag me.
I can’t stand their stench.
Look at this! Their sins are all written out—
I have the list before me.
I’m not putting up with this any longer.
I’ll pay them the wages
They have coming for their sins.
And for the sins of their parents lumped in,
a bonus.” God says so.
“Because they’ve practiced their blasphemous worship,
mocking me at their hillside shrines,
I’ll let loose the consequences
and pay them in full for their actions.”
8-10 God’s Message:
“But just as one bad apple doesn’t ruin the whole bushel,
there are still plenty of good apples left.
So I’ll preserve those in Israel who obey me.
I won’t destroy the whole nation.
I’ll bring out my true children from Jacob
and the heirs of my mountains from Judah.
My chosen will inherit the land,
my servants will move in.
The lush valley of Sharon in the west
will be a pasture for flocks,
And in the east, the valley of Achor,
a place for herds to graze.
These will be for the people
who bothered to reach out to me, who wanted me in their lives,
who actually bothered to look for me.
11-12 “But you who abandon me, your God,
who forget the holy mountains,
Who hold dinners for Lady Luck
and throw cocktail parties for Sir Fate,
Well, you asked for it. Fate it will be:
your destiny, Death.
For when I invited you, you ignored me;
when I spoke to you, you brushed me off.
You did the very things I exposed as evil;
you chose what I hate.”
13-16 Therefore, this is the Message from the Master, God:
“My servants will eat,
and you’ll go hungry;
My servants will drink,
and you’ll go thirsty;
My servants will rejoice,
and you’ll hang your heads.
My servants will laugh from full hearts,
and you’ll cry out heartbroken,
yes, wail from crushed spirits.
Your legacy to my chosen
will be your name reduced to a cussword.
I, God, will put you to death
and give a new name to my servants.
Then whoever prays a blessing in the land
will use my faithful name for the blessing,
And whoever takes an oath in the land
will use my faithful name for the oath,
Because the earlier troubles are gone and forgotten,
banished far from my sight.
New Heavens and a New Earth
17-25 “Pay close attention now:
I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain
are things of the past, to be forgotten.
Look ahead with joy.
Anticipate what I’m creating:
I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy,
create my people as pure delight.
I’ll take joy in Jerusalem,
take delight in my people:
No more sounds of weeping in the city,
no cries of anguish;
No more babies dying in the cradle,
or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime;
One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal—
anything less will seem like a cheat.
They’ll build houses
and move in.
They’ll plant fields
and eat what they grow.
No more building a house
that some outsider takes over,
No more planting fields
that some enemy confiscates,
For my people will be as long-lived as trees,
my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work.
They won’t work and have nothing come of it,
they won’t have children snatched out from under them.
For they themselves are plantings blessed by God,
with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed.
Before they call out, I’ll answer.
Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard.
Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow,
lion and ox eat straw from the same trough,
but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt!
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
anywhere on my Holy Mountain,” says God.
Even though we falter time and time again, though we sin and turn our backs on Him, our Almighty God promises us a beautiful eternity sharing His love forever.