New Heavens and a New Earth (Isaiah 65:17 – 25)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 65:17 – 25

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1. Who is the oldest person you have ever known? What insight into life did you pick up from him or her?

2. As a child, how did you picture what heaven must be like?

3. What emotion will typify the relationship of the restored people to God? Of God to them? What accounts for this new state of affairs?

4. What will life be like when the exiles are freed? What is the reality that lies behind each figure of speech?

5. What promises, echoed elsewhere in Isaiah, are summed up in this section (see Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 11:6 – 9; Isaiah 14:1; Isaiah 30:19; Isaiah 32:18)?

6. HOw does the account of the creation and fall figure as background to this passage? What do we learn here about God’s purposes and plans?

7. How does this new creation come into being for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)? What will be the impact of this truth on our lifestyle (see 2 Peter 3:11 – 13)? What does this vision ultimately mean to us (see Revelation 21:1 – 5)?

8. Which of these New Testament applications of this heavenly vision especially strikes you now? Why?

9. Try to picture your life without any of the causes or results of grief, sin and pain. What would that free you to do? How might this vision of what God will bring about affect the way you deal with the struggles you face now?

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Judgment and Salvation (Isaiah 65:1 – 16)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 65:1 – 16

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1. Have you had a cherished possession that was broken, lost or stolen? How did you feel? How would you have felt if you had given it away?

2. When you were a child playing hide-n-seek, did you prefer being the hider or the seeker? Where was your favorite hiding place?

3. This section is God’s reply to the prayer in chapter 64. What has been God’s frustration in His relationship with Israel? How would He answer the questions of the people in chapter 64:11 and 12?

4. Verses 3 – 5 and 11 depict practices associated with idolatry. How does God react to these practices? Why did judgment have to come upon Israel (verses 1 – 5)?

5. Although their sin of idolatry is the focus here, what other sins have led up to judgment (see Isaiah 56:9 – 12; Isaiah 58:3, 4; Isaiah 59:3, 4)? How might these sins all stem from the practice of idolatry?

6. Compare Isaiah 65:8 – 12 with Isaiah 10:20 – 23. What do they have in common? How is the emphasis of each different? What promises are here for those who have not followed the way of idolatry?

7. What do the contrasts in verses 13 – 16 show about the quality of life God intends for His people (compare Luke 6:20 – 26)? What will happen to those who have placed their hope in other gods?

8. When have you been so caught up with chasing after modern “idols” that you have been unable to hear God calling you? What did it take for Him to finally break through?

9. What qualities mark the people who receive the curses pronounced by Isaiah? Where do you see that in evidence today? Or will this only be manifested in the distant future? Why do you think so?

10. How can the promises of verses 13 – 16 be of help when you feel spiritually hungry, thirsty and ashamed?

11. In terms of “hide and seek”, do you see God in your own life as more the hider or the seeker? Is there any area in your life today where God is holding out His hands (verse 2) or calling “Here I am” (verse 1)? How will you respond?

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Praise and Prayer (Isaiah 63:7 – 64:12)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 63:7 – 64:12

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1. What are the three most common emotions you feel when you come to God in prayer?

2. When you were a teenager, did you ever get in trouble trying to rebel against your parents’ authority? Describe the situation, the circumstances and the outcome.

3. In reference to Question #2, if you could have switched roles and been the parent, how would you have responded to this teenage rebellion?

4. This long prayer sums up the desires of Isaiah as he anticipates the salvation God has promised. What things might the prophet be recalling as he considers “the many good things God has done for the house of Israel” (Isaiah 63:7 – 9)? What do these verses express about God’s relationship to Israel?

5. What might the prophet mean in chapter 63:10 (see Psalms 78: 17 – 22)?

6. In Isaiah 63:11 – 19, Isaiah moves from recalling the past to considering the present. What questions must be on the minds of the exiles as they face their present suffering? What does this prayer tell you about their emotional state? What things upset them? Do you see this as more a prayer of confession, or of complaint? Why?

7. How would you compare the tone of the prayer in chapter 64:1 – 4 to that in chapter 63:15 – 19? What does that tell you about the emotional state of Isaiah? About his real desire?

8. In those days, women used strips of old cloth to catch their menstrual flow. What does that image (chapter 64:6) illustrate about the spiritual state of the exiles? What does the shriveled leaf illustrate?

9. In view of their spiritual bankruptcy, to what truths does Isaiah appeal as he asks for God’s help (chapter 64:8 – 12)? Why does he think that now is the time for God to act?

10. What is the “exodus event” that you fondly recall in your life when it was clear that God was working in you? How do you feel  now when times of spiritual emptiness occur? Does it encourage you or discourage you to recall the past? Why?

11. When have you felt that God must need new glasses because He just doesn’t seem to see what you are going through? How do you account for His silence in those times? How do you pray then?

12. When you pray, do you express to God the full range and intensity of your emotions (joy, anger, sorrow, doubt, fear) or just a narrow band of them? Why?

13. How does your church tradition affect the emotional range present in your prayers? Have you ever wanted to say something like chapter 63:17 or chapter 64:12 to God? Why?

14. Where in your life now do you wish God would do something? How does that affect your prayers?

15. Was there a time when all your righteous acts became as dry leaves or menstrual rags because you lacked humility or did not call on God’s name? What hope do you have that God will still relate to you with mercy and grace (see Romans 3:21 – 26)?

16. Learning from Isaiah, chose one are of your own prayer life which might benefit from attention: repentance, faith, zeal, boldness, relationship, humility, contentedness, concern for God’s honor. How sill you strengthen this area?

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