Question & Answer Forum

David Oliver

What is the meaning of God’s message in Isaiah 65:22?

"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" (Isa 65:22). This echoes from the beginning of Israel’s national history in their land. The sins of the idolatrous inhabitants of the land rose to such a level that God removed them and gave it to Israel (Gen 15:7, 16). When they went into that land, they received cities they didn’t build, houses they didn’t fill, wells they didn’t dig, and vineyards and olive trees they didn’t plant (Deu 6:11). Because of God’s judgment, the previous tenants built and didn’t inhabit, and planted but didn’t eat the fruit. God warned His people that disobeying Him would bring a curse; they would build a house and not dwell in it and plant vineyards and not eat the grapes (28:30), because invaders would oppress and spoil them (v 29).

As the decades of their disobedience mounted, they suffered tastes of this from invading armies, as in the days of Judges. Eventually, the Babylonian army carried them away captive and they suffered the full weight of the curse; their houses and vineyards were left for their captors to enjoy. During their captivity, the Lord pointed to a future day when He would regather them, judge their enemies, and cause His people to dwell safely in their land (Eze 25, 26). They would build houses, plant vineyards, and dwell there with confidence. That promise has not yet been fulfilled, but will be during the coming earthly reign of Christ. They would no longer be disobedient and never again suffer from invaders.

The passage in Isaiah 65 includes this blessing, but extends it. The context deals with the longevity God’s obedient people will enjoy during those thousand years (Isa 65:20). Even if no enemy invaded their land in the past, death would eventually intervene and someone else would live in their house and eat from their vineyards. In that future kingdom, where believers have God’s law written on their hearts, even death will not dispossess them of houses and lands. Their days will be lengthened to the age of trees, which generally outlive animal life. Horticulturalists indicate that some of the olive trees presently standing in Jerusalem’s Garden of Gethsamane were there when the Lord agonized in the garden’s dust.

The result would be prolonged enjoyment of their labors, for their days would be long on the land which the Lord gave them (Exo 20:12). The verse then assures their security (no dispossession), longevity (no death), and felicity (no departure).

D. Oliver

Does Matthew 7, verses 13 and 14 depict the condition of the lost?

Let there be no doubt about this. The people who heard the Lord were unbelievers who were in danger of being excluded from the kingdom of heaven (Mat 7:22, 23). They recognized that the key issue was authority (v 29), because He stated that inclusion in or exclusion from the kingdom depended on whether or not they built on His words (vv 24-27). He warned them that purveyors of false teaching would lure them down the wide, easy road of destruction. He called for submission to His word and a resultant righteousness based on His teaching, not on the compromised teaching of men (5:20-48). Any who would walk this narrow way must enter through the narrow gate. Apart from a new life, no one can live righteously in God’s sight (Rom 8:7, 8). Any who attempted to live the righteousness the Lord taught would only discover their need of a Savior (3:19). The first 8 chapters of Romans bring us to universal guilt (3:19), a righteous standing by personal faith (5:1), and righteous living by the power of the indwelling Spirit (8:4, 9, 13-15). Previous to His Mountain Message, the Lord had taught Nicodemus these things (John 3:1-21).

Viewing the Lord’s words in the context and in light of other Scriptures, the message to the lost is clear. Only by submission to His Word (repentance), a new birth, and a righteous life (that attests to the reality of their new life) will individuals be in heaven. Apart from that, no matter what else they have or do, they will end in destruction, will perish (the root word for destruction) in hell forever.

D. Oliver

Why do some say that the teaching of Matthew 7, verses 13 and 14 is a message for believers?

Unbelievers (7:28) and believers (5:1) were both present while the Lord spoke. As in all that He did and said, His message was a model of good preaching; He set out the truth and then called for action. Verses 13 through 27 were His summary and call for action. Such was His skill in speaking that His summary applied to all who listened. He expressed universal principles. Submission to His Word results in "life which is life indeed" (1Ti 6:19, RV), enjoyed both now and eternally. Disobedience to His Word results in loss, suffered both now and eternally.

We who are believers need this reminder. The value of our present life and testimony depends on uncompromising submission to His Word. The degree to which we disregard His Word is the degree to which we will suffer loss at the Bema (1Co 3:12-15).

D. Oliver

What language will be spoken in the Millennium and beyond?

This was likely debated by the Puritans who tried to investigate how many angels could stand on the head of a pin.

Because the Lord spoke from heaven in the Hebrew tongue to Saul (Acts 26:14), some have concluded that Hebrew is the language of heaven. However, in the days of His flesh, the Lord communicated in Aramaic (Mat 27:46). The Spirit communicated with John and the seven churches in Greek. God communicates in the language people understand.

Just as all the earth had one language originally (Gen 11:1), so the Lord confounded (mixed) the language of all the earth (v 9). That seems to clearly state that all extant languages are a result of this intervention of God. Therefore, the "original" language does not exist.

If this is so, God has not revealed the answer to this question.

D. Oliver

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