The Scriptorium

Examine Yourself

How can we know if we are among the new wine remnant of God?

All Things New: Isaiah 65(3)

Pray Psalm 102.1, 2.

Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.

Read Isaiah 65.6-10.

1. What do these verses teach us about God’s attitude toward His people?

2. What does He promise them here?

The sins of God’s people were many. They “blasphemed” Him in their worship (v. 7), and this led them to lives of great “iniquities” (v. 6). We may be tempted to think that God is so loving, He will simply overlook our sins. Since they’re no big deal to us, maybe they’re no big deal to Him.

This is the mistake of thinking that God is like us, rather than that we should be like God (Ps. 50.21). But when God’s people compromise His worship, and follow that with lives that do not reflect His holiness, righteousness, justice, and love, God will act against them, and “measure their former work into their bosom” (v. 7; cf. Heb. 12.3-11).

God must act justly against sin. But acting justly does not cancel out His mercy. There is “new wine” to be realized in the “cluster” of Israel (v. 9). He wanted His people to know that He will direct His grace toward a remnant (“not destroy them all”, v. 8), so that they may know Him and His blessings, and through them He may “bring forth descendants” to populate His covenant and enjoy His promises (v. 9).

And who is this remnant? The “elect” (v. 9) of God – those He chooses to save. They will dwell within His promises; they will be His flock; they will know His peace (vv. 9, 10); they will partake of His new wine (v. 8). And how may we know if we are among those chosen ones? Do we seek Him earnestly (v. 10)? Do we cling to and rest in His promises (vv. 9, 10)? Are we turning away from every iniquity, and living according to the ways of the Lord?

These verses were a call to the people of Isaiah’s day to examine themselves. He wants us to do the same (2 Cor. 13.5). Justice and mercy meet in Jesus, and those who have come to know Him will seek Him diligently and follow Him faithfully.

1. Jesus picked up on this reference to “new wine” in Matthew 9.16, 17. How does He teach us to interpret God’s Word in Isaiah 65.8?

2. What does it mean for God’s chosen people to be His “flocks”? Who is our Shepherd? Where is He leading us?

3. How would you counsel a new believer to make his “call and election sure” (2 Pet. 1.10)? What does that involve for you?

Once again the richness of the loving nature of God is shown clearly in this simile. For just as mature wine is found on the vine for whose sake the whole is saved, spared and is not cut off by anyone, so too [God says], “If I find anyone serving me, I will spare them all, just as I swore to Abraham.” Theodore of Heraclea (d. ca. 355 AD), Fragments of Isaiah

I want my call and election to be sure, Lord – not just to me, but to all who know me; so today, help me to…

Pray Psalm 102.

This psalm leads us to consider our need for the new wine of the Lord – to be renewed in Him and His Word. Let the psalm guide you into confession and repentance, in seeking the mercy of the Lord, and in claiming His promise of reviving grace.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 102 (Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
Lord, hear my prayer and cry; hide not Your face from me!
In my distress and tears I sigh – Lord, hear my earnest plea!
My days like smoke blow past; my bones are scorched with sin.
My heart, like wilted, withered grass bends low to earth again.

With loudest groans and cries, and leanness in my soul,
no shelt’ring place arrests my eyes, no rest to make me whole.
My enemies grow strong; I weep with bitter tears;
My days are like a shadow, long; God’s face is no more near.

But You, O Lord, abide forever in Your place.
Arise and stand on Zion’s side and lavish us with grace!
Revive Your Church, O Lord!  Let all her dust and stones
Be strengthened by Your mighty Word, and compact be as one.

Then let the nations fear the glory of the Lord!
For He shall in His Church appear to heed our sighing words.
Then let our children learn to praise the Lord above.
He hears their groans and knows they yearn to dwell within His love.

Yet let us tell God’s Name and praise His glorious grace;
let all as one His love proclaim together in this place. 
Though now our strength is low; though shortened grow our days,
Our God will not forsake us so, but keep us in His ways!

Of old You made the earth and heavens by Your hand.
Though they shall perish You endure; forever shall You stand.
They change, yet You remain the same, without an end. 
Our children shall Your favor gain, and theirs shall be Your friend.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.