ALL DAY long GOD is STRETCHING His HANDS to US: "I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' to a nation that was not called by My name. I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts". (Isaiah 65:1-2)
In response to the prayer in the previous chapter (63:15–64:12), God now speaks to the Gentiles who have come to trust in His salvation, and has become part of the New Testament church of God. This verse (v. 1) has been quoted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:20 in relation to the unconditional election of the Gentiles as the ‘people of God’. This happened only when the rebellious people of God (the Jews) refused God’s gracious offer of salvation and provoked Him greatly. Because of Israel’s election as the covenant people of God, their false assumption was that this was an election to privilege and not to responsibility. In time they falsely assumed that their election as the chosen (vs. 15) nation was based on some merit of their own!
When God says “I was sought” it literally means “I allowed Myself to be found”. God’s glorious presence assures salvation. “A nation that was not called by My name” include the Gentiles (42:1; 49:6, 22; 52:15) and the remnant who “sought” God (v. 10). Together they are the servants who will be called “by another name” (v. 15). As mentioned earlier, Apostle Paul saw his ministry to the Gentiles as a fulfillment of this promise (Rom. 10:20, 21). Peter calls the New Testament Church “a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9).
“I have stretched out My hands” pictures God beckoning Israel to respond to Him. “All day long” suggests God’s long-suffering patience. The “rebellious people” describe Israel (63:10) who provoked God through their abominable religious practices including arrogance (65:2), open defiance (65:3), idolatrous fertility rites (65:3), divination (65:4), eating unclean foods (65:4), and blasphemous self-righteousness (65:5). God had “held out [His] hands to an obstinate people,” but they provoked Him with their idolatrous practices!
Let us understand that in a similar fashion, God is stretching out His Hands towards us all day long with love, and will only act on our behalf when our repentance is genuine and our obedience is real. However, when our religion is as thoroughly contaminated with paganism as the people of Israel whose “hands were full of blood” (1:15), God can do little for us!
Like in the case of Israel, God is pleading with us today to turn from our sins and come back to Him. While the Jews rejected God’s call, the Gentiles responded in their stead. In the similar manner, if we reject this persistent call of God, He will choose someone else in our place. Let us beware that Israel’s fate does not repeat itself in our future lives as well.