QUESTION No. 26: How do you explain Isaiah 65:20? The prophet is speaking about the new earth; if so, how can death exist there, since in Revelation it is stated there will be no death?
ANSWER: Let us quote the Bible verse in full: “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20.
This Bible verse is one of the hard texts to understand. Many made up their conjectures about the possibility of this Bible verse to be fulfilled on this earth in the future, perhaps between the end of the millennium and the destruction of the wicked. Others, considering other verses in the same chapter believe that this will really be in the new earth. Children will be born, marriages be performed, etc. These are some of the conjectures.
In order to understand clearly this chapter, especially verse 20, we need to understand the way the Bible is written. We have many other chapters in the Bible incorporating two prophecies which may be interpreted with a double application. It would be helpful to examine a few of them:
1) Isaiah 14:4 speaks about the king of Babylon, then in verses 12 to 20 about Lucifer (Satan), then verse 22 Babylon is re-introduced. Some Scripture readers may interpret that Lucifer was the king of literal Babylon, but we understand that the chapter has two prophecies. It speaks not only of the city of Babylon and its king, but also of Lucifer, the fallen angel.
2) Another text of the same nature is found in Ezekiel 28:12. It speaks of the king of Tyrus, then in verses 13 to 19 it speaks of Satan, the cherub that covereth. This prophecy also has two prophecies which could be confused, and only those who have a clear understanding of all the prophecies would most likely distinguish which part was fulfilled with Tyrus, which part applies to Satan, and which part includes both of them.
3) A similar confusion could be applied to the 24th chapter of Matthew where it relates the destruction of the world and of Jerusalem. Some parts were fulfilled in the past which will not be repeated, some took place in the past and will happen agaom in the future, and part of it will be fulfilled only in the future. Jesus described both Jerusalem and the world’s final destruction together because the disciples were not able to comprehend such terrible things which would occur to the holy city or of the temple. Out of mercy Jesus did this.
A Child Shall Die an Hundred Years
The same with the 65th chapter of Isaiah. It has a two applications. Part of the chapter applies to the earthly Jerusalem and the Jewish people in the past, part of it applies to the heavenly Jerusalem and the redeemed, whereas part of the chapter could be applied to both. In order to understand this chapter we need to understand God’s purpose toward Israel. Let us comment verse by verse, beginning from verse 17:
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Isaiah 65:17
This Bible verse has a direct application to the earth made new, which will take place in the future. It is identical to the prophecies written in Revelation 21:1, 5; 2 Peter 3:14. Let us read further:
“But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” Isaiah 65:18, 19
This part of the chapter seems to have application to both the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem. The last part of verse 19 seems to have direct application to the heavenly.
“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20
It was God’s purpose that the people of Israel be established in Jerusalem, the Metropolis of the earth, and the people dwelling therein be a healthy people enjoying long life. The promises made here are identical to the promises God made to Israel when they left Egypt. The Lord promised:
“And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.” Deuteronomy 7:15
Compared with the lives of the people before the flood, being 100 years of age would be a young person.
The Moffat translation reads: “No babe shall die there any more in infancy, nor any old man who has not lived out his years of life; he who dies youngest lives a hundred years; any one dying under a hundred years must be accursed by God.” Isaiah 65:20 (Moffat).
The International Version reads: “Never again will there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.”
The New Jerusalem Bible puts it this way: “No more will the sound of weeping or the sound of cries be heard in her; in her, no more will be found the infant living a few days only, or the old man not living to the end of his days. To die at the age of a hundred will be dying young; not to live to be a hundred will be the sign of a curse.”
The New English Bible reads: “There no child shall ever again die an infant, no old man fail to live out his life; every boy shall live his hundred years before he dies, whoever falls short of a hundred shall be despised.”
As we see, if one would die at 100 years of age he would still be a young person. Dying before 100 years old one must be an accursed person.
Neither death nor any curse exists in the earth made new. (Read Revelation 21:4; 22:3). Therefore these things could only happen in the earthly Jerusalem. Let us read the next verses:
“And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 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.” Isaiah 65:21, 22.
These two verses seem to apply to both the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem. Verses 23 and 24 read:
“They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer: and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 56:23, 24.
The only statement which, in our understanding, does not refer to the new earth is: “nor bring forth for trouble”. According to the words of Jesus in the new earth there will be no marriages, no births. The saved will be like the angels. See Luke 20:34‑36.
The last verse of the chapter reads:
“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 65:25.
This verse could have been partially fulfilled if Israel had not frustrated God’s plan towards them. The full and final fulfillment of this promise will be in the future, in the new earth.
A few interesting paragraphs from the pen of inspiration will help us to understand God’s plan:
“God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.
“Their obedience to the law of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher, and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations, and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth…
“If they would keep His commandments, God promised to give them the finest of the wheat, and bring them honey out of the rock. With long life would He satisfy them, and show them His salvation.” COL 288, 289.
“That which God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He will finally accomplish through His church on earth to‑day.” PK 713, 714.