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Thus saith the Lord: As a grape-stone shall be found in the cluster, and they shall say, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for the sake of him that serves me, for his sake I will not destroy them all. 9 And I will lead forth the seed that cameof Jacob and of Juda, and they shall inherit my holy mountain: and mine elect and my servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there. 10 And there shall be in the forest folds of flocks, and the valley of Achor shall be for a resting-place of herds for my people, who have sought me. 11 But ye are they that have left me, and forget my holy mountain, and prepare a table for the devil, and fill up the drink-offering to Fortune. 12 I will deliver you up to the sword, ye shall all fall by slaughter: for I called you, and ye hearkened not; I spoke, and ye refused to hear; and ye did evil in my sight, and chose the things wherein I delighted not. 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall hunger: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall thirst: behold my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: 14 behold, my servants shall exult with joy, but ye shall cry for the sorrow of your heart, and shall howl for the vexation of your spirit. 15 For ye shall leave your name for a loathing to my chosen, and the Lord shall destroy you: but my servants shall be called by a new name, 16 which shall be blessed on the earth; for they shall bless the true God: and they that swear upon the earth shall swear by the true God; for they shall forget the former affliction, it shall not come into their mind.
As we close in upon the end of Great Lent and the end of our study of the Prophet Esaias, we come upon this passage that touches upon several of the great subjects of the hymns and readings of the Great and Holy Week of Christ’s Passion that will begin in a few days: The rejection and punishment of the unrepentant Old Israel, the bringing out of a loyal remnant from the Old Israel who will be the seed of the New Testament Church, and the new name given to the members of the loyal remnant, both the new name of “Christian” and the specific new name given to each of the baptized, signifying his true identity in eternity, the new name written on a white stone, known to God alone, as it is written in the Apocalypse:
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. – Revelation 2:17
St. Cyril of Alexandria, commenting upon the “new name” spoken of in this verse (65:15), says the following:
All things have been made new in Christ, worship and life and the making of laws. For we do not adhere to shadows and ineffective types. We offer adoration, and “worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23).” Unlike Israelites in the flesh we do not take our name from one of the original ancestors or fathers, such as Ephraim or Manasseh or some other tribe; nor do we traverse the path of the scribes and Pharisees who value the antiquity of the letter above everything else. We have instead embraced the new life in Christ by the gospel, and have been given his name [i.e., “Christian,” derived from “Christ”] to wear like a crown. For we are called Christians. This celebrated and blessed name has spread throughout the world. Since we have been blessed by Christ, we in turn strive to gladden him with endless praise and adoration. – St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Esaias.
Most of us who live in the world find “endless praise and adoration” a tall order. It is enough, we usually feel, if we can manage to say our morning and evening prayers and get to church on weekends. But let us, at least for this one most holy week approaching, earnestly strive to step out of the enslavement of time and enter eternity, through attentively worshipping at as many services as possible, keeping a spirit of quiet and reflection in our homes, and working harder than usual at the Jesus Prayer, examination of conscience, and energetic preparation for Holy Communion.
The Lord is waiting for us!
“Behold, my servants shall drink…”