Isaiah 66


‘This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.’ Isaiah 66:1-2

Judgment And Hope

The final chapter speaks of a change of heart among the people and the effects produced.

Pledge, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The idea of Israel’s return is associated with that of erecting a new temple. This section deals with the spiritual Jerusalem, the kingdom that we saw in Isaiah 2:2-5. Chapter 66 deals with Israel’s restoration and its antitype, the church of our Lord.’

If God has so high a throne and so high a footstool, man would not be able to build a house to contain Him, Acts 7:50-51 / Hebrews 1:3. God hates the very thought of having those of the rebellious captives build a house for Him.

He begins by asking ‘how can He whom heaven serves as a throne dwell in a house made by hands,’ 1 Kings 8:27 / 2 Chronicles 6:18 / Acts 17:22-29 / John 4:22-24.

All these earthly things were made by God so the man whom God regards is not one who erects an earthly tabernacle, but the one who is humble and fears God and trembles at His Word. This is the kind of man who has a contrite heart, those are the people which God seeks, Matthew 5:1-12.

‘But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” Isaiah 66:3-4

The sinner who would offer an ox to God, might as well kill a man and offer him so far as God is concerned, Mark 7:1-9 / 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

Even though God called they did not answer because they were caught up in their own religiosity that they had made up in their own minds. For evil men to continue offering sacrifices to God is repulsive, they are like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, Matthew 23:14.

‘Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame. Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve.’ Isaiah 66:5-6

Here we have two groups mentioned, those who tremble at the Word of the Lord, and so, God will now bring joy to their hearts and those who mock that Word and so, God will now bring shame upon them, John 3:20 / John 7:7 / John 15:18-19.

The city and temple, to which they desired to go, are esteemed by them as places from which just judgement will issue upon God’s enemies. The noise came from the temple because it was there that they were busy with their sacrifices, mixing pagan beliefs with sacrifices to God.

Kelley, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The voice of Jehovah coming from the temple emphasized that those being judged were the Israelites.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This prophecy, without any doubt, applies to the total destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple by the Romans in 70 A.D., whether or not there might have been earlier applications. The mention of the temple, however, points strongly to the Roman destruction.’

‘Before she goes into labour, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God.’ Isaiah 66:7-9

Here we have a picture of a child born without struggle and pain. The increase of Zion will be sudden and unexpected.

Young, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Thus, the old order passes away, the ancient nation will perish and the Zion of Old Testament times disappears but  from that old Zion there will suddenly come forth a seed, the Gentiles who will enter the household of faith.’

The birth of the church was without pain. God had started the birth of the Messiah into the world when the Gospel was first preached to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3 / Galatians 3:8. These words are intended to strengthen the faith of the captives.

‘Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.’ Isaiah 66:10-14

In an anticipation of such a future, those who love Jerusalem are to rejoice beforehand in the change of their suffering to glory and their afflictions to consolations, Isaiah 2:1-4. The reason for their keen anticipation was that peace and glory would flow to her like a river. God will comfort His servants, the faithful, and punish His enemies.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This is a reference to the custom of mothers to carry their little ones upon the hip. All of the scenes described here are intimate and tender references to motherhood. Direct fellowship with God and full involvement in His church are depicted here.’

‘See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the LORD. “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the one they follow,” declares the LORD.’ Isaiah 66:15-17

Here we read that the redemption from all the nations is enjoyed. God’s judgement upon His enemies prepares a way for deliverance. God appears with warlike terror because He has come for great judgement.

Those who rebelled against God’s Word and worshipped after the pagan rites of the old Canaanite fertility cults followed one who was amongst them.

Wardle, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This means that they followed the actions of ‘one in the midst’, probably a leader of the ceremonies, Ezekiel 8:11, and in the mystic meals, they ate food regarded by the Law as unclean.’

Judgement falls not only upon the heathen but also upon the Jews who become like the heathen, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

‘And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory. “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the LORD.’ Isaiah 66:18-21

Here we read that the deeds and devices of the wicked were not unknown to God.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning ‘the sign’.

‘The only sign that our Lord ever gave to the unbelieving Jews was The sign of the prophet Jonah, that like as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, Matthew 12:39-40, in short, the Resurrection of Christ!’

Those who escaped, the righteous remnant, would go forth proclaiming God’s greatness and saving power among those nations which had never heard His name nor seen His glory, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16. Those who come will see the glory of God through Jesus Christ, John 11:4 / John 11:40 / John 11:55.

Those who are delivered from their sins will be sent throughout the world, Acts 8:4. We have a picture of ‘all nations’ flowing unto spiritual Jerusalem, Isaiah 2:2-4 and we read of a prophecy of the Gospel age, referring to the priesthood, Jews and Gentiles, of believers, 1 Peter 2:5-9.

‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” Isaiah 66:22-24

Here we read that worship is offered from among all nations, Romans 12:1-2. The mass of Israel perished but Israel would continue as the new heaven and new earth. This is a prophetic type and changes into a spiritual state, Romans 2:28-29.

Forever the church will be recognised as the people whom God has chosen to be His own. The old Israel of God will be replaced by the new Israel, the church, that is, spiritual Israel.

Using Old Testament figures, the prophet teaches that there will be a faithful, regular, legitimate worship of God on the part of all flesh in the new dispensation.

The final verse is a figure of speech designed to cause the Jews to remember the terrible judgement God had brought upon the unrighteous. The figure of the condemnation of the wicked is taken from the Valley of Hinnom, that is, Gehenna, where the bodies of 185,000 dead Assyrians were burned, 2 Kings 19:35 / Mark 9:47-48.

Pledge, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It would be well to keep in mind that the language of this closing section is extremely figurative and deals with the church today. It does not refer to some state yet future, but it was spoken regarding the national restoration of Israel as a TYPE of the greater restoration which should be affected by the servant whom the Lord would send, Jesus Christ.’

Worship will no longer be on the Sabbath, just one day a week. It will be daily, from Sabbath to Sabbath, Acts 5:42 / Romans 12:1-2. Those who would be cast out are those who refuse to obey the Gospel, Mark 9:48. The Jews were thus left with a vision that encouraged hope for the future.