Isaiah 66

 Isaiah 66 - The Finale

Isaiah begins his final section with a discussion of true and false worship.  This topic is one that he has touched on often in the previous chapters of the book.

Isa 66:1-2
  • "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool"
    • So how can you attempt to build a place for me to dwell?
      • I've created everything - so anything you make out of it is a lesser work than what I have already done
    • Quoted by Stephen in Acts 7:49-50 to point out that the Jews cannot reasonably cling to their past physical expressions of God's presence with them, the tabernacle and the temple, as having special access to Him because God is not bound by these things
  • So, in what is God pleased?  Not in accomplishments or efforts of our own doing
    • But in the poor and contrite in spirit and who tremble with holy fear
      • Mat 5:1-10
        • "Poor in spirit" - those who are keenly aware of their spiritual bankruptcy apart from God; the opposite of self-sufficiency (J. MacArthur)
        • "Those who mourn" - Godly sorrow over sin that leads to repentence
          • 2 Cor 7:8-10 - there is a key difference between worldly sorrow (which Paul would regret producing) and Godly sorrow over sin that needs to be dealt with
        • "Meek" - the fact that they will inherit the earth is a quotation from Ps 7:11, where meekness is in contrast to the wicked (who exhibit anger and wrath, v. 8).  Thus, it is not weakness, but rather those who are self-controlled and seek peace
Isa 66:3-4
  • Contrasts between the genuine offerings God desires and the offerings of the pagans:
    • Bull as if Man (child sacrifice)
    • Lamb as if Dog (unclean animal)
    • Grain as if Swine (unclean animal)
    • Incense as if Idol (false god)
  • Again, in what is God pleased?  Not in merely the actions (sacrifices/offerings) that He has requested, but a broken and contrite spirit from which the sacrifices come
  • Since the people choose to try to achieve their desires by their own methods (and then merely give heartless sacrifices to God), God will, ironically, choose their outcome for them, and instead of their "delights" it will be their "delusions" (calamities)
    • Some attribute this to:
      • The destruction of the temple by the Babylonians following their invasion in 586 BC (referring back to v. 1)
      • The destruction at the hands of the Romans following their crucifixion of Jesus (for fear of the Romans!)
  • v. 4 is a repeat of Isa 65:12 - a judgement on those who willfully disobey and ignore God's instruction, not those who sin and then repent
Isa 66:5-6
  • "Your brethren who hated you" - unbelieving, apostate Israelites
    • "Let the Lord be glorified that we may see your joy" - in the same sarcastic spirit as Isa 5:19
    • But they will ultimately be ashamed when God's judgment comes (through the Babylonians)
Isa 66:7-13 - A proclamation of the birth of the Christian Church
  • The normal birth process takes months, and then the child must mature over years
  • This is how nations are typically birthed - they gradually grow and establish themselves (v. 8)
  • However, when God deliver's his Child, the Church will spread rapidly, as if it grew before the birth pangs even started, following Pentecost
Isa 66:14-24
  • We again have the contrast of peace for God's servants (v. 12), but indignation and fury to his enemies (v. 14-17)
    • "Those who sanctify themselves... to go to the gardens after an idol" - the same language as v. 3-4
    • See also 2 Thes. 1:7-9
  • "Those... who escape" (v. 19) - the faithful remnant who avoid the penalty of God's judgment will be sent out to then spread the Gospel
    • Tarshish - possibly in Spain
    • Pul and Lud - in North Africa
    • Tubal - in Asia Minor
    • Javan - in Greece
  • These represent going to "all the Earth" (Mat. 28:19-20)
  • v. 20: The now Christian Gentiles will be the offering to God, instead of the OT offerings
    • Rom 12:1-2
  • v. 21: "I will also take some of them for priests and Levites"
    • Indicative of the new dispensation where membership and status is not dictated by bloodlines, but rather through adoption
      • Gal 3:5-9 (quoting Gen 12:3)
      • Rom. 11:17-18, 9:6-9
    • It is not the literal tribe of Levi that is now privileged, but instead any who are called to the ministry.  Through the Holy Spirit, both Jews and Gentiles alike receive spiritual gifts from God.
      • 1 Cor 12:1-11
      • Rom 12:3-8
  • So, we are not to just seek God justly and receive his favor, but we are to then go out and serve Him - a theme repeated in both Isaiah 66 and Romans 12

Isa 66:22-24
  • The eternality of both the blessing to the faithful (in the new heavens and the new earth - v. 22) and the punishment of the wicked (in hell - v. 24)
    • Quoted by Jesus in Mark 9:42-50
So, the book concludes with a prophetic description of the everlasting destiny of all of mankind