Today: [Isaiah 66] Book of Isaiah, Conclusion. In chapter 66 of Isaiah we re-examine the authorship and character of this all important and unique book of prophetic utterance. Isaiah is the first of the prophetic books and is uniquely messianic. In this concluding chapter, Isaiah speaks sternly against the ongoing idolatry of the people and the city of Jerusalem itself. As this book began denouncing idolatry among the people of God it concludes with the same adding a strong promise of hope to those who choose to walk in humility and contrition before the Father.
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[Isa 66:1-24 KJV] 1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? 2 For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 3 He that killeth an ox [is as if] he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, [as if] he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, [as if he offered] swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, [as if] he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose [that] in which I delighted not. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. 6 A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies. 7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. 8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? [or] shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
We now come to the concluding chapter of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah’s name means “Yahweh is Salvation” and his ministry began 740 years before Jesus and spanned approximately 60 years before he was martyred by being sawn in two by king Manasseh. The book of Isaiah is the 23rd book of the bible and the first book of 17 books of prophecy beginning with the book of Isaiah and ending with the book of Malachi after which commence intertestamental period known as the 400 silent years. Isaiah has been called the “messianic prophet” and the “apostle Paul of the Old Testament”. Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzzah, Jothom, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh. He spent most of his time in Jerusalem and was a contemporary with the prophet Hosea and the prophet Micah. His message was very strident, yet the word salvation appears 26 times in his book and only 7 times in all the other prophetic books combined.
In verse 1 of chapter 66, the Father asserts His mastery over the heavens which are His throne and the earth which is His footstool. The Hebrew word for footstool is interesting because it comes from a root word meaning “captain”. It implies that the rulers and “captains” of the earth, in their nations and armies are subject to the sovereignty of God and the purposes of God are ultimately worked out through those powers be they spiritual principalities or natural, human rulers. This is important for us to bear in mind because in the New Covenant we are affirmed as being “seated with Him” in that place of rule and ascendency as the apostle Paul declares:
[Eph 2:6 KJV] 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
What this coauses to understand is that we are partakers of the rule of God as born again believers. The Father extends His rule not only to us or merely in our behalf. The rule of God is extended to us and through us as Paul later asserts:
[Eph 3:10 KJV] 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Note that the church is not merely an observer to the process but rather the instrumentality through which the sovereignty of God and the rule of God and the kingdom of God will ultimately and fully be made manifest.
The first part of our chapter decries the idolatrous practices of the people and God’s dealings with them, at the same time making it clear that the Spirit of the Lord overshadows and draws near to the one who is poor in spirit and of a contrite heart that trembles at His word. God is not moved by our religious practices or activities. Lengthy fasting does not change His mind. Using particular wording or specific approaches in prayer does not unlock any special keys by which God will then act toward you in ways He wouldn’t otherwise. God acts in your life because you are impoverished in your inner man without Him. He moves in your life because you have a contrite heart and a deep, abiding respect for His word. It is astounding that there is so much teaching about answered prayer, very little of it which emphasizes a love for God’s word and time spent meditating and absorbing the sacred narrative that He has handed down to us over the centuries.
9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut [the womb]? saith thy God. 10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon [her] sides, and be dandled upon [her] knees. 13 As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 And when ye see [this], your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and [his] indignation toward his enemies. 15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
In verse 9 the Father promises us that in spite of the downfall of those who call upon His name yet live lives steeped in idolatry – that His promise will still be brought forth. There is always a remnant who bring forth the fruits of repentance and humility before Him that He will work with and manifest Himself through. The important thing is not to mark or make note of all those that are falling short. There are no rewards in heaven for those who point the finger or work to identify the offenders. The matter of utmost priority for us is that we follow the command of Paul in 2 Co. 13:5
[2Co 13:5 KJV] 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
There is much energy expended by many in the body of Christ to examine others, and to seek to know where leaders or fellow believers are falling short. Having identified the failings of others they spare no expense and waste no time declaring and publishing these scandals as though in so doing the Father will look down from heaven and say “well done good and faithful servant…” It isn’t our job to scandalize the body of Christ with our energies spent on criticizing and vilifying those who don’t live up to our religious standards. Our part rather is to take that energy and pour it out upon our own secret lives, examining ourselves with much deeper scrutiny than we every applied to any outward situation to know are we in the faith? Are we reprobate? Do we tremble at His word? Are we living lives characterized by contrition and humility? Regardless of what others may do or think or plan it is the heart that postures itself so before God and His throne that will be protected, shielded and favored in the midst of the upheaval that comes upon the earth when men turn their hearts from His kingdom.
17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one [tree] in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD. 18 For I [know] their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. 19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, [to] Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, [to] Tubal, and Javan, [to] the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. 20 And they shall bring all your brethren [for] an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. 21 And I will also take of them for priests [and] for Levites, saith the LORD. 22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. 24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
In verse 17 we see that there are those that are those who are sanctifying and purifying themselves – but not before God. They are sacrificing and purging themselves in the gardens and groves where the idols stand leering over polluted altars. They drink swine’s flesh and eat mice as though it was a sacrament and God’s promise is they will be consumed in the fires of their own burning and verse 19 says that none shall escape. Let us be clear. Idolatry is as rampant in the modern world and Christian culture as it ever way. The blood of Christ and the work of the cross is not a shelter from sin that is unrepented of or idolatry that continues unchecked in the life of a believer. This sobering message of Isaiah is not to pagan nations but to those living in the very shadow of the temple of Solomon, who frequented the courts of God daily yet lived lives of unchecked self-interest.
In the midst of dealing with the idolatry of the earth God’s promise in verse 20 is that there will be clean vessels in the house of the Lord. During Isaiah’s tenure as a prophet he had witnessed every kind of abomination and pollution in the temple. Remember when we read this that we are the temple in our persons and the Spirit of God lives in us. Therefore we take hope and look to God who is capable not only of showing mercy to us when we choose to walk in contrition before Him but He will also cleanse us and deliver us from every transgression and sinful stronghold.
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