Isa 66:1 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?
‘It is also said, that a humble heart is his throne. Isa 57:15. The humble heart is his throne, in regard to his gracious presence; and heaven is his throne, in regard to his glorious presence; and yet neither of these thrones will hold him, for the heaven of heavens cannot contain him.’ (Thomas Watson)
Cf. Acts 17:24.
Isa 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
“He who is humble” – See Rom 1:30 for the contrast.
Isa 66:3 But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man, and whoever offers a lamb, 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, like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations;
Isa 66:4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon 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.”
Isa 66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your brothers 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.
Isa 66:6 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.
Isa 66:7 “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son.
Isa 66:8 Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.
Isa 66:9 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.
Isa 66:10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.
Isa 66:11 For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.”
Isa 66:12 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.
Isa 66:13 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
Isa 66:14 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.
Isa 66:15 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.
Isa 66:16 For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD.
Isa 66:17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things–they will meet their end together,” declares the LORD.
Isa 66:18 “And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.
Isa 66:19 “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.
Isa 66:20 And they will bring all your brothers, 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.
Isa 66:21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the LORD.
Isa 66:22 “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.
Isa 66:23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD.
Isa 66:24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
‘Verse 24 describes the horrible sight of decaying carcasses of the people whom God has judged in 66:15–16.’ (Smith)
According to Harper’s Bible Commentary, ‘the harshness of the final verse was recognized by the Masoretes (rabbinic scribes), who directed that, when it was read in the synagogue, v. 23 was to be read again so that the book would end on a hopeful and merciful note.’
“They will go out and look upon the death bodies of those who rebelled against me” – ‘Remarkably there is a cemetery by the city, and when ‘all flesh’ comes to worship they make a point to go out and look at the fate from which they have been rescued.’ (Motyer)
‘Even today many churches have cemeteries beside them which function as a silent reminder that every individual needs to make the right choices before their end comes.’ (Smith)
“Nor will their fire be quenched” – ‘While this burning may go on continually, it is hardly equivalent to the medieval notion of people suffering the pain of burning in hell forever. Nevertheless, it may seem strange that the book should ultimately close with this picture. In synagogue worship verse 23 is repeated after verse 24, while in Christian worship the problem is “solved” by not reading the passage at all.’ (Goldingay, UBCS)
“Loathsome” – ‘The purpose of visiting the cemetery is not to gloat (it is too awful for that), nor even to pity (though who could restrain pity?), but rather to register again something loathsome (dērā’ôn, cf. Dan. 12:2), to be V 20, p 461 p 461 repelled and revolted; that is to say, to see again the wages of sin and the fruit of rebellion, and thereby to be newly motivated to obedience and love of the word of God.’ (Motyer)
Motyer adds: ‘it is part of the saints’ sense of the reality of their security to be assured that the Lord has dealt, finally and fully, with everything that could ever threaten or blight their eternal joy.’
‘The eternal torment interpretation faces a contradictory text with the most famous, classic “hell” text: Isa 66: 24. In this verse, cited by Jesus in Mark 9: 43– 48, the final destiny of God’s enemies is depicted as death. The undying worm and ever-burning fire do not torment live enemies, but consume the bodies of slain enemies. B. Webb comments: “As it stands, it seems to depict annihilation rather than eternal torment. The bodies are dead.”’ (Bowles, in Christopher M. Date, Gregory G. Stump, Joshua W. Anderson. Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism (p. 154). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.)
‘It is a terrible ending, but it is the same as upon the same floor Christ set to His teaching, the gospel net cast wide, but only to draw in both good and bad upon a beach of judgment; the wedding feast thrown open and men compelled to come in, but among them a heart whom grace so great could not awe even to decency; Christs gospel preached, His Example evident, and Himself owned as Lord, and nevertheless some whom neither the hearing nor the seeing nor the owning with their lips did lift to unselfishness or stir to pity. Therefore He who had cried, Come all unto Me, was compelled to close by saying to many, Depart.
It is a terrible ending, but one only too conceivable. For though God is love, man is free, free to turn from that love; free to be as though he had never felt it; free to put away from himself the highest, clearest, most urgent grace that God can show. But to do this is the judgment.
Harman notes that ‘the contrast here is the same as is set out more fully in New Testament teaching. The Lord is coming ‘to be glorified in his saints and to be admired among all those that believed’, while ‘those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ … will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord’ (2 Thess. 1:8–10).’
Lord, are there few that be saved? The Lord did not answer the question but by bidding the questioner take heed to himself: Strive to enter in at the strait gate.’ (G.A. Smith)