The Life, Times And Message Of Isaiah The Prophet Feb/Mar 1975

A MAN-MADE TEMPLE CANNOT CONTAIN AN INFINITE GOD, NOR CAN THE SACRIFICE BY THE WICKED PLEASE A HOLY GOD
ISAIAH CHAPTER 66:1-14

1 Thus says the LORD, the heavens are My throne,
And the earth My footstool.
Where is the house which you could build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
2 For all these things were made by My hand,
And so came into being, says the LORD.
Yet to such a man shall I look:
To him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
Who trembles at My word.
3 He who slaughters an ox is, as if he had slain a man.
He who sacrifices a lamb is, as if he had broken a dog’s neck.
He who brings a meal offering is, as if he offered a pig’s blood.
And he who makes an offering of incense is, as if he blessed an idol.
All they have chosen their own ways,
And their souls delight in their abominations.
4 Therefore I also will choose their mockeries,
To bring their fears upon them.
Because when I called, none answered.
When I spoke, none did hear,
But did that which was evil in Mine eyes,
And chose that in which I do not delight.

Comment:

1 Thus says the LORD: the heavens are My throne … the earth My footstool

Since the whole universe is the handiwork of God and the earth merely His footstool, how can puny man build a temple for this infinite God?

2 Yet … I look to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit

Nevertheless, this transcendent and infinite God condescends in His mercy to take notice of a man who is humble and of a contrite spirit.

jj The Hebrew word, “ani”—”poor”, is closely related to the word, “aniv”—humble, and both are occasionally used interchangeably, that is, “poor in spirit” or “humble”. In the Sermon on the Mount there is an echo of Is. 66:2:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:3 The Gospel of Luke renders this:

“Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20

Who trembles at My word

“Who trembles at My word” refers to a man who stands in absolute awe and in obedience to God’s word.

3 He who slaughters an ox is, as if he had slain a man

The expression, “as if”’ is absent from the Hebrew text, but is clearly implied.

For lawful sacrifices are paired and contrasted with four unlawful and disgusting sacrifices, used in pagan rites. The sense of it is that even the sacrifices commanded by the Law are to the Lord just like pagan offerings, if the one who brings the sacrifice is wicked, a theme which Isaiah preached right from the beginning of his book (see 1:11ff).

4 Therefore I will choose their mockeries to bring their fears upon them

Just as the ungodly have chosen their wicked ways to defy and to outrage God, so He also will choose their outrageous acts to punish and to bring upon them the very fears which they tried to avert by their pagan rites.

The word, “tauleihem” — their “mockeries” or “frivolous acts”— is derived from a word which describes a spoiled child, what in contemporary speech might be called “’a brat”. This is how the wicked, apostate and self-willed children of Israel appeared to Jehovah.

Because when I called, none answered
This is a repetition of chapter 65:12.
5-9 A message of comfort for the faithful but despised remnant.
Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word,
Your brethren who hate you,
And have cast you out for My name’s sake, have said:
“Let the LORD be glorified that we may see your joy.”’
But they shall be put to shame.
6 Hark, a sound of uproar from the city.
Hark, a tumult from the temple,
It is the voice of the LORD,
Who executes retribution to His enemies.
7 Before she was in labor, she gave birth.
Before the pangs of birth came upon her,
She brought forth a son.
8 Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen anything like this?
Is a land brought forth in one day?
Is a nation born at once?
But as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.
9 Shall I bring to birth and not cause to bring forth?
Or shall I bring forth and shut the womb?
Says thy God.

Comment:

5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word

The message is addressed to the despised remnant who cling to the word of God.

Your brethren who hate you and have cast you out . . .

The faithful remnant and the apostate people are both a part of Israel, they are therefore called “your brethren”. The term “to cast out” later became a technical term for excommunication from the synagogue. It was used in this sense in the Gospels:

“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea. the time is coming that whosoever kills you will think that he does God a service.” Jn. 16:2 (see also Mt. 24:9 and Lk. 21:12)

“Let the LORD be glorified so that we may see your joy”

A taunting remark, addressed by the ungodly to the faithful. As if to say: “If you consider your persecution as suffering for the sake of God, then let us see how you enjoy it.” But these wicked will be ashamed when God delivers His saints and settles accounts with those who despised them.

6 Hark, a sound of uproar from the city

This verse describes the punishment about to fail upon the ungodly city and on the Temple. This prophecy was dramatically fulfilled when the Babylonians and later the Romans invaded Jerusalem and razed the Temple.

7-9 After the punishment of the wicked, the LORD will rapidly replenish the population of Jerusalem.

7 Before she was in labor, she gave birth

Verses 7-9 express amazement at the speedy rebirth of the nation and the land.

9 …. Shall I bring forth and shut the womb?

The LORD who brought about the rebirth of the nation will not leave His work unfinished but will complete it. The promise ends with the solemn assurance, “says thy God”.

10-14  A message of comfort to the mourners of Jerusalem

10 Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
All you who love her.
Rejoice with her exceedingly, all you who mourn for her.
11 That you may suck consolation from her breast and be fully satisfied,
That you may drink, in deeply and delight yourselves
With the abundance of her glory..
12 For thus says the LORD:
Behold, I will extend to her peace like a river,
And like an overflowing stream the glory of the nations.
And you shall suck and be carried on the side
And dandled on the knee.
13 Like a man whom his mother comforts so shall I comfort you.
And you shall find comfort in Jerusalem.
14 When you shall see this, your heart shall rejoice,
And your bones shall flourish like grass.
And the hand of the LORD shall be known toward His servants,
But He shall be indignant against His enemies.

Comment:

10 Rejoice with Jerusalem … all you who love her

The prophet commands those who love Jerusalem and have mourned for her in her degradation to rejoice with her in her glory. The verbs “simhu” and “gilu” are synonymous expressions of rejoicing.

11 That you may suck consolation from her breast and be fully satisfied

Here the mourners and lovers of Jerusalem are compared to an infant, long deprived of its mother’s milk and comfort. The infant, which is the faithful remnant, will soon be restored to its mother’s breast, Jerusalem. It will drink in hungrily and with delight the nourishing abundance of its mother, (the word,”ziz” an “’udder”’ a figure of abundance). Jerusalem is here movingly personified as -a loving mother who embraces all her returning children and feeds them from her breast.

12 … Behold, I will extend to her peace like a river

Jerusalem, which in the past has suffered endless ravages of war and disaster will at last become that which her name signifies, “The City of Peace”. Peace will flow toward her like a river, whose waters never cease to roll.

And like an overflowing stream the glory of the nations

Jerusalem will become a spiritual center and will draw towards her “the glory of the nations”, that is, the best among the nations and the best of what they possess. “The glory of the nations” should be understood concretely, that is, the best of everything which the nations possess both in spiritual and material values. All this they will bring to Jerusalem as a tribute to Jehovah, the God of Jerusalem and of her people.

And you shall suck and be carried on the side and dandled on the knee

In the prophet’s vision Israel is no longer despised among the nations, but beloved for the sake of her God. The carrying of children on the side was practiced in antiquity among the Semitic nations.The children of Israel will be brought back from exile, carried and fondled by their former captors and hosts because of their new reverence and love for Jehovah.The same thought is ___________ (cannot read word due to hole punch) in greater detail in chapter 49:22 and 60:4f.

13 Like a man whom his mother comforts, so shall I comfort you … in Jerusalem

The prophet now leaves the figure of the hungry infant craving to be comforted by its mother and introduces in its place the figure of a mature but troubled man who seeks comfort, understanding and compassion from his mother. In a similar manner, God will comfort His faithful servants. Incidentally it is rare in the O.T. to find God compared to a loving mother. Usually He is compared to a compassionate father (Ps. 103:13, Is. 63:16, 64:8).

14 When you shall see this, your heart shall rejoice

The abundant grace of God in restoring the children of Israel to Jerusalem will fill the hearts of His people with joy.

And your bones shall flourish like grass

“The bones” in Old Testament usage, represent the whole physical structure of man, his body, which is affected by joy or sorrow (see Ps. 35:10, 51:8, Is. 58:11).

And the hand of the LORD shall be known toward His servants,.. and… enemies

The LORD shall manifest Himself to His servants in love but toward His enemies in indignation. This is a line which forms a natural transition to the next passage.

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