Isaiah 66:23
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, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) From one new moon to another . . .—Under the Mosaic law Israelites were bound, at least in theory, to attend the temple at the three great feasts. In the new Jerusalem, as the prophet thought of it, the pilgrimages would be both more frequent and more universal. Every sabbath and new moon would witness not Israel only, but “all flesh,” thronging into the courts of the temple. It lies in the nature of the case that the words never have received, and never can receive, a literal fulfilment. The true realisation is found in the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21:22-27, of the perpetual sabbatism of Hebrews 4:9, and even that glorious vision is but the symbol of spiritual realities.

66:19,20, set forth the abundance of means for conversion of sinners. These expressions are figurative, and express the plentiful and gracious helps for bringing God's elect home to Christ. All shall be welcome; and nothing shall be wanting for their assistance and encouragement. A gospel ministry shall be set up in the church; they would have solemn worship before the Lord. In the last verse the nature of the punishment of sinners in the world to come is represented. Then shall the righteous and wicked be separated. Our Saviour applies this to the everlasting misery and torment of impenitent sinners in the future state. To the honour of that free grace which thus distinguishes them, let the redeemed of the Lord, with humility, and not without holy trembling, sing triumphant songs. With this affecting representation of the opposite states of the righteous and wicked, characters which include the whole human race, Isaiah concludes his prophecies. May God grant, for Christ's sake, that our portion may be with those who fear and love his name, who cleave to his truths, and persevere in every good work, looking to receive from the Lord Jesus Christ the gracious invitation, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.And it shall come to pass - As the prophet closes the book and winds up his whole prophecy, he directs the attention to that future period which had occupied so much of his attention in vision, when the whole world should be acquainted with the true religion, and all nations should worship Yahweh. Of such a book there could be no more appropriate close; and such a contemplation especially became the last prophetic moments of the 'evangelical prophet' Isaiah.

From one new moon to another - Margin, 'New moon to his new moon.' The Hebrew literally is, 'As often as the month cometh in its month;' that is, in its time, every month, every new moon (Gesenius, Lexicon, on the word מדי midēy). The Hebrews held a festival on the return of each month, or at every new moon (see the notes at Isaiah 1:14). A similar prophecy occurs in Zechariah 14:16 : 'And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.' In regard to the meaning of this, it is evident that it cannot be taken literally. In the nature of things it would be impossible for all nations to go literally before Yahweh in Jerusalem once a month, or once a year, to worship. It must then be meant that at periodical seasons, all the human family would worship Yahweh. The festivals of the new moon, the feast of tabernacles, and the sabbaths, were the set time among the Hebrews for the worship of God; and the idea is, that on set times, or at regularly recurring intervals, the worship of God would yet be celebrated in all lands. I see no evidence, therefore, that this means that there should be established on the earth the habit of meeting for prayer, or for the worship of God once a month - anymore than the passage above quoted from Zechariah proves that a feast like that of tabernacles would be celebrated once a year. But the idea is clear, that the time would come when Yahweh would be worshipped regularly and periodically everywhere; that in all nations his worship would be established in a manner similar in some respects to that which prevailed among his people in ancient times.

And from one Sabbath to another - (Compare the notes at Isaiah 58:13-14). There can be no permanent worship of God, and no permanent religion on earth, without a Sabbath; and hence it was, that while the observance of the feasts of tabernacles, and of the Passover, and of the new moons, made a part of the ceremonial law, the law respecting the sabbaths was incorporated with the ten commandments as of moral and perpetual obligation; and it will be literally true that all the race shall yet be brought to worship God on the return of that holy day. It was instituted in paradise; and as one design of the plan of redemption is to bring man back to the state in which he was in paradise, so one effect of the true religion everywhere will be, and is, to make people reverence the Sabbath of the Lord. No man becomes truly pious who does not love the holy Sabbath. No nation ever has been, or ever can be converted which will not, and which does not, love and observe that day. Every successful effort to propagate the true religion is a successful effort to extend the practice of observing it; and just as certain as it is that Christianity will be spread around the world, so cerrain will it be that the Sabbath will be observed in all lands. The period is, therefore, yet to arrive when the delightful spectacle will be presented of all the nations of the earth bowing on the return of that day before the living God. The plans of this life will be suspended; toil and care will be laid aside; and the sun, as he rolls around the world, will rouse nation after nation to the worship of the true God; and the peace and order and loveliness of the Christian Sabbath will spread over all the hills and vales of the world. Who that loves the race will not desire that such a period may soon come? Who can wonder that Isaiah should have fixed his eye in the close of his prophetic labors on a scene so full of loveliness, and so replete with honor to God, and with goodwill to people?

Shall all flesh - All the human family, all nations - a most unequivocal promise that the true religion shall yet prevail around the world.

Come to worship before me - That is, they shall assemble for the worship of God in their respective places of devotion.

23. Literally, "As often as the new moon (shall be) in its own new moon," that is, every month (Zec 14:16).

sabbath—which is therefore perpetually obligatory on earth.

all flesh—(Ps 65:2; 72:11).

before me—at Jerusalem (Jer 3:16, 17).

In the gospel church there shall be as constant and settled a course of worship (though of another nature) as ever was in the Jewish church. Christians are not bound to keep the Jewish sabbath or new moons, Ga 4 10,11 Col 2:16; but New Testament worship is often expressed by Old Testament phrases. The Jews were only obliged to appear three times in a year at Jerusalem, but (saith the prophet) the gospel church shall worship God from one

sabbath to another. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another,.... Or, "from month in its months" (q),

The Targum is,

"in the time of the beginning of the "month in its month";''

that is, in every day of the month; or rather every month:

and from one sabbath to another; the form of expressions the same as before; and in like manner paraphrased in the Targum; and signifies either every day in the week; or rather every sabbath, or first day in the week; for we are not to imagine that new moons and Jewish sabbaths, that is, seventh day sabbaths, shall now be observed, which have been long abolished, Colossians 2:16 but, as New Testament officers of churches are, in the preceding verses, called by Old Testament names; so here the times and seasons of Gospel worship are expressed in Old Testament language; and the sense is, that the people of Christ and members of churches, in the latter day, shall constantly attend church meetings; shall assemble together every month to celebrate the Lord's supper; and every Lord's day, to hear the word, pray and sing praises together; hereby enjoying much spiritual peace and rest, and increasing in evangelical light, signified by the new moons and sabbaths; and especially this will have a fuller accomplishment in the New Jerusalem state, when there will be a perfect sabbatism, which now remains for the people of God, and when their light will be exceeding great and glorious; and so the Jews (r) interpret this of the world to come, which is all sabbath or rest; that is, from all toil and labour, from sin and sorrow, from Satan's temptations, and the world's persecutions; but not from the worship and service of God; though that will be in a different and more perfect manner than now it is; as follows:

all flesh shall come to worship before me, saith the Lord; that is, men of all nations, and persons of each sex; not Jews only, and their males, as formerly, but men and women; not every individual, but all that will be converted, which will be many, shall come to the places of public worship, where the saints meet together for that purpose, and join together in it; and this they shall do continually and without intermission, as the first Christians did, Acts 2:42. The Talmud (s) interprets this of such whose heart is become as flesh; see Ezekiel 36:26 these shall not only worship in the presence of God, and in the view of him the omniscient God, and by his assistance, and to his glory; but him himself, Father, Son, and Spirit, with reverence and devotion, in spirit and in truth, and that constantly, in the New Jerusalem, and ultimate glory, in the utmost perfection and purity.

(q) "a tempore mensis in mense ejus"; Montanus; "de mense in mensem suum", Forerius. (r) Midrash Tillim in Psal. xc. 15. apud Galatia de Arcan, Cathol. Ver. l. 11. c. 8. p. 691. (s) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 5. 1.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. Comp. Zechariah 14:16. from one new moon to another, &c.] Lit. “as often as (ch. Isaiah 28:19) there is a new-moon on its new-moon &c.,” i.e. apparently “at each separate new-moon &c.,”—a peculiar idiom found also in Numbers 28:10; Numbers 28:14.

23, 24. Month by month and week by week all flesh shall come to Jerusalem to worship, while the dead bodies of the rebellious Israelites shall remain as a fearful spectacle and an abhorring to all flesh.Verse 23. - From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another. Not that "new moons" and "sabbaths" will continue to be observed, for "new moons" have already lapsed, and "sabbaths" too will lapse when life is one perpetual sabbath passed in the worship of God. The phrase, used by the prophet is intended to express absolute continuance without an interval. Shall all flesh come to worship before me (comp. Psalm 65:2). The prophet still uses habitual modes of expression, though speaking of a time and circumstances to which they are no longer appropriate. "The literal meaning," as Dr. Pusey says ('Prophecy of Jesus,' p. 39), "was physically impossible." "All flesh," in all regions of the "new earth," could not worship in one spot, "and so it was plain that Isaiah spoke of a worship other than that at any given place" - of a worship such as that whereof our Lord spoke to the Samaritan woman, "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father" (John 4:21). The judgment predicted here is a judgment upon nations, and falls not only upon the heathen, but upon the great mass of Israel, who have fallen away from their election of grace and become like the heathen. "They that consecrate themselves and purify themselves for the gardens behind one in the midst, who eat swine's flesh and abomination and the field-mouse-they will come to an end together, saith Jehovah." The persons are first of all described; and then follows the judgment pronounced, as the predicate of the sentence. They subject themselves to the heathen rites of lustration, and that with truly bigoted thoroughness, as is clearly implied by the combination of the two synonyms hammithqaddeshı̄m and hammittahărı̄m (hithpael with an assimilated tav), which, like the Arabic qadusa and tahura, are both traceable to the radical idea ἀφορίζειν. The אל of תונּגּה־לא is to be understood as relating to the object or behoof: their intention being directed to the gardens as places of worship (Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 65:3), ad sacra in lucis obeunda, as Shelling correctly explains. In the chethib בּתּוך אחד אחר, the אחד (for which we may also read אחד, the form of connection, although the two pathachs of the text belong to the keri) is in all probability the hierophant, who leads the people in the performances of the rites of religious worship and as he is represented as standing in the midst (בּתּוך) of the worshipping crowd that surrounds him, 'achar (behind, after) cannot be understood locally, as if they formed his train or tail, but temporally or in the way of imitation. He who stands in their midst performs the ceremonies before them, and they follow him, i.e., perform them after him. This explanation leaves nothing to be desired. The keri, 'achath, is based upon the assumption that 'achad must refer to the idol, and substitutes therefore the feminine, no doubt with an allusion to 'ăshērâh, so that battâvekh (in the midst) is to be taken as referring not to the midst of the worshipping congregation, but to the midst of the gardens. This would be quite as suitable; for even if it were not expressly stated, we should have to assume that the sacred tree of Astarte, or her statue, occupied the post of honour in the midst of the garden, and 'achar would correspond to the phrase in the Pentateuch, אחרים אלהים אחרי זנה. But the foregoing expression, sanctificantes et mundantes se (consecrating and purifying), does not favour this sense of the word 'achar (why not ל equals לכבוד?), nor do we see why the name of the goddess should be suppressed, or why she should be simply hinted at in the word אחת (one). אחד (אחד) has its sufficient explanation in the antithesis between the one choir-leader and the many followers; but if we take 'achath as referring to the goddess, we can find no intelligible reason or object.

Some again have taken both 'achad and 'achath to be the proper name of the idol. Ever since the time of Scaliger and Groitus, 'achad has been associated with the Phoenician ̓́Αδωδος βασιλεὺς θεῶν mentioned by Sanchuniathon in Euseb. praep. ev. 1, 10, 21, or with the Assyrian sun-god Adad, of whom Macrobius says (Saturn. 1, 23), Ejus nominis interpretatio significat unus; but we should expect the name of a Babylonian god here, and not of a Phoenician or Assyrian (Syrian) deity. Moreover, Macrobius' combination of the Syrian Hadad with 'achad was a mere fancy, arising from an imperfect knowledge of the language. Clericus' combination of 'achath with Hecate, who certainly appears to have been worshipped by the Harranians as a monster, though not under this name, and not in gardens (which would not have suited her character), is also untenable. Now as 'achath cannot be explained as a proper name, and the form of the statement does not favour the idea that 'achar 'achath or 'achar 'achad refers to an idol, we adopt the reading 'achad, and understand it to refer to the hierophant or mystagogue. Jerome follows the keri, and renders it post unam intrinsecus. The reading post januam is an ancient correction, which is not worth tracing to the Aramaean interpretation of 'achar 'achad, "behind a closed door," and merely rests upon some rectification of the unintelligible post unam. The Targum renders it, "one division after another," and omits battâvekh. The lxx, on the other hand, omits 'achar 'achad, reads ūbhattâvekh, and renders it καὶ ἐν τοῖς προθύροις (in the inner court). Symmachus and Theodoret follow the Targum and Syriac, and render it ὀπίσω ἀλλήλων, and then pointing the next word בּתוך (which Schelling and Bttcher approve), render the rest ἐν μέσω ἐσθιόντων τὸ κρέας τὸ χοιρεῖον (in the midst of those who eat, etc.). But אכלי commences the further description of those who were indicated first of all by their zealous adoption of heathen customs. Whilst, on the one hand, they readily adopt the heathen ritual; they set themselves on the other hand, in the most daring way, altogether above the law of Jehovah, by eating swine's flesh (Isaiah 65:4) and reptiles (sheqets, abomination, used for disgusting animals, such as lizards, snails, etc., Leviticus 7:21; Leviticus 11:11),

(Note: See Levysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, pp. 218-9.)

and more especially the mouse (Leviticus 11:29), or according to Jerome and Zwingli the dormouse (glis esculentus), which the Talmud also mentions under the name דברא עכברא (wild mouse) as a dainty bit with epicures, and which was fattened, as is well known, by the Romans in their gliraria.

(Note: See Levysohn, id. pp. 108-9. A special delicacy was glires isicio porcino, dormice with pork stuffing; see Brillat-Savarin's Physiologie des Geschmacks, by C. Vogt, p. 253.)

However inward and spiritual may be the interpretation given to the law in these prophecies, yet, as we see here, the whole of it, even the laws of food, were regarded as inviolable. So long as God Himself had not taken away the hedges set about His church, every wilful attempt to break through them was a sin, which brought down His wrath and indignation.

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