Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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?
Isa 66:1-24. The Humble Comforted, the Ungodly Condemned, at the Lord's Appearing: Jerusalem Made a Joy on Earth.
This closing chapter is the summary of Isaiah's prophecies as to the last days, hence the similarity of its sentiments with what went before.
1. heaven … throne … where is … house … ye build—The same sentiment is expressed, as a precautionary proviso for the majesty of God in deigning to own any earthly temple as His, as if He could be circumscribed by space (1Ki 8:27) in inaugurating the temple of stone; next, as to the temple of the Holy Ghost (Ac 7:48, 49); lastly here, as to "the tabernacle of God with men" (Isa 2:2, 3; Eze 43:4, 7; Re 21:3).
where—rather, "what is this house that ye are building, &c.—what place is this for My rest?" [Vitringa].
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.
2. have been—namely, made by Me. Or, absolutely, were things made; and therefore belong to Me, the Creator [Jerome].
poor—humble (Isa 57:15).
trembleth at … word—(2Ki 22:11, 19; Ezr 9:4). The spiritual temple of the heart, though not superseding the outward place of worship, is God's favorite dwelling (Joh 14:23). In the final state in heaven there shall be "no temple," but "the Lord God" Himself (Re 21:22).
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.
3. God loathes even the sacrifices of the wicked (Isa 1:11; Pr 15:8; 28:9).
is as if—Lowth not so well omits these words: "He that killeth an ox (presently after) murders a man" (as in Eze 23:39). But the omission in the Hebrew of "is as if"—increases the force of the comparison. Human victims were often offered by the heathen.
dog's neck—an abomination according to the Jewish law (De 23:18); perhaps made so, because dogs were venerated in Egypt. He does not honor this abomination by using the word "sacrifice," but uses the degrading term, "cut off a dog's neck" (Ex 13:13; 34:20). Dogs as unclean are associated with swine (Mt 7:6; 2Pe 2:22).
oblation—unbloody: in antithesis to "swine's blood" (Isa 65:4).
burneth—Hebrew, "he who offereth as a memorial oblation" (Le 2:2).
they have chosen—opposed to the two first clauses of Isa 66:4: "as they have chosen their own ways, &c., so I will choose their delusions.
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.
4. delusions—(2Th 2:11), answering to "their own ways" (Isa 66:3; so Pr 1:31). However, the Hebrew means rather "vexations," "calamities," which also the parallelism to "fears" requires; "choose their calamities" means, "choose the calamities which they thought to escape by their own ways."
their fears—the things they feared, to avert which their idolatrous "abominations" (Isa 66:3) were practised.
I called … none … answer—(See on Isa 65:12; Isa 65:24; Jer 7:13).
did … chose—not only did the evil deed, but did it deliberately as a matter of choice (Ro 1:32). "They chose that in which I delighted not"; therefore, "I will choose" that in which they delight not, the "calamities" and "fears" which they were most anxious to avert.
before mine eyes—(See on Isa 65:3).
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.
5. tremble at … word—the same persons as in Isa 66:2, the believing few among the Jews.
cast you out for my name's sake—excommunicate, as if too polluted to worship with them (Isa 65:5). So in Christ's first sojourn on earth (Mt 10:22; Joh 9:22, 34; 16:2; 15:21). So it shall be again in the last times, when the believing shall be few (Lu 18:8).
Let the Lord be glorified—the mocking challenge of the persecutors, as if their violence towards you was from zeal for God. "Let the Lord show Himself glorious," namely, by manifesting Himself in your behalf; as the parallelism to, "He shall appear to your joy," requires (as in Isa 5:19; compare Isa 28:15; 57:4). So again Christ on the cross (Mt 27:42, 43).
appear to your joy—giving you "joy" instead of your "rebuke" (Isa 25:8, 9).
A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.
6. God, from Jerusalem and His "temple," shall take vengeance on the enemy (Eze 43:1-8; Zec 12:2, 3; 14:3, 19-21). The abrupt language of this verse marks the suddenness with which God destroys the hostile Gentile host outside: as Isa 66:5 refers to the confounding of the unbelieving Jews.
voice of noise—that is, the Lord's loud-sounding voice (Ps 68:33; 29:3-9; 1Th 4:16).
Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
Before … travailed … brought forth—The accession of numbers, and of prosperity to her, shall be sudden beyond all expectation and unattended with painful effort (Isa 54:1, 4, 5). Contrast with this case of the future Jewish Church the travail-pains of the Christian Church in bringing forth "a man child" (Re 12:2, 5). A man child's birth is in the East a matter of special joy, while that of a female is not so; therefore, it here means the manly sons of the restored Jewish Church, the singular being used collectively for the plural: or the many sons being regarded as one under Messiah, who shall then be manifested as their one representative Head.
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.
8. earth—rather, to suit the parallelism, "is a country (put for the people in it) brought forth in one day?" [Lowth]. In English Version it means, The earth brings forth its productions gradually, not in one day (Mr 4:28).
at once—In this case, contrary to the usual growth of the nations by degrees, Israel starts into maturity at once.
for—rather, "is a nation born at once, that Zion has, so soon as she travailed, brought forth?" [Maurer].
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.
9. cause to bring forth, and shut—rather, "Shall I who beget, restrain the birth?" [Lowth], (Isa 37:3; Ho 13:13); that is, Shall I who have begun, not finish My work of restoring Israel? (1Sa 3:12; Ro 11:1; Php 1:6).
shut—(compare Re 3:7, 8).
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:
10. love … mourn for her—(Ps 102:14, 17, 20; 122:6).
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.
11. suck—(Isa 60:5, 16; 61:6; 49:23).
abundance—Hebrew, "the ray-like flow of her opulence," that is, with the milk spouting out from her full breasts (answering to the parallel, "breast of her consolations") in ray-like streams [Gesenius].
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.
12. extend—I will turn peace (prosperity) upon her, like a river turned in its course [Gesenius]. Or, "I will spread peace over her as an overflowing river" [Barnes], (Isa 48:18).
flowing stream—as the Nile by its overflow fertilizes the whole of Egypt.
borne upon … sides—(See on Isa 60:4).
her … her—If "ye" refers to the Jews, translate, "ye shall be borne upon their sides … their knees," namely, those of the Gentiles, as in Isa 49:22; and as "suck" (Isa 60:16) refers to the Jews sucking the Gentile wealth. However, English Version gives a good sense: The Jews, and all who love Jehovah (Isa 66:10), "shall suck, and be borne" by her as a mother.
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
13. mother—(Isa 49:15).
comforteth—(Isa 40:1, 2).
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.
14. bones—which once were "dried up" by the "fire" of God's wrath (La 1:13), shall live again (Pr 3:8; 15:30; Eze 37:1, &c.).
flourish … herb—(Ro 11:15-24).
known toward—manifested in behalf of.
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.
15. (Isa 9:5; Ps 50:3; Hab 3:5; 2Th 1:8; 2Pe 3:7).
chariots … whirlwind—(Jer 4:13).
render—as the Hebrew elsewhere (Job 9:13; Ps 78:38) means to "allay" or "stay wrath." Maurer translates it so here: He stays His anger with nothing but fury," &c.; nothing short of pouring out all His fiery fury will satisfy His wrath.
fury—"burning heat" [Lowth], to which the parallel, "flames of fire," answers.
For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
16. Rather, "With fire will Jehovah judge, and with His sword (He will judge) all flesh." The parallelism and collocation of the Hebrew words favor this (Isa 65:12).
all flesh—that is, all who are the objects of His wrath. The godly shall be hidden by the Lord in a place of safety away from the scene of judgment (Isa 26:20, 21; Ps 31:20; 1Th 4:16, 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.
17. in … gardens—Hebrew and the Septuagint rather require, "for (entering into) gardens," namely, to sacrifice there [Maurer].
behind one tree—rather, "following one," that is, some idol or other, which, from contempt, he does not name [Maurer]. Vitringa, &c., think the Hebrew for "one," Ahhadh, to be the name of the god; called Adad (meaning One) in Syria (compare Ac 17:23). The idol's power was represented by inclined rays, as of the sun shining on the earth. Gesenius translates, "following one," namely, Hierophant ("priest"), who led the rest in performing the sacred rites.
in … midst—namely, of the garden (see on Isa 65:3, 4).
mouse—legally unclean (Le 11:29) because it was an idol to the heathen (see on Isa 37:36; 1Sa 6:4). Translate, "the field mouse," or "dormouse" [Bochart]. The Pharisees with their self-righteous purifications, and all mere formalists, are included in the same condemnation, described in language taken from the idolatries prevalent in Isaiah's times.
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.
18. know—not in the Hebrew. Rather, understand the words by aposiopesis; it is usual in threats to leave the persons threatened to supply the hiatus from their own fears, owing to conscious guilt: "For I … their works and thoughts," &c.; namely, will punish [Maurer].
it shall come—the time is come that I will, &c. [Maurer].
gather … nations—against Jerusalem, where the ungodly Jews shall perish; and then the Lord at last shall fight for Jerusalem against those nations: and the survivors (Isa 66:19) shall "see God's glory" (Zec 12:8, 9; 14:1-3, 9).
tongues—which have been many owing to sin, being confounded at Babel, but which shall again be one in Christ (Da 7:14; Zep 3:9; Re 7:9, 10).
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.
19. sign—a banner on a high place, to indicate the place of meeting for the dispersed Jewish exiles, preparatory to their return to their land (Isa 5:26; 11:12; 62:10).
those that escape of them—the Gentile survivors spared by God (see on Isa 66:18; Zec 14:16). Isa 2:2, 3; Mic 5:7; and Zec 14:16-19 represent it, not that the Jews go as missionaries to the Gentiles, but that the Gentiles come up to Jerusalem to learn the Lord's ways there.
Tarshish—Tartessus in Spain, in the west.
Pul—east and north of Africa: probably the same as Phil�, an island in the Nile, called by the Egyptians Pilak, that is, the border country, being between Egypt and Ethiopia [Bochart].
Lud—the Libyans of Africa (Ge 10:13), Ludim being son of Mizraim (Egypt): an Ethiopian people famous as bowmen (Jer 46:9): employed as mercenaries by Tyre and Egypt (Eze 27:10; 30:5).
Tubal—Tibarenians, in Asia Minor, south of the Caucasus, between the Black Sea and Araxes. Or, the Iberians [Josephus]. Italy [Jerome].
Javan—the Greeks; called Ionians, including all the descendants of Javan, both in Greece and in Asia Minor (Ge 10:2-4).
my glory … Gentiles—(Mal 1:11).
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.
20. they—the Gentiles (Isa 66:19).
bring … your brethren—the Jews, back to the Holy Land (Isa 49:22). It cannot mean the mere entrance of the Jews into the Christian Church; for such an entrance would be by faith, not upon "horses, litters, and mules" [Houbigant]. "Offering" is metaphorical, as in Ro 15:16.
horses—not much used by the Jews. The Gentiles are here represented as using their modes of conveyance to "bring" the Jews to Jerusalem.
chariots—as these are not found in Oriental caravans, translate, "vehicles," namely, borne, not drawn on wheels.
litters—covered sedans for the rich.
upon swift beasts—dromedaries: from Hebrew root, "to dance," from their bounding motion, often accelerated by music [Bochart]. Panniers were thrown across the dromedaries' back for poorer women [Horsley].
And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.
21. of them—the Gentiles.
priests … Levites—for spiritual worship: enjoying the direct access to God which was formerly enjoyed by the ministers of the temple alone (1Pe 2:9; Re 1:6).
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.
22. (Isa 65:17; 2Pe 3:13; Re 21:1).
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.
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).
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.
24. go forth, and look—as the Israelites looked at the carcasses of the Egyptians destroyed at the Red Sea (Ex 14:30; compare Isa 26:14-19; Ps 58:10; 49:14; Mal 4:1-3).
carcasses, &c.—(Isa 66:16), those slain by the Lord in the last great battle near Jerusalem (Zec 12:2-9; 14:2-4); type of the final destruction of all sinners.
worm … not die—(Mr 9:44, 46, 48). Image of hell, from bodies left unburied in the valley of Hinnom (whence comes Gehenna, or "hell"), south of Jerusalem, where a perpetual fire was kept to consume the refuse thrown there (Isa 30:33). It shall not be inconsistent with true love for the godly to look with satisfaction on God's vengeance on the wicked (Re 14:10). May God bless this Commentary, and especially its solemn close, to His glory, and to the edification of the writer and the readers of it, for Jesus' sake!