Isaiah 66:18 Commentaries: "For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory.
Isaiah 66:18
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) For I know their works . . .—The Hebrew has no verb, either—as in the Quos ego . . . of Virgil, Æn., 1:139—for the sake of emphasis, or through an accidental omission in transcription. I know is supplied by many versions and commentators; I will punish or I have seen by others. The thought, in any case, is that the eye of Jehovah sees the evil things that are done in the secret places, caves or groves, in which the heathen rites were celebrated.

All nations and tongues . . .—The phrase, though not incompatible with Isaiah’s authorship, is specially characteristic of the prophets of the Exile (Daniel 3:4; Daniel 3:7; Daniel 3:29; Daniel 4:1; Zechariah 8:23).

They shall come, and see my glory.—The “glory” in the prophet’s thoughts is that of Jehovah manifested in His righteous judgments on open enemies and concealed apostates.

Isaiah 66:18-20. For I know their works and their thoughts — Of idolatry, superstition, and other wickedness. The word know not being in the Hebrew, some apply the ellipsis thus: I have observed their works, &c. Others consider the clause as a question, and read, Should I endure their works, &c.? No: it shall come, that I will gather, &c. — My threatened judgments shall come upon them, and I will gather all nations and tongues to see my glorious holiness and justice manifested in their punishment. Or the sense may be, Because I know and will no longer bear with their works, therefore it shall come to pass that I will cast them off, and then I will gather all nations, &c. — That is, take the Gentiles to be my people in their stead. This sense of the clause agrees well with what follows. And they shall see my glory — My oracles, my holy institutions and ordinances, which hitherto have been locked up in the church of the Jews, and have been their glory, shall be published to the Gentiles, Psalm 97:6; and Isaiah 40:5. And I will set a sign among them — It is agreed by all, that this is a prophecy concerning the conversion of the Gentiles. By a sign here some understand an ensign, as the word אותsignifies, Psalm 74:4, which is a military sign, to gather people together, to which, as is promised Isaiah 11:12, the Gentiles shall seek. The preaching of the word seems to be intended, accompanied with miracles called signs, or followed by some distinguishing providence, whereby they should be preserved from the common destruction. And I will send those that escape of them unto the nations — Those few Jews who, being converted to the Christian faith, escaped the national impenitence and unbelief, and the common destruction of the nation; and many of them, the apostles in particular, shall be employed in all parts of the world, for the conversion of others, Matthew 28:19; Acts 13:46. Tarshish, Pul, Lud, and the other places here mentioned, are intended to signify the different quarters of the world into which the gospel would be sent. And they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles — The glorious riches of my grace in Christ. And they shall bring all your brethren, &c. — The apostles and gospel ministers thus sent abroad shall bring the converts of the Gentiles, who are your brethren in Christ, (Galatians 3:28,) Abraham’s spiritual seed; for an offering unto the Lord — Who will have no more offerings of bullocks, or rams, or lambs, but will have men and women, reasonable oblations, Romans 12:1. He will particularly have the offering up of the Gentiles, which shall be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, Romans 15:16. Upon horses and in chariots, &c. — That is, by every method of conveyance then in use. To my holy mountain, Jerusalem — That is, to the Christian Church, typified by Jerusalem. As the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel — These converted Gentiles shall be a holy people, and therefore acceptable to God.66:15-24 A prophetic declaration is given of the Lord's vengeance on all enemies of his church, especially that of all antichristian opposers of the gospel in the latter days. Ver.For I know their works - The word 'know,' says Lowth, is here evidently left out of the Hebrew text, leaving the sense quite imperfect. It is found in the Syriac; the Chaldee evidently had that word in the copy of the Hebrew which was used; and the Aldine and Complutensian editions of the Septuagint have the word. Its insertion is necessary in order to complete the sense; though the proof is not clear that the word was ever in the Hebrew text. The sense is, that though their abominable rites were celebrated in the deepest recesses of the groves, yet they were not concealed from God.

That I will gather all nations and tongues - They who speak all languages (compare Revelation 7:9; Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:9). The sense is, that the period would come when Yahweh would collect all nations to witness the execution of his vengeance on his foes.

And see my glory - That is, the manifestation of my perfections in the great events referred to here - the destruction of his enemies, and the deliverance of his people. To what particular period this refers has been a point on which expositors are by no means agreed. Grotius says it means, that such shall be the glory of the Jewish people that all nations shall desire to come and make a covenant with them. The Jewish interpreters, and among them Abarbanel (see Vitringa), suppose that it refers to a hostile and warlike assembling of all nations in the time of the Messiah, who, say they, shall attack Jerusalem with the Messiah in it, and shall be defeated. They mention particularly that the Turks and Christians shall make war on Jerusalem and on the true Messiah, but that they shall be overthrown. Vitringa supposes that it refers to the assembling of the nations when the gospel should be at first proclaimed, and when they should be called into the kingdom of God. Many of the fathers referred it to the final judgment. It is difficult to determine, amidst this variety of opinion, what is the true meaning. Opinions are easily given, and conjectures are easily made; and the opinions referred to above are entitled to little more than the appellation of conjecture. It seems to me, that there is involved here the idea of the judgment or punishment on the enemies of God, and at about the same time a collecting of the nations not only to witness the punishment, but also to become participants of his favor. In some future time, Yahweh would manifest himself as the punisher of his enemies, and all the nations also would be permitted to behold his glory, as if they were assembled together.

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).

The Hebrew is thus word for word. And I their works, and their thoughts, coming together all nations and languages, and they shall come and see my glory. So that it is necessary for interpreters to supply some words to make out the sense. And the sense will differ according to the nature and sense of those supplied words. We supply the verb know, as Amos 5:12; others supply. I have noted. Others make it a question; And I, should I endure their thoughts and their works? Others, But as for me, oh their works and their thoughts! Some make these words, for I know their works and their thoughts it shall come, one sentence, and to relate to the judgments before threatened, Isaiah 66:15,16, and the latter words a new sentence, and a promise of the call of the Gentiles. If we thus divide the words into two sentences, the former part doth but assert the certainty of the judgment that should come upon this people, and the confirmation or reason of it from the omniscience and justice of God. They have done these things, and I know it, and am of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. I know I have marked their thoughts and works (before mentioned). Oh the vileness of them! Should I suffer, should I endure them? No. It shall come; either the judgments before threatened shall come; or it shall come to pass, that I will cast them off, and then

I will gather all nations, & c. So it shall come may either refer to the threatening of judgments in the former part, or the promise of calling the Gentiles in the latter part of the verse. Others make the verse one entire sentence, and the sense thus, Seeing I know their works, &c., or when the time shall come that I shall let them by my vengeance know that I know their works, I will gather all nations and languages. I will gather all nations, I will call the Gentiles into my church, and they shall see my glory; my oracles, my holy institutions and ordinances, which hitherto have been locked up in the church of the Jews, Romans 3:2, and been their glory, shall be published to the Gentiles, Psalm 97:6 Isaiah 40:5. For I know their works, and their thoughts,.... That is, of the persons before described; their evil works and thoughts, which are known to Christ the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, whose eyes are as a flame of fire to pierce and penetrate into them, Revelation 2:18 or, "as for me (l), their works and their thoughts"; as I know them, and abhor them, I will take vengeance on them for them, for what they have devised and done against me and mine: "and it shall come"; that is, it shall come to pass, or the time shall come:

that I will gather all nations and tongues; not against Jerusalem in the war of Gog and Magog, as the Jewish commentators, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it, illustrating it by Zechariah 14:2 but to Christ and his church, by the preaching of the Gospel; which in the latter day will be published to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and that immediately upon the destruction of both the western and eastern antichrists; and particularly, by the means of the latter, way will be made for it into the kingdoms of the east, which thereby will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, Revelation 14:6,

and they shall come and see my glory; the glory of Christ's person, offices, and grace; the glory of his Gospel, worship, and ordinances; the glory that will be upon Zion the church, and on all which there will be a defence, and a glorious sight it will be; see Isaiah 4:5.

(l) "ad me vero quod attinet", Piscator, De Dieu, Cocceius, Vitringa.

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 {t} glory.

(t) The Gentiles will be partakers of that glory, which before I showed to the Jews.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18–22. The extension of the knowledge of Jehovah’s power to the outlying nations, and the consequent voluntary surrender of the Israelites exiled among them.

The first sentence of Isaiah 66:18 is untranslatable as it stands, and the text is certainly corrupt. A good suggestion is made by Duhm. He transfers the phrase “their works and their thoughts” to the last clause of Isaiah 66:17 (“their works and their thoughts together shall come to an end”); then dropping the fem. term. of the participle the remaining sentence reads, And I am coming to gather all the nations and tongues. Both verses are thus improved, and the new section beginning here is disentangled from its misleading association with the idea of judgement.

all nations and tongues] An expression characteristic of the Aramaic part of the Book of Daniel (ch. Isaiah 3:4 and parallels); cf. also Zechariah 8:23.

they shall come, and see my glory] i.e., probably, the visible supernatural glory of Jehovah as He dwells in the Temple. See Ezekiel 43:1-4. (The section contains many traces of the influence of the book of Ezekiel.) The idea that the nations shall assemble to be destroyed by Jehovah (Zechariah 14:2; Zechariah 14:12 ff.; Joel 3:2; Zephaniah 3:8) is alien to the tenor of the verse and is not necessarily implied by Isaiah 66:19.Verse 18. - For I know their works. There is no verb in the Hebrew text, from which something has evidently fallen out. Mr. Cheyne supplies, "I will punish;" Gratz, "I have seen." "I know" is supported by the Targums, the Syriac Version, several manuscripts of the Septuagint, and the authorities of Saadiya, Vitringa, and Gesenius. And their thoughts; i.e. I know, not only their works, but even the thoughts from which the works proceeded. It shall some; i.e. "the time shall come." (For the full phrase, see Jeremiah 51:33; Ezekiel 7:7, 12.) All nations and tongues. This expression has been corn-pared with Daniel's "kindreds and nations and languages" (Daniel 3:4, 7, 29; Daniel 4:1; Daniel 5:19, etc.), and has been regarded as a sign of late authorship. But "nations' and "tongues" are coupled together in Scripture as early as Genesis (Genesis 10:5, 20). They shall come, and see my glory; i.e. "see the glory that I shall get me upon my enemies" (vers. 15-17). The reason is now given, why the church of the future promises such abundant enjoyment to those who have suffered with her. "For thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I guide peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like an overflowing stream, that ye may suck; ye shall be borne upon arms, and fondled upon knees." Jehovah guides or turns (Genesis 39:21) peace to Jerusalem, the greatest of all inward blessings, and at the same time the most glorious of all the outward blessings, that are in the possession of the Gentile world (kâbhōd as in Isaiah 56:6), both of them in the richest superabundance ("like a river," as in Isaiah 48:18), so that (perf. cons.) "ye may be able to suck yourselves full according to your heart's desire" (Isaiah 60:16). The figure of the new maternity of Zion, and of her children as quasimodogeniti, is still preserved. The members of the church can then revel in peace and wealth, like a child at its mother's breasts. The world is now altogether in the possession of the church, because the church is altogether God's. The allusion to the heathen leads on to the thought, which was already expressed in a similar manner in Isaiah 49:22 and Isaiah 60:4 : "on the side (arm or shoulder) will ye be carried, and fondled (שׁעשׁע, pulpal of the pilpel שׁעשׁע, Isaiah 11:8) upon the knees," viz., by the heathen, who will vie with one another in the effort to show you tenderness and care (Isaiah 49:23).
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