Isaiah 66:2
For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
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(2) All those things . . .—The sequence of thought runs thus:—God, the Maker of the universe, can need nothing that belongs to it. The most stately temple is to Him as the infinitely little. What He does delight in is something which is generically different, the spiritual life which answers to His own, the “contrite heart,” which is the true correlative of His own holiness. He who offers that is a true worshipper, with or without the ritual of worship; in its absence, all worship is an abomination to the Eternal. Here 1 and 2 Isaiah are essentially one in teaching. (Comp. Isaiah 1:11-18; Isaiah 57:15.)

66:1-4 The Jews gloried much in their temple. But what satisfaction can the Eternal Mind take in a house made with men's hands? God has a heaven and an earth of his own making, and temples of man's making; but he overlooks them, that he may look with favour to him who is poor in spirit and serious, self-abasing and self-denying; whose heart truly sorrows for sin: such a heart is a living temple for God. The sacrifice of the wicked is not only unacceptable, but a great offence to God. And he that now offers a sacrifice after the law, does in effect set aside Christ's sacrifice. He that burns incense, puts contempt upon the incense of Christ's intercession, and is as if he blessed an idol. Men shall be deceived by the vain confidences with which they deceive themselves. Unbelieving hearts, and unpurified consciences, need no more to make them miserable, than to have their own fears brought upon them. Whatever men put in the place of the priesthood, atonement, and intercession of Christ, will be found hateful to God.For all those things hath mine hand made - That is the heaven and the earth, and all that is in them. The sense is, 'I have founded for myself a far more magnificent and appropriate temple than you can make; I have formed the heavens as my dwelling-place, and I need not a dwelling reared by the hand of man.'

And all those things have been - That is, have been made by me, or for me. The Septuagint renders it, 'All those things are mine?' Jerome renders it, 'All those things were made;' implying that God claimed to be the Creator of them all, and that, therefore, they all belonged to him.

But to this man will I look - That is, 'I prefer a humble heart and a contrite spirit to the most magnificent earthly temple' (see the notes at Isaiah 57:15).

That is poor - Or rather 'humble.' The word rendered 'poor' (עני ‛ânı̂y), denotes not one who has no property, but one who is down-trodden, crushed, afflicted, oppressed; often, as here, with the accessory idea of pious feeling Exodus 24:12; Psalm 10:2, Psalm 10:9. The Septuagint renders it, Ταπεινὸν Tapeinon - 'Humble;' not πτωχόν ptōchon (poor). The idea is, not that God looks with favor on a poor man merely because he is poor - which is not true, for his favors are not bestowed in view of external conditions in life - but that he regards with favor the man that is humble and subdued in spirit.

And of a contrite spirit - A spirit that is broken, crushed, or deeply affected by sin. It stands opposed to a spirit that is proud, haughty, self-confident, and self-righteous.

And that trembleth at my word - That fears me, or that reveres my commands.

2. have been—namely, made by Me. Or, absolutely, were things made; and therefore belong to Me, the Creator [Jerome].

look—have regard.

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).

For all those things hath my hand made; the heavens and the earth are the work of my hands, Genesis 1:1 John 1:3. (Some expound it of the temple and the sacrifices.)

All those things have been; they were not only made by God, but subsisted and were kept in being by him. These things were not therefore valued by him, nor could he have any need of or respect to any house, which is but a very little part of the earth; he having made the heavens and the earth, had all them at his command; and how could he need a temple, or wherein could he be advantaged from it? But God will look with a respect, and with a favourable eye, to him that hath

a broken and contrite spirit, whose heart is subdued to the will of God, and who is poor and low in his own eyes, Matthew 5:3 Luke 6:20, and who trembleth when he heareth God’s threatening words, nor ever heareth any revelation of the Divine will without a just reverence. For all those things hath mine hand made,.... The heavens and the earth, which are his throne and footstool; and therefore, since he is the Creator of all things, he must be immense, omnipresent, and cannot be included in any space or place:

and all those things have been, saith the Lord; or "are" (l); they are in being, and continue, and will, being supported by the hand that made them; and what then can be made by a creature? or what house be built for God? or what need of any?

but to this man will I look. The Septuagint and Arabic versions read, by way of interrogation, "and to whom shall I look?" and so the Syriac version, which adds, "in whom shall I dwell?" not in temples made with hands; not in the temple of Jerusalem; but in the true tabernacle which God pitched, and not man; in Christ the antitypical temple, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and in whom Jehovah the Father dwells personally; see Hebrews 8:2 as also in every true believer, who is the temple of the living God, later described, for these words may both respect Christ and his members; the characters well agree with him:

even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word; Christ was poor literally, and his estate and condition in this world was very low and mean, 2 Corinthians 8:9, or "afflicted" (m), as some render it, as he was by God, and by men, and by devils; or "humble" (n), meek and lowly, as the Septuagint and Targum; it was foretold of him that he should be lowly; and this character abundantly appeared in him, Zechariah 9:9 and he was of a "contrite" or broken spirit, not only was his body broken, but his spirit also; not through a sense of sin, and consciousness of it, but through his sorrows and sufferings:

he also trembled at the word of God; that is, had a suitable and becoming reverence of it; it was at the word of the Lord he assumed human nature; and according as his Father taught, and gave him commandment, so he spake; and, agreeably to it, laid down his life, and became obedient to death: and now the Lord looks, to him; he looks to him as his own Son, with a look of love, and even as in human nature, and is well pleased with all he did and suffered in it; he looked to him as the surety of his people, for the payment of their debts, and the security and salvation of their persons; and he now looks to his obedience and righteousness, with which he is well pleased, and imputes it to his people, and to his blood, sacrifice, and satisfaction, on account of which he forgives their sins, and to his person for the acceptance of theirs; and he looks to them in him, and has a gracious regard for them: they also may be described as "poor"; poor in spirit, spiritually poor, as they see and own themselves to be, and seek to Christ for the riches of grace and glory, which they behold in him, and expect from him; and are both "afflicted and humble", and become the one by being the other;

and of a contrite spirit, their hard hearts being broken by the Spirit and word of God, and melted by the love and grace of God; and so contrite, not in a mere legal, but evangelical manner:

and such tremble at the Word of God; not at the threatenings of wrath in it, or in a servile slavish manner; but have a holy reverence for it (o), and receive it, not as the word of man, but as the word of God: and to such the Lord looks; he looks on these poor ones, and feeds them; on these afflicted ones, and sympathizes with them; on these contrite ones, and delights in their sacrifices, and dwells with them, and among them; see Psalm 51:17.

(l) sunt, Forerius, Gataker. (m) "ad afflictum", Pagninus, Montanus. (n) "Ad humilem", Calvin, Tigurine version, Vitringa; "qui est pauper vel humilis", Munster. (o) Gussetius observes, that the word does not design a mere trembling, but care, pains, and labour to serve, as one friend has for another; and, when applied to the service of God, is no other than a generous fear, flowing from love. Vid. Ebr. Comment. p. 285.

For all these things hath my hand made, {b} and all these things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of {c} a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

(b) Seeing that both the temple and the things in it, with the sacrifices were made and done by his appointment, he shows that he has no need of it, and that he can be without them, see Geneva Ps 50:10.

(c) To him that is humble and pure in heart, who receives my doctrine with reverence and fear.

2. all these things] i.e. the heavens and the earth, the whole visible creation. That the phrase refers to the Jewish community with its religious institutions (Duhm) is a thoroughly unnatural supposition. For have been read have come into being.

but to this man will I look (have regard) &c.] Cf. ch. Isaiah 57:15.

contrite is lit. “smitten”; it is the same word which is rendered “broken” or “wounded” (of the spirit) in Proverbs 15:13; Proverbs 17:22; Proverbs 18:14. In all the other passages where “contrite” is found in the E.V. (ch. Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17) it represents a formation from another root, meaning “to be crushed.”

trembleth at my word] Cf. Isaiah 66:5; Ezra 9:4; Ezra 10:3.

These two verses contain one of the most explicit declarations of the spirituality of religion to be found in the O.T., anticipating the principle enunciated by our Lord in John 4:24. It is not surprising that commentators have differed widely as to their precise significance in their present connexion. (1) The opinion of a few writers, that the prophet enters a protest against the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem and desiderates a pure spiritual worship without sanctuary or sacrifice, is quite untenable. It is certain that no conception that would lead to a disparaging estimate of the Temple and its services can be attributed either to the second Isaiah or to any of his successors. (see to the contrary, ch. Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 56:5; Isaiah 56:7, Isaiah 60:7, Isaiah 66:6; Isaiah 66:20 f. &c.) The idea suggested lies entirely beyond the most spiritual writers in the O.T.; and in the passages most nearly akin to this (e.g. Psalm 40:6; Psalm 50:8-15; Psalm 51:16 f.) there is no suggestion that a material sanctuary and ritual could be dispensed with. (2) Hitzig and some others have supposed a reference to a project entertained by some of the exiles to erect a Temple of Jehovah in Babylonia. Not only, however, is the assumption absolutely destitute of historical evidence, but it is almost incredible that such an intention should have entered the thoughts of any Jews in exile. (3) If the passage was written in the near prospect of a return to Palestine, there is but one explanation which is at all plausible. The prophet is thinking of the character of the mass of the people who are eagerly looking forward to the restoration of the national worship; and he warns them that Jehovah needs no temple, and that their whole service of Him will be vitiated by the want of a right religious disposition. In other words, the polemic is directed not against the existence of the Temple in itself, but against the building of it being undertaken by such men as those addressed. (4) If, on the other hand, the prophecy was written some time after the restoration, it seems impossible to evade the conclusion reached by Duhm and Cheyne, that the reference is to a design of the Samaritans to erect a rival temple to that of Jerusalem. This theory is perhaps less improbable than it may at first sight appear. In the first place we know that such a temple was actually erected on Mt. Gerizim some time after Nehemiah’s second reformation in Judæa (see Ryle’s note on Nehemiah 13:28); and it is to be supposed that the project had been talked of for some time previously. Nor is it any formidable objection to say that the argument here employed would tell equally against the pretensions of the sanctuary at Jerusalem. The prophet’s assertion must in any case be qualified by the fundamental principle of the Jewish religion that the validity of every act of worship rests on the positive enactment of Jehovah. While Jehovah needs no human service, He is graciously pleased to accept it if rendered in accordance with His expressed will. Now this sanction had been bestowed on the one sanctuary at Jerusalem, but could not possibly belong to any temple built elsewhere. The erection of such a temple could only be justified on the assumption that man could arbitrarily assign a dwelling-place to the Most High, and to show the futility of this assumption is the purpose of the prophet’s lofty declaration. The question turns largely on the interpretation of Isaiah 66:3. If that verse is rightly understood to mean that the worship of the parties spoken of was really infected by degrading superstitions, it may well be that the persons described are the Samaritans, and in that case it will follow almost of necessity that these are also addressed in Isaiah 66:1. At the same time, it must be admitted that if the erection of a schismatic Temple were referred to, we should have expected a much more explicit and vigorous condemnation of the project.Verse 2. - All these things - i.e. heaven and earth hath mine hand made; i.e. have I, Jehovah, brought into existence. How, then, can I need that men should build me a house? All these things have been, saith the Lord. The sentence seems incomplete. Mr. Cheyne supplies, "I spoke." The sentence will then run, "I spoke, and all these things crone into being, saith Jehovah;" i.e. heaven and earth, and all things that are therein, came into being at my word (comp. Genesis 1:1; Genesis 2:1). But to this man will I look; i.e. though I have made all things and all men, I will not equally regard all. Him only will I respect who is of a poor and contrite spirit, etc. (comp. Isaiah 57:15). In the place of the threatened curses of the law in Leviticus 26:16 (cf., Deuteronomy 28:30), the very opposite will now receive their fullest realization. "And they will build houses and inhabit them, and plant vineyards and enjoy the fruit thereof. They will not build and another inhabit, nor plant and another enjoy; for like the days of trees are the days of my people, ad my chosen ones will consume the work of their hands. They will not weary themselves in vain, nor bring forth for sudden disaster; for they are a family of the blessed of Jehovah, and their offspring are left to them." They themselves will enjoy what they have worked for, without some one else stepping in, whether a countryman by violence or inheritance, or a foreigner by plunder or conquest (Isaiah 62:8), to take possession of that which they have built and planted (read יטעוּ without dagesh); for the duration of their life will be as great as that of trees (i.e., of oaks, terebinths, and cedars, which live for centuries), and thus they will be able thoroughly to enjoy in their own person what their hands have made. Billâh does not mean merely to use and enjoy, but to use up and consume. Work and generation will be blessed then, and there will be no more disappointed hopes. They will not weary themselves (יגעוּ with a preformative י without that of the root) for failure, not get children labbehâlâh, i.e., for some calamity to fall suddenly upon them and carry them away (Leviticus 26:16, cf., Psalm 78:33). The primary idea of bâhal is either acting, permitting, or bearing, with the characteristic of being let loose, of suddenness, of overthrow, or of throwing into confusion. The lxx renders it εἰς κατάραν, probably according to the Egypto-Jewish usage, in which behâlâh may have signified cursing, like bahle, buhle in the Arabic (see the Appendices). The two clauses of the explanation which follows stand in a reciprocal relation to the two clauses of the previous promise. They are a family of the blessed of God, upon whose labour the blessing of God rests, and their offspring are with them, without being lost to them by premature death. This is the true meaning, as in Job 21:8, and not "their offspring with them," i.e., in like manner, as Hitzig supposes.
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