New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

Isaiah 66:1 Thus says Yahweh, Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: what kind of house will you build to Me? And what place shall be My rest?- LXX "And of what kind is to be the place of my rest?". See on Ps. 132:8. The answer was that God recognized that the idea of a reestablished Kingdom and temple wasn't going to happen with the restored exiles, and instead He was going to focus upon dwelling in the hearts of humble individual hearts.

Is. 11:10 had spoken of how the Messianic figure possible at Isaiah's time could have restored the Kingdom, "And his resting place will be glorious". This could simply refer to a literal appearance of glory upon mount Zion, as hinted at in several prophecies. But this was precluded at the time by Judah refusing this "rest" (Is. 28:12 s.w.). Or His resting place could be the hearts of those who "trust" in Him (Is. 11:10), a resting place chosen by Him because the temple on Zion had not been rebuilt as required and therefore God chose to dwell in the hearts of individuals instead.


Much of the later chapters of Isaiah speaks of the faithful remnant in Babylon. The prayers and thoughts of that faithful minority often surface- e.g. “Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy peace?” (Is. 64:12; Is. 62:1). Thus they fulfilled the prophecy that Zion’s watchmen would give God no rest (Is. 62:6,7). But overall, the poor response of Judah seems to have led God to abandon the plan for the gloriously rebuilt Messianic temple. Is. 66:1,2 records Him reflecting that “Where is the house that ye build unto me?” [i.e. they had not built it as He required in Ez. 40-48], and instead deciding to focus on dwelling in the hearts of the contrite faithful minority who trembled at His word. Ezekiel was sent to preach to the early captives, with the message that they were responsible personally for their exile- even though they insisted they were innocent and were suffering unjustly for their fathers' sins. Ezekiel 18 and other passages labour the point that they personally, sitting their in captivity, were serious sinners. God even warned Ezekiel ahead of time that those captives were "a rebellious nation" (Ez. 2:3), just as wicked as their fathers. There was active opposition to Ezekiel's witness to the exiles- they persecuted him as with "briars and thorns", behaving as scorpions to him (Ez. 2:6). His face had to be hardened against their faces (Ez. 3:8). This was in the very early days of the exile. Jewish tradition has it that Ezekiel was murdered at the command of senior Jews in Babylon. See The Lives And Deaths Of The Prophets in J.H. Charlesworth, ed., Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1985). The same book claims that Isaiah was sawn in two by Manasseh, and Jeremiah was stoned to death by the Jews.. By the time of Isaiah 66, we see that even well after the restoration had happened, there was still major persecution of the faithful remnant and their prophets. Thus Isaiah speaks of the reapplication of the promises about building a temple- that temple would now be in the individual lives of a faithful remnant. Zech. 4:7 had prophesied that if Zerubbabel lived up to his potential, then a flat tableland would be prepared as a "platform" [Heb.] on which the new temple could be built. But this didn't happen- and so this language was reapplied to the work of John the Baptist in making the rough places of men's hearts smooth, in order for them to accept Jesus, the true temple.

Isaiah 66:2 For all these things has My hand made, and so all these things came to be, says Yahweh-
The contrast is between what God has made, and the man who trembles at God’s word. It’s as if God is searching for something which He Himself has not created, in the sense that He created the physical world. Perhaps the implication is that when a human being responds to the word of God, then there begins a totally free creation by the believer in his or her own life. God in one sense is the author of the new creation of human hearts- and yet the parallelism in Is. 66:2 seems to imply that the difference between us and the natural creation is that we are in some sense not created by God in that same way, but rather have we allowed God’s word to mould us as, and to respond to that word, in ways which we have control over… and thus we offer ourselves to God as a creation which we have made, and in which He thereby takes extra pleasure.

But to this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a broken spirit, and who trembles at My word- "Poor" is the word usually translated "afflicted". Isaiah's prophecies continually emphasize that God is fully aware of their "affliction" at the hands of the Babylonians, and would have mercy upon them in it (Is. 49:13; 51:21; 54:11 s.w.). Remember that these words were primarily addressed to the exiles. It was the poor who were to enthuse about the reestablishment of Zion (Is. 14:32; 41:17; 54:11 s.w.). The book of Esther makes clear that there were many wealthy Jews in Babylon / Persia. It was the simple pull of materialism which kept many of them from responding to the Gospel of quitting all that for the sake of the restored Kingdom of God. And it is the same today where "to the poor the Gospel is preached" with most response.

Is. 66:1-5 seems to anticipate that the actual rebuilding of the temple would be nullified by an incorrect attitude to the sacrifices, and more important would it be that individuals in Judah trembled at God’s word. The Jews did tremble at the word at the beginning of the rebuilding (Ezra 10:9). But it was a momentary thing; they came to see the building of the walls as more important than keeping a trembling spirit. Works eclipsed spirituality. Yet Isaiah had taught that the trembling at the word was more essentially important than building temples. But Judah paid no attention in the long term. So these verses speak of God's change of purpose after the failure of the exiles to restore the Kingdom as intended. The idea could be that God is here asking His people to not bother trying to build the temple, and stating that He will now focus upon individual relationships with humble minded individuals, through His Messiah Son who trembled at His word.

Isaiah 66:3 He who kills an ox is as he who kills a man-
The man under the Old Covenant who made his offering of, e.g. an ox, at a place other than at "the door of the tabernacle of the congregation" was viewed as having shed blood and therefore was to be cut off from the congregation (Lev. 17:3,4). The Law foresaw that there would be this tendency, to worship God away from the rest of the congregation. Those who did so were condemned in the strongest terms: their sacrifice of an animal was seen as the murder of their brother, whereas they would have seen it as an expression of their righteousness. "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man" (Is. 66:3) refers back to this, making it parallel with idolatry and proudly refusing to let God's word dwell in the heart. Later Isaiah is criticizing the exiles in Babylon for their refusal to 'return', both to their God and to their land. Perhaps in view is their attempt to offer sacrifices in Babylon, away from the sanctuary.   


He who sacrifices a lamb, as he who breaks a dog’s neck; he who offers an offering, as he who offers pig’s blood; he who burns frankincense, as he who blesses an idol. Yes, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations- What is criticized in later Israel is the tendency to worship Yahweh through offerings to Yahweh (even though they had no temple or sanctioned sanctuary), whilst at the same time as offering sacrifice to other gods. Is. 66:3 speaks of this dualism in worship. An ox was sacrificed to Yahweh whilst a man child was killed in worship of the idols; a lamb was slain as a dog was struck down to an idol; an offering was brought to Yahweh as pig flesh was eaten in an idol ritual; incense was offered to Yahweh, suggesting this happened within the temple precincts, whilst idols were kissed. And the new Israel made just this same blasphemy in the way some in the Corinth ecclesia ate of the Lord's table and also at the table of idols ["demons"]. Paul wasn't slow to bring out the similarities when he wrote to the Corinthians. It is this kind of dualism which is so wrong; to be both Christian and non-Christian at the same time, to mix the two. But differences of interpretation between equally dedicated worshippers of Yahweh, or believers in Christ, were never made the basis of condemnation. We note that the apostate exiles in Babylon still felt the need to sacrifice to Yahweh, even though they worshipped idols; such is the strength of the culture of traditional religion. And we have that same pull within our own psychological wiring.

Isaiah 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears on them; because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they didn’t listen; but they did that which was evil in My eyes-
God deceived prophets to speak things in His Name which were actually false (1 Kings 22:20-22; Ez. 14:9). He chose Israel's delusions by making their idols answer them (Is. 66:3,4). Jeremiah feared God had deceived him (Jer. 20:7)- showing he knew such a thing was possible. Dt. 13:1-3 warns Israel not to believe prophets whose prophecies came true although they taught false doctrines, because they may have been raised up to test their obedience. God deceived Israel by telling them about the peace which would come on Jerusalem in the future Kingdom; they didn't consider the other prophecies which were given at the same time concerning their imminent judgment, and therefore they thought that God was pleased with them and was about to establish the Messianic Kingdom; when actually the very opposite was about to happen (Jer.  4:10). This is why the Bible is confusing to those who wish to believe their word rather than God's. God had called them back to Zion, and they had refused to respond. They preferred to worship their idols in the name of Yahweh worship; and so God confirmed them in those delusions.

And chose that in which I didn’t delight- The context is their choice of sacrificing to idols; but in Is. 1:11 the same term is used of God's lack of delight in the sacrifices offered to Him. It seems that they worshipped the idols in the name of Yahweh worship. And this is an abiding temptation for all God's children- to worship our idols in the name of worshipping God.

Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of Yahweh, you who tremble at His word-
The double reference in Is. 66:1-5 to trembling at Yahweh’s word is a definite prediction of the situation in Ezra 9:4; 10:3, where the same rare Hebrew word is used regarding how those of the exiles who repented for their marriage out of the Faith trembled before the word in repentance. Then, at that point, the Kingdom blessings could have been brought about, as described in the rest of Is. 66. But again, there was no staying power in their repentance. By Nehemiah’s time, and by Malachi’s time even after his, marriage out of the Faith was still their weakness.  


Your brothers who hate you, who cast you out for My name’s sake, have said, ‘Let Yahweh be glorified, that we may see your joy;’ but it is those who shall be disappointed- See on :24. The religious leadership used the old argument of exclusionists- that Yahweh's Name will be glorified through separation from those considered substandard or spiritually different within the community of believers. The faithful remnant were therefore disfellowshipped by the corrupt religious leadership of the Jews in Babylon; see on Is. 65:5. And for this they would face the shame (s.w. "disappointed") of condemnation. Such behaviour provokes the intense anger of Yahweh.

Isaiah 66:6 A voice of tumult from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of Yahweh that renders recompense to His enemies-
The enemies of the humble, excluded believers (:5) were Yahweh's enemies. He was identified with those humble, excluded ones. The city and temple which they had refused to return to was to the source of this Divine voice of judgment against them in Babylon. The city and temple would be restored, and from there would come judgment against these awful hypocrites.

Isaiah 66:7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she delivered a son-
The idea is more or less as in GNB "My holy city is like a woman who suddenly gives birth to a child without ever going into labor". The implication is that the final travail or birth pangs of God's faithful people will be cut short in the last days (Mt. 24:22). This "son" who suddenly appears in Zion will utter the voice of Yahweh which judges the hypocrites amongst His people (:6). Ultimately this is speaking of the revelation of God's Son, the Lord Jesus, after the travail of the faithful daughter of Zion is cut short by His grace. 

Isaiah 66:8 Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children-
As explained on :7, a singular "son" was to be brought forth after the travail of the faithful daughter of Zion is cut short. But here we find that this son is in fact plural "children", an entire nation with their own land. The restored people of God in their restored land, the Kingdom of God on earth, would be suddenly brought forth out of the sufferings of the faithful minority in Zion. Whatever primary application this could have had to Hezekiah's time and other sufferings of Zion, the ultimate application is to the appearance of the Lord Jesus and a new nation "in Him" after the sufferings of Zion, geographically and spiritually, shall be cut short by grace (Mt. 24:22).

Isaiah 66:9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? says Yahweh: shall I who cause to bring forth shut the womb? says your God-
This can be read as an implicit criticism of the words of Hezekiah at the time of the Assyrian invasion, who lamented that the children had come to be born but there was no strength to bring them forth (Is. 37:3). God is saying that He will certainly bring forth the new nation of Zion out of their trauma at the hands of their invaders. He is not powerless, and therefore Hezekiah was wrong to imply this. Why the children were not brought forth at Hezekiah's time was because of the lack of spirituality in the daughter of Zion, rather than because of God's limited ability.  

Isaiah 66:10 Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn over her
- LXX has in view the people of Jerusalem rejoicing along with the Gentiles in a Divine feast in the last day, the marriage supper of the lamb: "Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and all ye that love her hold in her a general assembly". This Divine rejoicing over God's people is that of the God who rejoices in fulfilling His covenant with His obedient people (Dt. 28:63; 30:9); and the Gentiles who now love Zion will join in with it (:11). It will be a mutual joy, with Yahweh's people rejoicing in Him (:18; s.w. Is. 61:10; 65:18) and He in them (Is. 62:5; 65:19) because they have entered the new marriage covenant with Him (Jer. 32:41).

Isaiah 66:11 That you may nurse and be satisfied at the comforting breasts; that you may drink deeply, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory-
This continues the image of Zion's sufferings bringing forth a new nation (:8,9). Just as a newborn baby is immediately nursed at the breast by the mother, so these Gentile converts would be. The implication is that the new nation of Yahweh brought forth is multiethnic.

Isaiah 66:12 For thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream: and you will be nursed. You will be carried on her side, and will be dandled on her knees-
LXX suggests that the nations would come to Zion carrying the children of the repentant Israelites: "their children shall be borne upon the shoulders, and comforted on the knees". This is in view in other restoration prophecies; the idea was that the fall of Babylon would elicit repentance and migration to Zion, not only of the Jews but of the peoples amongst whom they lived, after the pattern of Egyptians joining in with the exodus. See on :11. But the ambiguity of the text is intentional; the Gentiles would nurse the children of Israel, and Israel would nurse the Gentiles (:11). This reflects the unity of Jew and Gentile within this new nation, which is to come forth from the sufferings of Zion in the last days.

Isaiah 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted in Jerusalem-
The "comfort" continues the picture of a newborn baby being nursed at the breast of the mother. God Himself likens Himself to a nursing mother, an unusual and radical figure in the male-dominated culture of the time. But this "comfort" was offered to the exiles in Is. 40:1; but they then refused it. Finally it will be accepted, and even now it can be experienced through acceptance of the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, given to all who accept the new covenant.

Isaiah 66:14 You will see it, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like the tender grass-
The dry bones of Ez. 37 will now flourish, because the wind of the Spirit of the new covenant is breathed into them, and they accept it. This could have happened at the restoration from Babylon, but is now reapplied to the final revival of God's people.


And the hand of Yahweh shall be known toward His servants; He will have indignation against His enemies- To know Yahweh's hand is to recognize His hand in the sense of His power and ability; and "His enemies" will know this also, through their experience of final condemnation (s.w. Jer. 16:21; Ps. 109:27). The physical restoration of Zion and the Kingdom would likewise make His hand known to His servants (s.w. Is. 41:20). If all are to "know" Yahweh finally, either through salvation by grace or through condemnation- we logically must know Him now, with all that having relationship with Him implies and demands ['knowing' in the Hebraic sense].


Isaiah 66:15 For behold, Yahweh will come with fire, and His chariots shall be like the whirlwind; to render His anger with fierceness, and His rebuke with flames of fire-
This would perhaps initially have been fulfilled through the cherubim returning to Jerusalem, as envisioned by Ezekiel- fire, chariots, whirlwind is all cherubim language. That didn't happen because God's people didn't "return" to Him, and so this full "return" didn't then happen. But it will come the more gloriously true in the last days, when the Lord Jesus returns in flaming fire taking vengeance (2 Thess. 1:8). See on :18.

Isaiah 66:16 For by fire and by His sword will Yahweh plead judgement on all flesh; and the slain of Yahweh shall be many-
The sword of Yahweh will come down in judgment upon the peoples of the eretz and perhaps on the resurrected former abusers of His people (see on Is. 26:21). It may take the form of literal fire, as He destroyed Sodom, and as also mentioned in 2 Pet. 3. But His sword comes down as part of His 'pleading with all flesh' (see on Is. 27:1). This can be read as an allusion to judgment; but there is still the idea of pleading. The threat of the sword descending is His appeal, His pleading for repentance.

Isaiah 66:17 Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves to go to the gardens, behind one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, they shall come to an end together, says Yahweh-
I suggested on Is. 65:3 that these gardens may have been within the temple precincts. And LXX adds "and eat swine's flesh in the porches", the temple porches. But it may refer to some idolatrous sanctuary in exile, which the exiles used as a form of Yahweh worship. It was this same group who pronounced themselves 'purified' and abused and disfellowshipped the faithful remnant (Is. 65:5 LXX "I am pure"). Isaiah ends with particular condemnation of this group; it was their hypocrisy and disfellowship of their brethren which clearly elicited God's maximum wrath.


Isaiah 66:18 For I know their works and their thoughts-
Again we note the parallel between works and thoughts. The state of the heart, our thinking, is of such paramount importance to God.  

The time comes, that I will gather all nations and languages; and they shall come, and shall see My glory- "All nations" usually refers to all nations within or around the eretz promised to Abraham. They will all be gathered to judgment, and perceive God's glory- which will be manifest in Israel, the parade example of the glory of His saving grace towards sinners (Lk. 2:32). I suggested on :15 that the initial fulfilment could have been in the visible return of the cherubim to Zion, and they are repeatedly associated with the glory of the God of Israel (Ez. 9:3; 10:19; 11:22). This would then have fulfilled the prophecy of the glory of Israel's God entering the rebuilt Zion in Ez. 43:2. But the exiles didn't rebuild nor operate the temple system of Ez. 40-48 and so this was precluded. The greater fulfilment will be in the Lord Jesus as the image of the glory of God, returned to Zion and enthroned there before literally all nations.

Isaiah 66:19 I will set a sign among them-
The "them" is repentant, accepted Israel. They will have a sign / token placed upon them, just as circumcision had been the "sign" of the old covenant (s.w. Ex. 31:13 etc.). "Among them" can as well be "upon them". The token of the new covenant is the Spirit, and so this may be here in view.    

The idea of taking the Gospel world-wide in the great commission was alluding to Is. 66:17-20. Here those who are spared the ‘Gehenna’ of the last day judgment will have a sign placed on them, as upon Cain, and they will then be sent “unto the nations… and they shall declare my glory among the gentiles”. The rejection process glorifies God’s righteous Name, and this world-wide exhibition of the rejected will actually bring men “out of all nations” to God, just as Israel’s condemnation was an “instruction” unto the surrounding nations. The connection shows that in our obedience to the great commission, we go forth as condemned men who in our case, like the disciples, have known the wonder of grace. Mark’s record stresses three times in the lead up to the great commission that the disciples “believed not”; and then, he records how they were told to go and preach condemnation on those who believed not (Mk. 16:11,13,14,16). They were humbled men who did that.

And I will send such as escape of them to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the islands afar off, who have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the nations- These peoples could earlier have come to repentance and to Zion, but they refused. Prophecies like Is. 18:7 were to have a deferred fulfilment in the last days, when repentant Jews are sent to call in to Zion these "tall" peoples; those who draw or make tall the bow (s.w. "tall" peoples, Is. 18:7). The witness was to be by those Jews and Gentiles who 'escaped' from Babylon, by grace (s.w. Jer. 50:28; 51:50) and repented (Ez. 6:9). Their united experience of grace would be such a powerful witness.

Paul's desire to go to Spain (Rom. 15:24) indicates a commitment to taking the Gospel to the very ends of the world he then knew. He may well have been motivated in this by wishing to fulfill in spirit the Kingdom prophecy of Is. 66:18,19, which describes how Tarshish (which he would have understood as Spain) and other places which “have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory” will be witnessed to by those who have seen His glory and have “escaped” from God’s just condemnation by grace. Paul sees this as referring to himself. For he speaks in Rom. 15:19 of his ambition to take the Gospel to Spain; and in that same context, of how he will bring the Gentile brethren’s offering up to Jerusalem. This is precisely the context of Is. 66- the offerings of the Gentiles are to be brought up to Jerusalem, as a result of how the Lord’s glory will be spoken of to all nations. So Paul read Isaiah 66 and did something about his Old Testament Bible study; he dedicated his life to taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he encouraged them to send their offerings to Jerusalem. He was no mere theologian, no academic missiologist. His study and exposition of Old Testament Scripture led to a life lived out in practice, to hardship, risk of life, persecution, loneliness, even rejection by his brethren. It is also significant in passing to note that Is. 66:19 speaks of nations which occur in the list of nations we have in Genesis 10, in the context of the effect of Babel. It is as if Paul sees the spreading of the Gospel as an undoing of the curse of Babel and the establishment of the Kingdom conditions described in Is. 66. By his preaching of God’s Kingdom and the reign of Christ, he brought about a foretaste of the future Kingdom in the lives of his converts. And we can do likewise.

Isaiah 66:20 They shall bring all your brothers out of all the nations for an offering to Yahweh, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, says Yahweh-
I explained on :19 that the "them" are the repentant minority of Jewish exiles. It seems they are sent to bring their impenitent brethren back to Yahweh and to Zion. This is the key to successful preaching; repentant, forgiven sinners sharing the experience of grace. 

As the children of Israel bring their offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh- The offering they brought would have been of their converts; and Paul uses this idea in speaking of his converts as a sacrifice. Ez. 40:42 speaks of the vessels to be used in the temple [AV “instruments”] with the same word used for the temple vessels which were brought up out of Babylon back to Judah, in fulfilment of several of Isaiah’s ‘Kingdom’ passages (Ezra 1:6-11; 8:25-33 cp. Is. 52:11; 66:20). The restoration of the kingdom could potentially have happened at the time of Ezra.   


Isaiah 66:21 Of them also will I take for priests and for Levites, says Yahweh-
The "them" appears to refers to the Gentile converts. A new priesthood is in view. This would have been part of the new covenant offered to both Jews and Gentiles at the restoration, had they responded. This again was the intention for the restored exiles; for the work of the Lord Jesus put an end to the priesthood.

In the restoration from Babylon context, Is. 66:21 had prophesied that Yahweh would regather Judah, “And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD”. This implies, surely, that He would accept some as Levites who could not otherwise prove they were. Zechariah 6:11,13 speaks of Joshua being crowned with the High Priestly mitre and ‘bearing the glory’, i.e. carrying the urim and thummim in the breastplate. But all this was conditional on Joshua’s obedience: “This shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey” (Zech. 6:15). Because Joshua failed, he didn’t have urim and thummim, therefore no decision could be given about who was an acceptable priest, and therefore the ‘Kingdom’ prophecy of Ezekiel 42:13 was left unfulfilled. So much depended upon that man. And likewise, the eternal destiny of many others depends on us. Isaiah’s prophecies of the restoration feature “the servant”- who was a symbol of both the people and a Messianic individual. His success was bound up with theirs. Thus Is. 65:9: “And I will bring forth a seed [singular] out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor [singular] of my mountains: and mine elect [plural] shall inherit it, and my servants [plural] shall dwell there”. His obedience would enable the peoples’ establishment as the Kingdom.

The restoration prophecy of Ezekiel 42:13 commanded: “Then said he unto me, The north chambers and the south chambers, which are before the separate place, they be holy chambers, where the priests that approach unto the LORD shall eat the most holy things”. The same words are found in Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65- it wasn’t possible for the priests to eat of the holy things [signifying God’s acceptance of His people], because there was no record of their genealogy. Their names were not written in the “register” in fulfilment of Ezekiel 13:9: “neither shall they be written in the writing [s.w. ‘register’, Ezra 2:62] of the house of Israel”. Only if a priest stood up with urim and thummim could they eat of the holy things. These were two engraven stones carried in a pouch in the breastplate which flashed out Divine decisions (see H.A. Whittaker, Samuel, Saul And David for an excellent study of this). Zechariah 3:9 prophesies that Joshua the High Priest would have the engraven stone with seven eyes- the urim and thummim. It would thereby have been possible for a priesthood who had lost their genealogy record during the sacking of the first temple to eat the holy things, and thus fulfill Ezekiel 42:13.

Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me, says Yahweh-
Ez. 44:15 uses the same word: “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me [s.w. “remain before me”] to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD”. But Ezra had to confess, using these very words of Isaiah and Ezekiel which he would have been familiar with: “O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this” (Ezra 9:15). They hadn’t lived the Kingdom life, and therefore the Kingdom prophecies could not come true in them. It makes a profitable exercise to consider all the times that Ezra and Nehemiah allude to the words of Isaiah and Ezekiel. It must have been heartbreaking for them to see the possibility of fulfilment within their grasp, and yet to know that their people didn’t see the wonder of it all.

So your seed and your name shall remain- This is more than a bald statement that they would be immortalized. Their seed and name would remain, just as Yahweh's seed and Name would- for they would be identified with Him. But we shall each be given a name which is eternal, a unique reflection of our personality and character. Our struggles towards the person of Christ uniquely refracted through us will be eternally memorialized. Who we are now is who we shall eternally be. This points up the crucial importance of spiritual mindedness.


Isaiah 66:23 It shall happen, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says Yahweh-
"All flesh" would not fit in the literal temple; the immediate reference is to a restored temple in the land of Judah, used by the remnants of "all flesh" in the land promised to Abraham who came to live in Judah as they came into covenant with Israel's God. The Sabbath law has been ended in Christ. This is therefore another example of how these prophecies of the restoration were envisaged as coming true at the time the exiles returned from Babylon. But they broke the Sabbath themselves, as Nehemiah records; and they didn't teach the Gentiles God's ways. The essence but not the letter of all this will therefore be fulfilled in the last days, when all flesh will come before Yahweh.

Isaiah 66:24 They shall go forth, and look on the dead bodies of the men who have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched-
The context here is of the destruction of the apostate, hypocritical Jews who had condemned and disfellowshipped their faithful brethren (see on :5). They are the "sinners in Zion" of Is. 33:14, here described as "the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched". This is quoted in Mk. 9:44 concerning Gehenna, the place of punishment for the unworthy saints. If the judgement is to be at Jerusalem, it would fit into place if the unworthy are punished literally in the physical location of Gehenna. This would make more sense of the Lord Jesus Christ's repeated allusions to it when talking of the judgement. The repeated reference to fire being used to punish the unworthy (remember the Angels can be made a flaming fire) implies their punishment will be within a defined period of time- probably very short, seeing God has no pleasure in punishing sin- and if fire is to be used, it would be logical if it was in a confined location. A punishment in literal Gehenna fits in.

The servant was called to sustain the “dispirited” by the prophetic word (Is. 50:4). And yet passages like Is. 50:4-11 and even Is. 53 speak of how the servant met even physical abuse as well as rejection in his ministry to his fellow Jews. Indeed the servant feels that his mission to them has been a failure (Is. 49:1-6), a complaint met by God’s promise that his mission would be in some way reapplied to the Gentiles in their captivity to sin. The way the servant is beaten and has his hair pulled out (Is. 50:4-11) reminds us of how the prophet Jeremiah was treated the same way by the Jews when his message was rejected (Jer. 20:2; Jer. 37:15). The servant was spat at by his fellow Jews- an expression of utter contempt (Job 30:10). Whilst the servant prophecies find their later fulfilment in the Lord Jesus, it seems to me that in their first context, they speak of how a prophet or prophets at the time of the exile were rejected and even beaten up by their fellow Jews. Indeed, Isaiah ends on a negative note, describing the judgments to come upon the Jews who had rejected the message of deliverance from Babylon (Is. 66:24). Is. 65:8-16; Is. 66:5 etc. speak of a minority of Jews who trembled at the word of prophecy and were Yahweh’s servants, who had been disfellowshipped by the leaders of the Jewish community in Babylon. The majority of the captives insisted, according to Ez. 18, that they hadn’t sinned, and they were suffering unjustly because of the sins of their fathers; whereas this righteous remnant in Babylon admitted that “we have sinned. Equally with them of old time have we transgressed” (Is. 64:5). They took the message of Ezekiel to heart- unlike the majority. And thus this was the sad end of the great plan developed by the God of all grace for His people in Babylon. They rejected it, and hated His servants who brought that good news to them.

And they will be loathsome to all mankind- AV "shall be an abhorring to all flesh"- the Hebrew text of Dan. 12:2 concerning the punishment of the responsible at judgement suggests some allusion to this: "Some to shame and everlasting contempt".