(The text used is the NASB, 1992)

This final chapter is a separate discourse but continues the answer to the national prayer of chapter 64. The basic concern in the national prayer is found at 64:12, "Will you restrain yourself at these things O Yahweh? Will you keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?"

The first question deals with the oppression from Israel's enemies, who of course, are God's enemies. And the second question deals with forgiveness and removal of divine discipline on the nation of Israel.

The answer is that God will restore Israel once again, but only through their acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. In other words, forgiveness of sins through faith in the Savior comes first, and then God will deliver the nation. The promises given to Abraham will be fulfilled, but it depends on the two advents of the Messiah. At the first advent, He will provide the basis for forgiveness and restoration, as Daniel 9:24 indicates, "to bring to an end the transgression, to make an end of sins, and to make covering for iniquity." And then at the 2nd advent, He will judge all of Israel's enemies and rescue those "who turn from transgression in Jacob," (Isaiah 59:20), and "bring in everlasting righteousness" (Daniel 9:24), which refers to the establishment of the NEW earthly kingdom "in which righteousness dwells," (2 Peter 3:13).

Isaiah 66:1-2a, "Thus says the LORD, Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD.

God begins with a scathing denunciation and indictment of the religious practices of the people. This is an extension of the indictment given in chapter 1:10-15, where we are told that they combine iniquity with the rituals which thus invalidates those rituals, and brings from God hatred, intolerance, rejection and unresponsiveness. He rejects their worship activity and finds no "resting place" to dwell and fellowship with them. The temple and its sacrifices are now worthless and a burden to Him. Thus, verse 66:1 to clarify that there is no longer a place on earth; a house for him to dwell in and fellowship with them.

This same condition will exist in the Messiah generation as Jesus summarizes, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robbers den," (Matthew 21:13).

Here God appeals to His omnipresence and His omnipotence, and teaches the people that PHYSICAL expressions of worship are meaningless unless there is the INNER spiritual reality of humility.

Isaiah 66:2b, But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Before there can be relationship or fellowship with God, there must be a humility adjustment to His authority, viewpoint and policy.

The unbeliever cannot trust in the Messiah's salvation provision, unless he KNOWS of a need to do so. That is, he must be convicted of his sinfulness. Apart from that, there is no "reason" for him to turn to God. However, such conviction is only part of it. Next is required the proper attitude toward that conviction. We must recognize our sinfulness and reject it as being in opposition to God. This is the attitude of REMORSE and REPENTANCE (a change of mind). And then the final step, we must CHOOSE to follow God's policy for both salvation and fellowship. If we try to gain either on our own terms, we will come up short, just as Israel did by trying to pursue God's righteousness through the works of the law instead of through faith (Romans 9:31-32; 10:3), as we saw in the previous chapter.

The proper humility response to God is expressed by three ideas.

1. humble: this is Aniy, and means afflicted rather than humble (which would be anaw). But since it is afflicted in spirit (ruach), it communicates RECOGNITION of one's sinfulness. It is the attitude that acknowledges that we are indeed afflicted by sin. But if we do not recognize that (humility), then we will try to relate to God and others through our own viewpoint and actions instead of following God's viewpoint and policy. And this is exactly what the nation was doing. Becoming aware of your afflicted spirit (sinfulness) SHOULD move you toward remorse and a change of mind. This is what is taught at Matthew 5:3, "poor (afflicted) in spirit."

2. contrite: this word is the adjective, nAkāh, which means to be smitten. But it is smitten of spirit (ruach) which communicates the attitude of REMORSE and repentance concerning sinfulness. It means that the sinful disposition of our soul (the spirit is the reflector of the soul) is cut down so that we are convicted and challenged to do something about it. But we cannot adjust to God's viewpoint and policy if we are unwilling to change our mind about the presence and seriousness of sin.

This is what is taught at Matthew 5:4, "those who mourn."

3. trembles at My word: the word, tremble, communicates an overt expression of humility. We see often the combination of "fear and trembling," (Philip. 2:12). Fear is the attitude of humility toward God, and trembling is the overt expression of that attitude. In this case it is the expression of acceptance and application of God's word. It is one thing to have a repentant attitude toward our sinfulness, it is quite another to take steps to bring ourselves more into conformity to the viewpoint and policy of God by learning and doing His word.

For the unbeliever, he must hear and accept the gospel, which is to place his trust in the Messianic promise (John 6:44-45; Romans 10:11-17).

For the believer, he must get back into fellowship with God through confession of sins to God (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9), and then he needs to start learning and doing God's word, or else he will return to the same patterns of sin and human viewpoint as before (Psalm 119:9-11; James 1:21-25).

Isaiah 66:3a, {But} he who kills an ox is {like} one who slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb is {like} the one who breaks a dog's neck; He who offers a grain offering {is like one who offers} swine's blood; He who burns incense is {like} the one who blesses an idol.

This describes what I already referred to at Isaiah 1:10-14. They are practicing iniquity (idolatry and immorality) while at the same time trying to worship God through the temple rituals. There is no spiritual reality. They have not recognized and accepted the Messianic promise with the result that they are a nation of unbelievers and do not know God. This is also an indictment on the Messiah generation as is characterized by the religious leaders, and is further indicted by Jesus under the "Woe, scribes and Pharisees" discourse (Matthew 23:13-36).

Isaiah 66:3b, As they have chosen their {own} ways, And their soul delights in their abominations.

As mentioned earlier, they have rejected Divine viewpoint and policy, and have devised their own policy for CLAIMING relationship and/or fellowship with God. As a result, God will judge the nation. It will be a partial judgment in the Isaiah generation, but they will recover. However, there is no recovery in the Jeremiah generation or in the Messiah generation, so the national priestly function will be removed.

Isaiah 66:4a, So I will choose their punishments, And I will bring on them what they dread.

What they dread, is total loss of national identity. Notice this is the concern expressed at Isaiah 63:19, "we have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name." And at verse 16, "Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us.

Isaiah 63:15-19 expresses the wrong attitude of the nation as they are under divine judgment, which is what is expressed throughout the church age, and not changed until the time of "their affliction," (Hosea 5:15), which is the "time of Jacob's distress (Jer. 30:5-7; Dan. 12:2), and the great tribulation (Mat. 24:15-22). Instead of blaming God as at verse 17, they need to express the humility of chapter 64, which is described at Hosea 5:15, as seeking my face. The total loss of national identity occurs when they are removed from their land by Nebuchadnezar in 586 BC (2 Chron. 36:15-21), and again in 70 AD by Rome (Luke 21:22-24).

Before the fulfillment of Israel's national promises, they will fail time and time again as God's priestly agent. After the Chaldean captivity, they are given another chance, a chance that lasts for 483 years. But then with the Messiah personally walking and talking among them, they reject Him and bring upon themselves a judgment that actually takes them out of the category of God's servants (holy nation, priesthood, special protection), destroys their national heritage and gives the job to others (Matthew 21:42-44) for a very long time, which is "understated" at Dan. 11:33 as "days."

At Hosea 5:14-15 it is described as lasting until they "bear guilt (not, their guilt) and seek My face," which will occur during the great tribulation. The bearing of the guilt indicates that her discipline is accomplished and she is ready to resume her duties as God's evangelistic agent.

Although they will not actually accept God's Messiah until He comes back, the pressure of the affliction will move them to seek Him, and "consider" the possibility that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Then once He returns, 144,000 Jews will trust in Him as Savior (Rev. 7:1-8).

Isaiah 66:4b, Because I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. And they did evil in My sight, And chose that in which I did not delight."

This is the exact wording that occurs at Isaiah 65:12, where there the judgment is described as "I will destine you for the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter."

God has always been faithful to appeal to His people before judging them. Grace always precedes judgment. This is so beautifully, though sadly, portrayed by Jesus at Matthew 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling."

At Matthew 23:34, Jesus gives a summary of God's activity throughout the history of Israel, leading up to the final rebellion toward the person of the Messiah. "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city."

And thus, as God says here, through Isaiah once again, "but they did not listen." And earlier at Isaiah 28:12-13, "but they would not listen," with the result that they "go, and stumble backward, be broken, snared and taken captive."

Isaiah 66:5

1. Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word:

The ones who tremble at His word are those who are believers and who are using truth to maintain spiritual stability during the persecution pressure from the religious crowd of the Messiah generation.

2. Your brothers who hate you: The religious crowd expressed great hatred toward anyone who brought truth to bear on their hypocrisy and false teaching. From John the dipper to Jesus Himself, as at Luke 7:33-34, "For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!'

But also upon anyone during His ministry who even remotely sided with Jesus (John 9:22).

Luke 21:17, "and you will be hated by all on account of My name."

John 15:24, "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well."

John 15:25, "But {they have done this} in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, 'THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.'

John 17:14, "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

3. who exclude you for My name's sake, Have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy:

They reject the believers and think that they are serving God by doing it. John 16:2, "They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God." And they challenge the believers by appealing to the desire to please God. Let us show you, they claim, you will see God glorified, you will be proven wrong, and you will be joyful as a result. But of course, they are wrong and this will result in their own personal and national judgment.

It is quite interesting that this is exactly what the book of Hebrews is all about. The Christian Jews (probably in Jerusalem) were being pressured by family, friends, and religious leaders, to turn away from Christ and return to the traditions of Moses. They were trying to make a case that Moses was still the authority, and that God could only be glorified by following the Mosaic law. The writer of the book, of course, adequately defends the faith.

4. But they will be put to shame:

Again, a reference to the judgment that will take place in 70 AD, which will be the ultimate indictment against the nation, and yet for all of that, they will still as a whole reject Jesus as the promised Messiah, until the time of the great tribulation. Just as Paul states, "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in," (Romans 11:25).

Isaiah 66:6, "A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple, The voice of the LORD who is rendering recompense to His enemies.

This describes the destruction of the city and the temple in 70 AD. Yes, this has "near" application to the Jeremiah generation and the destruction of the temple in 586 BC, but the specific context that God gives to Isaiah here, makes it clear that he has in mind the Messiah generation. The TRAVAIL (verse 7) on the nation begins with the judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD, and will continue until -

(1) they seek God's face during the tribulation: Hosea 5:14-15.
(2) they say, "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," (Matthew 23:39).
(3) the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Luke 21:24; Rom. 11:25).

But BEFORE that travail begins -

(1) the Messiah is born.
(2) the new priestly "nation" is formed.


"Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy."

The travail is the national judgment of 70 AD. The birth of a boy is the seed and the heir of Isaiah 65:9 - the Messiah.

Also seen at Isaiah 7:14, as the virgin's Immanuel, and at Isaiah 9:6, "a child will be born to us and a son will be given to us."

Isaiah 66:8 - THE BIRTH OF THE NEW SPIRITUAL NATION (the church)

"Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?"

Now the focus is not on the birth of a PERSON, but of a nation.

The question is answered by the last sentence, "As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons."

This should be translated as, "For when Zion travailed . . ."

The construction, kiy . . . gan, in the Hebrew indicates a temporal clause that is better rendered as "when" than "as soon as." For in actuality, it was NOT "as soon as," but was "at the time" or WHEN, Zion was placed under discipline, that was the occasion for the birth of the new spiritual nation. And technically that judgment took place at the time that Jesus pronounced the indictment as recorded at Matthew 21:43 and 23:37-39, just a few days before the crucifixion.

Was there a "nation" born in one day because of the national judgment that was to come upon Israel? Yes there was. In 30 AD, on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem - a small group of about 120 people, were spiritually "grabbed" by God and placed into the body of Christ and became "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a protected people," (1 Peter 2:9), "for by one Spirit (they) were all baptized into one body," (1 Cor. 12:13), and became the "spiritual house for a holy priesthood," (1 Peter 2:5).

And the "her sons" who were brought forth refers to all believers from that time forward who are known as Christ's brethren (Heb. 2:11), and "the children whom God has given Him," (Hebrews 2:13), and "the rest of her (Israel's) offspring" (Rev. 12:17). That includes all people from 30 AD until the arrival of Jesus at His second coming.


"Shall I bring to the point of birth, and not give delivery?" says the LORD. Or shall I who gives delivery shut {the womb?}" says your God.

Now it gets tricky. What we have at verse 9, is a transition to national blessing for Israel, which has really been the subject all along. The image of a BIRTH, now changes from (1) the birth of the Messiah and (2) the birth of a nation, to (3) the birth of a kingdom.

This is a future idea. The birth of the Messiah is viewed as past and the birth of the new nation is viewed as past, but this is seen as still a future event. Thus, the question. Shall God put the nation through its discipline; its affliction and travail, which is for the purpose of refining them and bringing to the place where they will accept Jesus as the Messiah, and NOT fulfill His promises that He has made? Of course not! God is faithful, indeed, as Isaiah already related in chapter 65, once the new priestly body is brought into existence, worship will be centered around "the God of faithfulness," (65:16).

Faithful in that He brought the Savior to secure forgiveness of sins; and faithful because He will fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to David. What then is the BIRTH that God will be faithful to carry out? It is to "extend peace to her like a river," (V. 12), which refers to blessing from being established in the promised kingdom.

But what is "the time of birth" that is in view here?

Since the birth is the kingdom blessing that God has promised to Israel, the "birthing" must be the distress that Israel goes through just prior to receiving kingdom blessing. Thus, it refers to all the affliction that Israel has endured and will endure, which will culminate in the oppression by the beast, not only during the tribulation, but also during the period of the Day of the Lord, when the beast will still be oppressing, although not very thoroughly since the trumpet and then the bowl judgments will be keeping him quite occupied and unable to dedicate time and resources to his political and religious agenda.

Israel will be delivered from this oppression by the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord. It will not be a deliverance that occurs in ONE DAY, but will begin at that time with the trumpet judgments as the first of God's steps for destroying all her enemies. That deliverance will be completed at Armageddon, when Jesus physically descends to the earth to destroy the armies gathered there. (Zech. 14:1-7; 12:1-9).

The term Day of the LORD in the Old Testament is used to indicate several different factors concerning that time of divine judgment on the world. Sometimes it is used to indicate the beginning point of the Day of the LORD and sometimes a specific event that takes place within that time period. The prophecies concerning the future Day of the LORD are always given within a context of present or "near" historical reality with the nation of Israel usually at the center of attention.

At the Day of the Lord, Jesus will return and "cut short" the great tribulation even while the beast still has time left in his allotted reign over the earth (42 months). The 6th seal of the book of The Revelation represents the arrival of the Day of the LORD and the physical and visible return of Jesus in "the clouds of the sky" so that "every eye shall see Him" and all who are unprepared for Him "will mourn" for the suffering that will come upon the earth from God's wrath.

For more details about the Day of the LORD, see The Sixth Seal.

Isaiah 66:10, "Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her."

The Gentiles of the world who have trusted in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior will be looking for God's deliverance of Israel, as well as deliverance from the reign of the beast. The oriented believers will "love" Israel and because of that love, they will also be mourning over her oppression.

But upon this deliverance and the kingdom blessing that begins after, these Gentile believers will be exceeding joyful for her.

Isaiah 66:11-13, That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom. For thus says the LORD, "Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

Because of Israel's deliverance and kingdom blessing, the Gentiles who enter the kingdom with her, will share in the blessing and the material prosperity. With Israel as the center of kingdom life and prosperity, all the nations will prosper as well. This is the image that is portrayed by sucking at the breast. Such a picture is consistently used in the bible to portray nourishment, and economic stability.

This blessing upon the Gentiles is mentioned in other places:
Isaiah 2:1-4; 11:4b-10; Micah 4;1-4; Zech. 2:10-12;

Isaiah 66:14a, "Then you shall see {this,} and your heart shall be glad, And your bones shall flourish like the new grass; And the hand of the LORD shall be made known to His servants."

The believing Gentiles will see the judgment being poured out upon the enemies of God and God's people, and see Israel delivered at the battle of Armageddon, and they will rejoice. And then as a result of Israel's deliverance and promotion, the Gentiles too will be blessed.

There are many Gentile believers scattered throughout the nations, who will be waiting for the results of the battle of Armageddon. We know that after the dust settles, that these believers will join with Israel in the kingdom (Zechariah 14:16).

Isaiah 66:14b, "But He shall be indignant toward His enemies."

Repetition of verse 6 for emphasis. The enemies of God and of God's people will be recipients of His anger. After establishing once again, the reality of Israel's future kingdom blessing in verses 66:9-14, Isaiah backs up once more to focus on what it is that brings about this great national prosperity. It is the judgment upon God's enemies that brings about the Kingdom.

Now in verses 15-17, Isaiah gives amplification of this judgment that will occur during the day of the Lord. Even though the term, Day of the Lord, does not occur here, the context is clear enough that we can make the correlation.

Isaiah 66:15, "For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire.

The day of the Lord begins when Yahweh the Messiah comes in the clouds of the sky with POWER and GREAT GLORY (Matthew 24:30) with His mighty angels in flaming FIRE (2 Thes. 1:7). This is described at the 6th seal of Revelation 6:12-17, and is when He will begin to pour out His great anger in judgments upon the unbelieving world, which they anticipate from Him, and run away in fear (Rev. 6:15-16; Isaiah 2:19-21; Luke 21:25-26; Matthew 24:30).

The wrath of God that is expressed at this time falls into two categories. (1) the preliminary anger which is always attendant with judgment, and will be seen through the trumpet judgments of Revelation 8-9. And (2) the FINAL outpouring of wrath which is intensified through the 7 bowls of Revelation 15-16.

Isaiah 66:16, "For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many."

This then is a summary of the judgments that begin at the Day of the Lord arrival of Jesus and are described more fully through the trumpets and bowls.

The reference to "those slain," is a summary of the death that occurs over the entire period of time.

1. Although there is no "death" mentioned in the first 4 trumpet judgments, the very nature of what happens demands the assumption that many people die. Or to be facetious, I suppose we could say that the 1/3 of the ships that are destroyed at trumpet #9 are all EMPTY.

2. Of course there is no death at trumpet #5, but that is the specific nature of that judgment.

3. Trumpet #6 on the other hand very specifically results in the death of 1/3 of the world's population.

4. Then there is the 7,000 who are killed in the earthquake in Jerusalem just before the bowls begin to be poured out (Rev. 11:13).

5. There is no mention of death with the bowls specifically, but of course they are of such a nature that death would certainly come to some of the people afflicted with the sores (16:2), poisonous waters (16:3-4), sun scorching (16:8-9), extreme darkness and cold (16:10), hailstones (16:21).

6. However Armageddon, which occurs in connection with the 6th and 7th bowls, does result in a huge death toll (Revelation 19:17-18, 21).

And then after that the "goats" of the sheep and goat judgment will be removed from the earth (Matthew 25:31-46).

Isaiah 66:17, "Those who sanctify and purify themselves {to go} to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine's flesh, detestable things, and mice, Shall come to an end altogether," declares the LORD.

This states an indictment on idolaters, those who look to ANYTHING other than God. It includes those who are involved with blatant overt idolatry as well as those who are simply involved in the practices associated with idolatry, which is basically just covetousness (Eph. 5:5).

In the end times context, we can see that there will be many idolaters still alive and rejecting God's urging through judgment. At Revelation 9:20-21, after the effects of the world wide attack of the Northern army, we still see that these spiritual rebels and idolaters, "did not repent of the deeds of their hands so as not to worship demons and the idols."

But these of course will be killed either in connection with Armageddon (Rev. 19:21) or simply removed via the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31-46.

Isaiah 66:18-21 is given in prose, which separates it from the previous verses and verses 22-24. This is a literary device for the author to change the focus. For us to understand what that change of focus is, we must have the entire context before us and see what the new information best aligns with. The idolaters of verse 17 are simply the "remnant" of those who have expressed such spiritual rebellion all throughout history. God's plan is to bring blessing to the nation of Israel and to judge the unbelievers. The basis for doing that is the first advent of the Messiah.

Vs. 18-19 are describing something that is not fulfilled at Armageddon.

Isaiah 66:18, "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.

1. The Hebrew here does not have the word, know. Instead, it should read, "And I, because of their works . . ." God is well aware of the true motivations and works of all people. That knowledge is implied but not stated. It is because of their spiritual rebellion that God will ultimately judge all flesh.

2. The next phrase begins with the word, coming, and the idea of "a time is" is supplied because there is a verbal implication.

It is because of the evil motivations and deeds of the human race that God will bring a gathering together of nations and languages. But this is not for judgment, but for blessing.

3. The purpose is so that they will come and see my glory.

At the time of Armageddon, the peoples of the world will have already seen the glory of the Lord via His arrival in the clouds, "with power and great glory," (Matthew 24:30). So this is not something that occurs in an end times context.

Rather it is the beginning of the church age, the formation of the new priestly body which has already been taught in chapter 65:13-16 and 66:8. At Jerusalem in 30 AD, there Jews were gathered from practically every nation (Acts 2:5), and they were all evangelized (heard the magnificent things of God) in their respective languages through the spiritual gift of languages (Acts 2:7-11). From among this group 3000 became believers and would now be equipped to take the gospel back home to teach it to the many nations represented. Within a matter of just 5 years, the believers began to be scattered away from Jerusalem and began to fulfill Acts 1:8, "even to the remotest part of the earth."

This is the beginning of the New Covenant message, and the SIGN of the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:20-22; Isaiah 28:9-13) is that which proclaims to the nation of Israel, that the Messiah has come and that they are being replaced with "a nation producing the fruit" of the kingdom (Matthew 21:43; Isaiah 28:13, 16).

See Topic: Gift of Tongues

Isaiah 66:19, "And I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations.

The sign is the gift of languages, which occurred from 30 to 70 AD as a special sign JUST for the nation of Israel before it is destroyed by the Roman legions. 1 Cor. 14:21-22, "In the law it is written, 'By men of strange languages and by the lips of strangers I will speak to THIS PEOPLE (Israel), and even so they will not listen to Me,' says the Lord. So then (the gift of) languages are for a sign, not to those who believe (the new believers of the church), but to unbelievers (those of Israel)."

However, there are other signs that may very well be included in the general idea of SIGN mentioned here. Those include the sign of the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14) and the sign of the resurrection (Mat. 12:39-40; Acts 17:31).

The "survivors" mentioned here is the Hebrew word, pAleyt, which means someone who has been delivered or brought into security. It comes from the verb, PAlat, which means to escape, come into security or be delivered. These who are in view are certainly "survivors," but that could refer to those who have escaped God's judgment by trusting in Christ, or it could refer to Jewish believers who escape the destruction of Jerusalem. In either case these carry the gospel to the rest of the world; to those who "have neither heard my fame or seen my glory."

Once again, the whole world would have been witness to the glory of God at the Day of the Lord, so there is no reason to send "survivors" throughout the world to declare God's glory. Rather, it refers to a time when people would be (and were) sent throughout the world bearing the message of God's glory. It refers to the evangelistic ministry of the church which began in 30 AD, would extend worldwide (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8) continuing right up until the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:14), and during that time, have a special ministry to the Jews of Palestine (Daniel 11:35; Matthew 10:23).

During the church age there would be a gathering of Jews back into the land of Palestine from all the nations into which they were scattered.

This will occur primarily through the influence of Christians.

In 1917, Great Britain with the support of the United States, both considered to be strongly influenced by Christian values, established the Balfour Declaration which gave the Jews a homeland in Palestine, allowing them to emigrate from anywhere in the world, and settle there. And since then most Christians have always been supportive of Israel's actions in the land of Palestine.

Isaiah 66:20, "Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD.

Verse 20 describes this re-gathering as taking place through the mechanics of THEY, the survivors or "delivered ones" (believers) of the new priestly body. This gathering of the Jews back into the land of Palestine is also described at Is. 49:18-21, "Lift up your eyes and look around; All of them gather together, they come to you. As I live," declares the LORD, You shall surely put on all of them as jewels, and bind them on as a bride. For your waste and desolate places, and your destroyed land - Surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants, And those who swallowed you will be far away. "The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears, The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live {here}.' Then you will say in your heart, Who has begotten these for me, Since I have been bereaved of my children, And am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone; From where did these come?'"
Also at: Ezekiel 34:11-16; 36:22-24; 37:1-13

See Article: The Re-gathering of Israel

As a result of the faithfulness of the church to God's plans for Israel, there will be a maximum number of Jews living in Palestine at the return of Jesus at the day of the Lord. After the believers are removed through the rapture (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thes. 4:13-17), there will be a group of 144,000 Jews who trust in Jesus as the Messiah (Revelation 7:1-8).

Throughout the Day of the Lord judgments, Israel will continue to be purged so that the result will be a group of saved Jews large enough and representative enough to be called, "all Israel." For after the evaluation of the living Jews after Armageddon (Ezekiel 34:11-22), then God will make a covenant of peace with the remnant and He will be their God (Ezekiel 34:23-25), and then will be realized a COMPLETE nation with everyone a believer, "for all Israel will be saved," (Romans 11:26).

Some of these or some of their converts, who then go on into the Messianic kingdom will become priests and Levites for the new temple that will be built at that time (Ezekiel 40-44).

Verse 21 describes this, "I will also take some of them for priests {and} for Levites," says the LORD.

We know that this is referring to the millennial kingdom because of verse 22-24.

Isaiah 66:22, "For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me," declares the LORD, So your offspring and your name will endure.

The term, "new heavens and new earth" refers to the beginning of the Messiah's earthly kingdom as we have already seen at Isaiah 65:17ff.

That new earthly environment will endure for 1000 years, and Israel will endure, living in national prosperity for the same 1000 years.

Then, as we are taught in the New Testament, after the 1000 years, the New Heavens and earth will be taken a step further to involve a complete renovation (2 Peter 3:10, 12; Revelation 20:11; 21:1; Hebrews 12:26-27), and the human race will live in a spiritual kingdom instead of on the earth (Revelation 21:1-8).

The new heavens and earth of the Millennium serve as a foretaste of the more permanent renovation of the universe at the last judgment.

The "permanence" factor mentioned here is deceptive. We know that the millennial earth will not remain forever because (1) it is not physically perfect, and (2) we have direct statements that it will be renovated.

Therefore, this promise should be taken within the context of the duration of the millennial kingdom. That is, as long as the "initial" new heavens remain, so also will God's use of Israel as priests to represent Him to the other nations. When God's timetable for the duration of the millennial kingdom is completed, then all remaining believers will receive resurrection bodies and live in the new Jerusalem for all eternity, and the millennial earth will be destroyed and replaced with the new "eternal" heavens and earth.

In addition, as already pointed out at Isaiah 65:17ff, the New Testament reveals that the renovation of the universe includes the resurrection program which begins at the day of the Lord. Thus, there are three phases to the new heavens and new earth.

A. The RESURRECTION phase, which begins at the inception of the day of the Lord. Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:22-24, 50-53; 1 Thes. 4:13-17; Rev. 20:4

B. The KINGDOM phase, which is the 1000 earthly reign of the Messiah. Isaiah 65:18-25; 66:20-23

C. The ETERNAL phase, which is the total physical renovation, which for lack of any language to the contrary, seems to last for all eternity. Heb. 12:26-27; 2 Pet. 3:7-12; Rev. 21:1

See Topic: Renovation of the Universe

Isaiah 66:23, "And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me," says the LORD.

This describes worship activity during the Messiah's earthly kingdom.
Isaiah 11:10; 60:3; Micah 4:1-2; Zechariah 2:11.

At Zechariah 14:16, it is mentioned from the standpoint of the beginning of the kingdom and then verses 17-19, describes judgment on any nations who do not worship in Jerusalem, which would come about as many years pass once the kingdom has begun.

The mention of the sabbath does not require a return to the RITUAL sabbath that was given to Israel only (Exodus 31:12-17; Ezek. 20:12), but simply indicates that mankind will be observing the MEMORIAL sabbath that was established at the beginning with Adam in the garden.

The memorial sabbath is observed through a mental attitude that acknowledges God as the source of all that we have, and we express our grace and thankfulness to Him for all that He has done. It does NOT involve a ritual of no work. That ritual was for Israel only and was never extended to the church, and will not be extended into the millennium. The only mention of the sabbath in connection with worship in the millennium is found at three places in Ezekiel (Ezek. 46:1; Ezek. 46:4; Ezek. 46:12), and those do not even suggest that there will be a "no work" ritual practiced.

This issue then of the sabbath, simply indicates that weeks will be measured from sabbath to sabbath, and the reason for that is because that is the one day of the week that has always been associated with God's grace, and He especially set it aside for that honor totally independent from a "no work" ritual (Genesis 3:1-3). Incidentally, the New Testament does not authorize any special recognition of either Saturday or Sunday for either worship activity or honor (Romans 14:5-6).

For More details see Topic: SABBATH

Isaiah 66:24a, "Then they shall go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me.

At the beginning of the Millennium, there will be a very dramatic teaching aid that God leaves for the people that will last for seven years. After the battle of Armageddon, the corpses of the dead Northern army will be scattered along the Mediterranean coastline (Ezekiel 39:9-16; Joel 2:20). This teaching aid will have two phases to it. (1) The actual corpses of the army, picked clean by the scavenger animals, will lie on the ground until they can all be buried, which will take about 7 months (Ezekiel 39:12-20). And (2) the disposition of all the equipment (weapons, etc.) will take seven years before it is completely recycled and used for fuel (Ezekiel 39:9-10).

Isaiah 66:24b, "For their worm shall not die, And their fire shall not be quenched; And they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind."

The word FOR, gives us an explanation of WHY these bodies are going to be left around for a while. It is to ILLUSTRATE the gravity of sin and the eternal consequences of rejecting the Savior. Even though the bodies are scattered about on the ground, their souls are in hades undergoing the torment of unquenchable fire (as a foretaste of the lake of fire), and as people observe the corpses they will be reminded of these spiritual realities. It will be a teaching aid for any children who are present and an "historical" teaching aid for all the children who will be born in the future.

The idea that "their worm shall not die" refers to their life essence, which is their soul. In hades, the soul will experience this torment in a realm of fire that "shall not be quenched," (Luke 16:23-24).

See topic: DEATH: Physical

This "existence" in hades is only a foretaste of their eternal dwelling place which is called the lake of fire. The "worm shall not die" aspect is explained at Revelation 14:10-11, "he will be tormented with fire and brimstone . . .and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night." The difference between hades and the lake of fire, is that in the lake of fire the "worm" (life essence); the soul, will be rejoined with the physical body so that the torment will be experienced in both body and soul.

See Topic: JUDGMENT: Lake of Fire

The right attitude toward these unbelievers is expressed by the word, abhorrence, which is derAon, and only occurs here and at Daniel 12:2.
There, we see that the unbelieving dead will be raised up to disgrace and everlasting contempt (abhorrence). It communicates extreme disapproval and the rejection that results from that disapproval.

Thus at John 5:29, Jesus calls it "a resurrection of judgment."
Judgment is the administration of divine justice, that sends them to the lake of fire.

Abhorrence is the divine attitude that abhors and rejects, which is to be reflected by all believers who are "in tune" with the divine viewpoint.

At 2 Thes. 1:9, Paul describes it as paying the penalty of "everlasting ruin, away from the presence of the Lord." This idea of SEPARATION further amplifies the attitude of abhorrence.

Thus, the book of Isaiah ends with Israel under blessing in the Messianic kingdom as a foretaste of eternity; and with unbelievers in the torment of hades, which is their foretaste of eternity.

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