In this study, which concludes the vision of Isaiah (1:1), all themes and prophecies reach their climax. There is the call for saints to partake of and rejoice in the consolations of their spiritual mother, Jerusalem (v10–14); this is set against the recurring theme of judgment and indignation towards Yahweh’s enemies (v6, 14–17, 24), which will involve “all flesh”, including the apostates of Israel (v15–18). Survivors of Armageddon will be dispatched to Gentile nations and they shall bring their brethren for an offering to Yahweh, some being taken for priests (v19–21). The final vision affirms that as the “new heavens and earth shall remain”, so shall the seed and name of faithful servants. This is coupled with “all flesh” coming to worship before Yahweh along with a visible reminder of the consequences of rebellion, for the mausoleum of Gog will be preserved for that purpose (v22–24).

66:10 The Redeemed are invited to rejoice in mother Zion’s consolations

66:10 (1) “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, (2) all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:

66:11 that ye may (3) suck, and be satisfied by the breasts of her (4) consolations; (5) that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.”

(1) Five times the words “rejoice”, “joy” and “be glad” appear in verses 10–14. Compare this with the rejoicing associated with the new heavens and earth in 65:17–25, where these words also appear (including “enjoy”) seven times. All the beautiful words of Isaiah about the coming glory of Zion will become a reality, bringing unspeakable joys to her children. It reminds us of our hymn, “Most glorious things are spoken, Jerusalem, of thee”; the city is destined to become the “joy of the whole earth” (Psa 48:2).

(2) These consolations are promised to those who both love her but have been caused to mourn for her during the years of her humiliation – “Oh! mourn ye for Zion”, as another hymn puts it. Those who mourn for Zion (61:2–3) belong to the same class as those who in Ezekiel’s day “sighed and cried for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof ” (Ezek 9:4). They have patiently waited for the reversal of her fortunes, for the day of divine intervention when she shall become “the city of the great King”, the Lord Jesus Christ (Psa 48:2; Matt 5:35).

(3) As the wails of a newborn are silenced by mother’s breast, so all the suffering and humiliation of Zion’s children will be dissipated by her abundant milk!

(4) The words “consolation” and “comfort” appear four times in verses 11 and 13. Isaiah 57–66 is known as the Book of Consolation, but the theme commences earlier with the first words (40:1–2) of the Servant Prophecy (chapters 40–56). Significantly the comfort and consolation have their foundation in the work the Servant would accomplish, without which there would be no comfort (61:2–3; 52:9; 57:18).

(5) RSV “that ye may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory”. The following verses (v12–14) tell us from whence this “glory” will come, but again returns to the compelling message of almost overwhelming comfort that will be the experience of her children.

66:12–14 Mother Jerusalem’s abundant prosperity will nourish and comfort her children

66:12 “For (1) thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend (2) peace to her like a river, and the glory (3) of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: (4) then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

66:13 (5) As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

(1) Here is a divine a affirmation, assuring us that the promised consolations, though seemingly remote, are nonetheless sure. It is Yahweh’s determination: “I will extend peace to her”.

(2) Peace and prosperity will replace persecution and poverty, and that is guaranteed by the most eloquent language: “like a river”, and “like a flowing stream”.

(3) The attitude of the Gentiles to Zion and her children will be dramatically reversed. The affluent among the nations will seek their favour and devote their wealth and resources to Zion’s glorification (60:5–6; 49:22–23; Hag 2:7–9; Psa 72:10–11), as in the type in Solomon’s reign (1 Kgs 10:24–25).

(4) Three ways a baby is comforted by his/her mother are mentioned; being suckled, borne on the side, and dandled upon the knee. It is a glorious picture of ultimate comfort – and reminds me of the comfort received from my mother when I put my head on her lap or she stroked my face!

(5) This verse emphasises by repetition the inevitability of what today appears impossible.

66:14 “And when ye see this, (1) your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an (2) herb: and the (3) hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and (4) his indignation toward his enemies.”

(1) These words are picked up by our Lord (John 16:22) in the context of saints suffering in his absence, but then rejoicing as a mother who gives birth to a “man child” (John 16:21, cp Isa 66:7!): “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22). Both “heart” and “bones” are referred to, that is the whole person.

(2) The exuberant growth of herbs is referred to (cp 44:3–4; Psa 72:16; Job 5:25).

(3) Yahweh will not be distant from His servants; He will be right there acting personally for them and they will know that this is so.

(4) Isaiah’s visions deal with reward and punishment: at the same time as rewards are dispensed the judgment of enemies and apostates will be unleashed (cp Isa 34:8; 61:2; 59:18–21; Rev 11:18). These words of warning are elaborated in the verses that follow and will embrace the whole world, i.e. “all flesh” (v15), including the apostates (v17).

Isa 66:15–18 In contrast to verses 12–14, Yahweh declares His fearful judgments on apostates and all nations

66:15 “For, behold, the LORD will come with (1) fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

66:16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with (2) all flesh: and the (3) slain of the LORD shall be many.”

(1) Fire is used by God to vindicate His holiness (Isa 26:11; Gen 3:24; Exod 19:18; Psa 21:9; Mal 4:1)

Citation in 2 Thessalonians 1:8

this is another citation/allusion from Isaiah 66 in 2 Thessalonians. [See also Isaiah 66:4: “I will choose their delusions”, and 2 Thessalonians 2:11: “God shall send them strong delusion”].

The ‘interpretation’ and application of this Scripture by Paul confirms its true meaning: “And to you who are troubled [saints at thessalonica] rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [cp the chariots of Isa 66:15], In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord [cp Isa 2:10, 19, 21], and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe … in that day” (2 Thess 1:7–10).

It is the time of reward for God’s servants, as well as punishment for evil doers, the time of Christ’s second advent. This is the key to the meaning of verse 15.

It is a fearsome picture of judgment to come, commensurate with the sin of repudiating the Gospel of the Son of God.

Use is made of fire and chariots, and in verse 16 of “his sword” (cp 27:1; and Gen 3:24 where there is mention of fire and sword).

(2) This is not a local skirmish; this is Armageddon when all nations, here “all flesh”, will be gathered together against Jerusalem to battle (Joel 3; Zech 12, 14), involving Christ and the saints (Psa 149:6–9).

(3) There will be a huge loss of life, not only amongst the armies that invade Israel but through- out the world, as a result of the earthquake, etc (24:6; 59:16–19; 63:1–6; Psa 110:6; Jer 25:31–33; Joel 3:2).

66:17 (1) “They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens [see notes 65:3] (2) behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination [MLB vermin], and the mouse [unclean, Lev 11:29], (3) shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.

66:18 (4) For I know their works and their thoughts: (5) it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; (6) and they shall come, and see my glory.”

(1) The focus in these two verses is upon the apostates in Isaiah’s day (cp 1:28; 65:2–7, 11–12; 63:3–4), and as the judgment is future the description must include all false religions upon earth at the Lord’s return (cp Jer 16:16–20), Israelitish and Gentile. When men cease to hear the Word they are susceptible to believe anything – gardens, pigs and rodents included (Rom1:21–23)!

(2) RSV “following one in the midst”. Rotherham margin “one”. “‘After one in the midst’ … the mystagogue or chief celebrant in the mystic performance” – A.B. Davidson (Temple Bible). It would appear that these cultists were being led by a central figure as in the case of Jaazaniah, standing in the midst of the 70 elders of the house of Israel, in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery. They said, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth” (Ezek 8:10–12).

(3) Their fate is clearly spelled out!

(4) they thought like those in Ezekiel’s day, that Yahweh saw them not (Ezek 8:12), but He was fully cognisant of all, including even their thoughts!

(5) The time of the coming vengeance is defined – Armageddon – when He will gather all nations and tongues to the valley of Jehoshaphat and plead with them there for His people, Israel, and His heritage (Joel 3; Rev 16:16; Mic 4:11–13; Zech 12–14; Mal 4:1–3).

(6) The assembled nations will witness the outpouring of the wrath of God, the manifold judgments poured out. As a result they “see his glory” and “will be known in the eyes of many nations” (Ezek 38:18–23).

66:19–22 The survivors of Israel will regather their scattered kinsfolk. Some will be taken as priests

66:19 “And I will set a (1) sign among them, and I will send (2) those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish [western, Jonah 1:3, and eastern 1 Kgs 22:48], Pul, and Lud [Phut; NIV Libyans and Lydians; they are mentioned along with Cush {ie Ethiopia} as supporting Egypt in Ezekiel 30:5; Jer 46:9; Ezek 27:10] that draw the bow, to Tubal [Scythian tribes of the Caucasus in the far north cp Ezek 39:1–2], and Javan [NIV, LXX Greece], to the isles afar off , that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”

(1) Clearly this follows Armageddon and the appearance of Jesus their Messiah to them. They shall look on him whom they pierced and be struck dumb and converted (cp Zech 12:10–14; cp Luke 2:34 – Jesus would be a “sign which shall be spoken against” at his first advent).

(2) In the dreadful holocaust of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7), “he”(Jacob) will be saved, but two thirds of the regathered Jews in the land will be cut off : “Ï will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God”( Zech 13:9). This converted remnant will be sent to all the nations and isles world-wide as recounted in this verse, and they will declare Yahweh’s glory. Having witnessed the outpouring of His mighty power they will be well-placed to attest His omnipotence, His “glory among the Gentiles”.

66:20 “And (1) they shall bring all your brethren for (2) an offering [Heb minchah, used of the meal offering and more generally as a present cp Isa 18:7 [different word]; 2 Chron 32:23; Psa 68:29 [Heb shay, meaning a gift offered as homage]; Psa 45:12; 96:8] unto the LORD out of all the nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters [mg coaches], and upon mules, and upon swift beasts [Heb kirkaroth, from karar, to move in a circle, ie a vehicle on wheels], to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering [Heb minchah] in a (3) clean vessel into the house of the LORD.

66:21 And I will also take of them for (4) priests and for Levites, saith the LORD”.

(1) In this final Aliyah, the scattered remnant of Israel will be regathered to Zion. From their midst Yahweh says, “I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me,” in the “wilderness of the people”, for “they shall not enter into the land of Israel” (Ezek 20:33–38).

(2) This recalls the precedent of Yahweh taking the Levites instead of the firstborn to Him to be His priests (Num 3:12, 41, 45).

(3) Having been washed, purged, and converted, their stony hearts being changed into flesh (Ezek 36:25–27), they will be in themselves an acceptable offering to Him who looks on the heart.

(4) these will not belong to the Melchizedek order of priests, for they will have been made immortal at the judgment seat of Christ prior to his manifestation at Armageddon. these will be the mortal priests, the Levitical priests in the Kingdom (Mal 3:3–4). Ezekiel makes it clear that there will be two orders of priests in the Temple: those who “come near to me”, of the sons of Zadok, “that kept the charge of my sanctuary” (Melchizedek); and those who “shall not come near to me, to do the offer of a priest to me … But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house”, ie the mortal Levitical priests, “which went astray” (Ezek 44:10–16).

66:22 “(1) For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make [cp 65:17], shall (2) remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.”

(1) this is a guarantee of perpetuity, of eternal life, for “your seed” and “your name”. But to whom do these wonderful promises apply? They are the Servant’s seed: “he shall see his seed” (53:10); baptised into Christ they become the seed of Abraham and “heirs according to the promise”, and will inherit the promised land forever (Gen 13:15). With them God “will make an everlasting covenant” in which “everlasting joy shall be unto them” (Isa 61:7–8; cp 56:5).

(2) Just as the new heavens and earth will “remain before me”, “so shall … remain”. This word, “remain” is repeated emphasising that those to whom it refers belong to the eternal scheme of things and shall “endure”. “Their years shall have no end” (Psa 102:26, 27), or as expressed in verse 28 of this psalm, “The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee,” for they belong to “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb 13:8).

66:23–24 All flesh will come to Zion to worship Yahweh. They will be reminded of the consequences of rebellion

66:23 “And it shall come to pass, that from (1) one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, (2) shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”

(1) Under the Law, the new moon and Sabbath were days for regular observance and worship (Isa 1:13–14; Lev 23:3; Num 28:9–11), and will be reinstituted as such in the Millennium. Not only so, but “every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech 14:16). So the annual feasts will also be observed (see also Ezek 46:21–25).

(2) This is the constant theme of Scripture – all the nations that gathered against Zion for battle will be humbled, and instead, assemble there for worship (cp Psa 22:27; 65:2; 72:8–11; 86:9; Rev 15:4; Psalm 2; Zeph 3:8–9). Notice how the term “all flesh” appears three times in this chapter (v16, 23, 24). This message of coming judgment of the nations followed by the conversion of Israel and the building of the great Temple for universal worship is a very big part of this remarkable and sublime prophecy. Putting together the pieces from Isaiah provides us with a compelling and glorious vision of the coming Kingdom of our God (see Isaiah 2:2–5; 4:3–6; 6:3; 9:6–7; 11:4–11; 12:1–6; 24:23; 25:1–9; 26:1–4, 19–21; 27:1–6; 32:1–4; 35:1–10; 40:1–2; 42:13–16; 45:23–25; 49:9–12, 18–23; 51:3, 11; 52:9–10; 53:10–12; 54:1–5, 13–17; 55:12–13; 56:3– 8; 57:18–21; 58:14; 59:16–21; 60–62; 65:17–25).

66:24 (1) “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: (2) for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

(1) Having given us a glorious account of how the times of the Gentiles will conclude: of the Lord’s coming for judgment and salvation; of Zion becoming the fulcrum and focus of the worship of all flesh, Isaiah concludes with this sobering reminder. Ezekiel tells us that there will be a mausoleum for Gog: “I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers [RSV travellers] on the east of the sea [the Dead Sea]: and it shall stop the noses [mg or, mouths] of the passengers [RSV travellers]: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it the valley of Hamon-gog” (39:11). It will be important for the mortal nations in the Kingdom to be reminded of the reality of the consequences of sin, even in a reign of righteousness and peace (Isa 26:10).

This stark lesson, witnessed by worshippers at Zion will not prevent a final rebellion against “the beloved city” at the end of the millennial reign, when the saints, the kings and priests of the future age will be withdrawn. There will be a replay of Armageddon as leaders arise and seek to annihilate “the camp of the saints”, but fire from God out of heaven will destroy them (Rev 20:7–9).

(2) It is interesting that Jesus picks up these words to describe the ultimate utter destruction of those not prepared to sacrifice “part”, that is, the figurative “hand”, “eye” or “foot” now. The perpetual action of the destroying agents, “worm” and “fire”, are used to graphically depict the utter destruction of “hell”: Gehenna, the Jerusalem rubbish tip to the south of Jerusalem in his day. See also Isaiah 30:27–33.