INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 66
This chapter treats of the same things as the former, the rejection of the unbelieving Jews, and the regard had to them that did believe; the conversion of that people in the latter day; the calling of the Gentiles, and the happy state of the church in the last times. The causes of the rejection of the Jews were their unworthy notions of God, as if he was confined to the temple of Jerusalem, and to be pleased with external sacrifices, now both at an end under the Gospel dispensation; a better sacrifice being offered, and a more spiritual worship set up everywhere; which notions are considered, Isaiah 66:1, and because they were set upon their ways and works, and rejected the Gospel of Christ, they are threatened with ruin, Isaiah 66:3 and the disciples of Christ, whom they excommunicated and persecuted, have a promise of divine appearance for them, while vengeance shall be taken on their enemies, their city and temple, Isaiah 66:5, nevertheless, in the latter day, there will be a large and sudden conversion of this nation of the Jews, which is signified by the birth of them, which will be matter of great joy to all the true lovers of the interest of Christ, Isaiah 66:7 and what will add to the prosperity, joy, and comfort of the church of Christ at this time, will be the bringing in of the fulness of the Gentiles, Isaiah 66:12 at which time the vials of God's wrath will be poured out upon antichrist and his followers, Isaiah 66:15 and the chapter is concluded with a fresh account of large conversions of men of all nations, and of the union of Jews and Gentiles in one church state, which shall long remain, and be undisturbed by enemies, who will be all slain, and their carcasses looked upon with contempt, Isaiah 66:18.
Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne,.... The third heaven, the heaven of heavens, where angels and glorified saints are, and some in bodies, as Enoch and Elijah, and where now Christ is in human nature; this is the seat of the divine Majesty, where he in a most illustrious manner displays his glory; and therefore we are to look upwards to God in heaven, and direct all our devotion to him there, and not imagine that he dwells in temples made with hands; or is confined to any place, and much less to any on earth, as the temple at Jerusalem, the Jews boasted of, and trusted in; and which were the unworthy notions they had of God in the times of Christ and his disciples; to confute which these words are here said, and for this purpose are quoted and applied by Stephen, Acts 7:48. See Gill on Acts 7:48, Acts 7:49, Acts 7:50,
and the earth is my footstool: on which he treads, is below him, subject to him, and at his dispose; and therefore is not limited to any part of it, or included in any place in it; though he for a while condescended to make the cherubim his throne, and the ark his footstool, in the most holy place in the temple; which were all figurative of other and better things, and so no more used:
where is the house that ye build unto me? what house can be built for such an immense Being? and how needless as well as fruitless is it to attempt it? where can a place be found to build one in, since the heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool? and therefore, if any place, it must be some that is without them both, and that can hold both; but what space can be conceived of that can contain such a throne and footstool, and much less him that sits thereon? see 1 Kings 8:27,
and where is the place of my rest? for God to take up his rest and residence in, as a man does in his house? no such place can be found for him, nor does he need any; indeed the temple was built for an house of rest for the ark of the Lord, which before was moved from place to place; but then this was merely typical of the church, which God has chosen for his rest, and where he will dwell, as well as of heaven, the resting place of his people with him to all eternity; no place on earth is either his rest or theirs.
For all those things hath mine hand made,.... The heavens and the earth, which are his throne and footstool; and therefore, since he is the Creator of all things, he must be immense, omnipresent, and cannot be included in any space or place:
and all those things have been, saith the Lord; or "are"
but to this man will I look. The Septuagint and Arabic versions read, by way of interrogation, "and to whom shall I look?" and so the Syriac version, which adds, "in whom shall I dwell?" not in temples made with hands; not in the temple of Jerusalem; but in the true tabernacle which God pitched, and not man; in Christ the antitypical temple, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and in whom Jehovah the Father dwells personally; see Hebrews 8:2 as also in every true believer, who is the temple of the living God, later described, for these words may both respect Christ and his members; the characters well agree with him:
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word; Christ was poor literally, and his estate and condition in this world was very low and mean, 2 Corinthians 8:9, or "afflicted"
he also trembled at the word of God; that is, had a suitable and becoming reverence of it; it was at the word of the Lord he assumed human nature; and according as his Father taught, and gave him commandment, so he spake; and, agreeably to it, laid down his life, and became obedient to death: and now the Lord looks, to him; he looks to him as his own Son, with a look of love, and even as in human nature, and is well pleased with all he did and suffered in it; he looked to him as the surety of his people, for the payment of their debts, and the security and salvation of their persons; and he now looks to his obedience and righteousness, with which he is well pleased, and imputes it to his people, and to his blood, sacrifice, and satisfaction, on account of which he forgives their sins, and to his person for the acceptance of theirs; and he looks to them in him, and has a gracious regard for them: they also may be described as "poor"; poor in spirit, spiritually poor, as they see and own themselves to be, and seek to Christ for the riches of grace and glory, which they behold in him, and expect from him; and are both "afflicted and humble", and become the one by being the other;
and of a contrite spirit, their hard hearts being broken by the Spirit and word of God, and melted by the love and grace of God; and so contrite, not in a mere legal, but evangelical manner:
and such tremble at the Word of God; not at the threatenings of wrath in it, or in a servile slavish manner; but have a holy reverence for it
He that killeth an ox, is as if he slew a man,.... Not that killed the ox of his neighbour, which, according to law, he was to pay for; or that killed one for food, which was lawful to be done; but that slew one, and offered it as a sacrifice; not blamed because blind or lame, or had any blemish in it, and so unfit for sacrifice; or because not rightly offered, under a due sense of sin, and with repentance for it, and faith in Christ; but because all sacrifices of this kind are now abolished in Gospel times, to which this prophecy belongs; Christ the great sacrifice being offered up; and therefore to offer sacrifice, which, notwithstanding the unbelieving Jews continued daily, till it was made to cease by the destruction of their temple, was a great offence to God; it was as grievous to him as offering their children to Moloch; or as the murder of a man; and was indeed a trampling under foot the Son of God, and accounting his blood and sacrifice as nothing, which was highly displeasing to God:
he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; the lamb for the daily sacrifice, morning and evening, or the passover lamb, or any other: this now is no more acceptable to God, than if a dog, a very impure creature, was slain, his head cut off, and offered on the altar; which was so abominable to the Lord, that the price of one might not be brought into his house, Deuteronomy 23:18,
he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; the meat offering, made of fine flour, on which oil was poured, and frankincense put, Leviticus 2:1, however rightly composed it might be, and offered according to law, yet now of no more esteem with God than blood, which was forbidden by the same law; nay, than the blood of swine, which creature itself, according to the ceremonial law, was unclean, and might not be eaten, and much less be offered up, and still less its blood, Leviticus 11:7,
and he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol; or that "remembers incense"
yea, they have chosen their own ways: which were evil, and opposite to the ways of God, especially to the way of salvation by Christ; they gave heed to the traditions of the elders; continued the service of the ceremonial law; and set up their own righteousness, in opposition to the doctrines, ordinances, sacrifice, and righteousness of Christ:
and their soul delighteth in their abominations: things which were abominable unto God; as were their traditions, which were preferred to the word of God, and by which they made it void; and their sacrifices being offered up contrary to his will, and with a wicked mind; and their righteousness being imperfect, and trusted in, to the neglect and contempt of the righteousness of his Son.
I also will choose their delusions,.... Suffer them to approve and make choice of such persons that should delude and deceive them; as the Scribes and Pharisees, who were wolves in sheep's clothing, and through their appearance of sanctity deceived many, and by their long prayers devoured widows' houses; and as these false prophets, so likewise false Christs, many of which arose after the true Messiah was come, and was rejected by them, whom they embraced, and, by whom they were deluded and ruined, Matthew 7:15.
and will bring their fears upon them; the things they feared; such as the sword, famine, and pestilence; and especially the Romans, who, they feared, would come and take away their place and nation, John 11:48,
because, when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear; that is, when Christ called unto the Jews, in the external ministry of the word, to come and hear him, they refused to come, nor would they suffer others to answer to this call, and hear him, and attend on his ministry; which rejection of him and his Gospel was the cause of their ruin:
but they did evil before mine eyes; openly and publicly to his face; blasphemed and contradicted his word, and despised his ordinances: and chose that in which I delighted not; their oral law, their legal sacrifices, and their own self-righteousness, as well as their immoralities.
Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word,.... This is said to the comfort of the believing Jews, who are thus described; See Gill on Isaiah 66:2,
your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake; as the unbelieving Jews, the Pharisees; and so Jarchi interprets it of the children of the Pharisee, that say, Depart, ye defiled; who were brethren to them that believed in Christ, by blood, by birth, by country, yet hated them, though without cause; as they did Christ, in whom they believed; and cast them out of their affections, and company, and conversation; out of their own houses, and out of the synagogues; excommunicated them from fellowship with them, and that for the sake of their believing in Christ, and professing his name; having made a law, that whoever confessed him should be put out of the synagogue, or excommunicated; and the word here used signifies that excommunication among the Jews called "niddui"; see John 15:19 these said,
let the Lord be glorified; that is, they pretended, by all this hatred of and aversion to those of their brethren that believed in Christ, and by their persecution of them, that all their desire and design were the glory of God, imagining that, in so doing, they did God good service; see John 16:2. R. Moses the priest (not the Egyptian, or Maimonides, as some commentators suggest) thinks the sense is, that these unbelievers complained, as if the Lord was "heavy" unto them, and imposed burdensome precepts and commands upon them they were not able to perform; and which, he says, is always the sense of the word when in this form; but Aben Ezra observes, that he forgot the passage in Job 14:21, where it is used in the sense of honour and glory. This sense Kimchi also takes notice of; but seems not to be the sense of the passage; and, were it so, it was a false suggestion of those unbelievers; for Christ's "yoke is easy, and his burden light", Matthew 11:30, see John 6:60,
but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed: that is, the Lord shall appear, either in a providential way, as he did for the Christians at Jerusalem, before the destruction of it; directing them to go out from thence, as they did, to a place called Pella, where they were safe, and had a sufficiency of good things; while the unbelieving Jews were closely besieged, and reduced to the greatest straits and miseries, and so to shame and confusion: or else this may respect the second coming, the glorious appearance of Christ, which will be to the joy of those believing Jews, and of all his people; since he will appear to their salvation, and they shall appear with him in glory, and see him as he is, Hebrews 9:28, and to the shame, confusion, and destruction of those that have pierced him, despised and rejected him, and persecuted his people, Revelation 1:7.
A voice of noise from the city,.... From the city of Jerusalem, as the Targum; so Kimchi, who says, that in the days of the Messiah shall go out of Jerusalem the voice of noise concerning Gog and Magog: this indeed respects the days of the Messiah, but such as are now past, and a voice of crying in the city of Jerusalem, at, the taking and destruction of it by the Romans; when were heard from it the noisy voices of the Roman soldiers, triumphing and rejoicing at it, and the shrieks of the inhabitants, running about from place to place for shelter; so when destruction and desolation are come upon any place, a voice or a cry is said to come from it; see Jeremiah 48:3,
a voice from the temple; either from heaven, as Aben Ezra; or rather from the temple at Jerusalem, of the priests there hindered from doing their service, and starving for want of sustenance; or of the people that fled thither for security, but forced from thence by the soldiers; and especially a voice of crying and lamentation was heard, when set on fire. Some illustrate this by what the priests heard in the temple a little before the destruction of it, a rustling and a noise like persons shifting and moving, and a voice in the holy of holies, saying, "let us go hence"; as also the words of Jesus the son of Ananus, a countryman, who went about uttering these words,
"a voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and against the temple, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, a voice against all the people:'
this he did before the war began, nor could he be persuaded to desist from it, but continued it afterwards; going on the walls of the city, saying,
"woe, woe to the city, and to the temple, and to the people, woe to myself also;'
and while he was speaking the last words, a stone, cast from a Roman engine, killed him, as Josephus
a voice of the Lord, that rendereth recompence to his enemies; for the Lord's voice was in all this, and his hand in the destruction of those people; it was according to his appointment, direction, and order, in righteous judgment for their sins, they being his implacable enemies, that would not have him to rule over them, Luke 19:14.
Before she travailed, she brought forth,.... That is, Zion, as appears from the following verse: lest it should be thought that the interest of Christ would be swallowed up and lost in the destruction of the Jews, this, and what follows, are said concerning the conversion of many of that people, both in the first times of the Gospel, and in the latter day, as well as concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the uniting of both in one church state. Zion, or the church of God, is here compared to a pregnant woman, that brings forth suddenly and easily, without feeling any pain, or going through any travail, or having any birth throes; at least, feeling very little pain and travail, and having very few pangs, and those, as soon as they come, are gone, and an immediate delivery ensues:
before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child; like a woman before she is scarcely sensible of any pain; as soon as ever she perceives the least uneasiness of this kind, is delivered of a son, to her great joy, and the joy of all about her. This is to be understood, not of the sudden and easy deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, by the proclamation of Cyrus, which occasioned great joy; much less of the birth of Christ, of the Virgin Mary at the inn, and in the stable, which is the sense of some Popish interpreters; much better do some Jewish writers interpret it of the birth and appearance of Christ, before the troubles of their nation came on; so the Targum,
"before distress comes to her, she shall be redeemed; and before trembling comes upon her, her King shall be revealed;'
that is, the King Messiah; and so some copies have it, according to Galatinus
"before he should be born that should bring Israel into the last captivity, the Redeemer should be born;'
that is, as he explains it, before the birth of Titus, who destroyed the temple and city of Jerusalem, the Messiah should be born; but the passage refers not to his natural but mystical birth, or the regeneration of a spiritual seed in his church; or of the conversion of the first Christians both in Judea and in the Gentile world; who were like a man child, strong and robust, able to bear and did endure great hardships for the sake of Christ, and do him much work and service, in which they persevered to the end; see Galatians 4:26, as the first Christians did through various persecutions, until the times of Constantine, by whom they were delivered from them, and who is prophesied of as the church's man child, as in Revelation 12:2.
Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things?.... Such numerous conversions, as after related; suggesting that they were wonderful and surprising, unheard of, what had never been seen in the world before, and which were amazing and astonishing to the church herself; see Isaiah 49:21,
shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? as if it was said the thing about to be related was as wonderful as if all the women in the world should bring forth their children in one day, or bring forth as many at once as would fill the whole earth; or as surprising as if the earth should all at once send out its herbs, plants, and trees, as it did on the third day of the creation, Genesis 1:11 which now gradually spring up, some in one month, and some in another, and some are months in their production:
or shall a nation be born at once? was ever such a thing heard of? yet this will be the case of the Jews in the latter day, when they shall be all converted and saved; and which shall be done suddenly and at once; see Hosea 1:10, of which the conversion of them, in the first times of the Gospel, was an earnest and pledge, when three thousand were convinced, converted, and regenerated, in one day, under one sermon; and at another time, under the word, two thousand, if not five thousand: thus Christ had,
from the womb of the morning, or at the first break of the Gospel day, "the dew of his youth", or numbers of souls born again to him, like the drops of the morning dew; see Acts 2:41,
for as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children; this shows that the preceding verse must be understood of some travail and pain, though comparatively little, and so soon over, that it was as if none; and this is to be understood of the pains which Gospel ministers take in preaching the word, which is the means of regeneration, and they the instruments of it; and so are called fathers, who through the Gospel beget souls to Christ; and of their anxious concern for the conversion of sinners, and the formation of Christ in them, which is called a travailing in birth; see 1 Peter 1:23, Romans 8:22 and it may also design the earnest prayers of the church and its members, striving and wrestling with God, being importunate with him, that the word preached might be useful for the good of souls; and particularly their earnest and fervent prayers for the conversion of the Jews, which will soon be brought about, when a spirit of grace and supplication is not only poured on them, but upon the saints in general, to pray fervently and earnestly for it.
Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth, saith the Lord?.... Or, "to the place of breaking" forth of children, as in Hosea 13:13, the womb, and the mouth of it: or, "shall I break or open" that, so some
"shall I begin a thing, and not be able to finish it?'
no, he is a rock, and his work is perfect, as in creation and redemption, so in regeneration and conversion; as may be concluded, from his power to effect it, and his promise to do it; the grace of Christ, and the indwelling of the Spirit; the impotency of everything to hinder it, and the glory of the three divine Persons concerned in it. As in the natural birth it is he that gives strength to conceive, forms the embryo in the womb, ripens it for the birth, and takes the child out of its mother's womb; so he does all that answers hereunto in the spiritual birth.
Shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb, saith thy God? no, I will not. As God has regenerated many souls in the first times of the Gospel, and many more since, in various nations, in each of the ages and periods of time; so he has not ceased, nor will he cease from this work, until all his elect are born again; for everyone that is chosen of the Father, given to the Son, taken into covenant, and redeemed by his blood, shall be begotten again to a lively hope of a glorious inheritance; God will not shut the womb of conversion until they are all brought to faith in Christ, and repentance towards God. He will beget many more sons and daughters; and he will cause the fulness of the Gentiles to be brought forth and brought in, and convert his ancient people the Jews; all his promises shall be performed, and all prophecies relating to these things shall be accomplished.
Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her,.... The church; she bringing forth so many spiritual children to Christ; just as, when a woman is delivered of a child, her friends and neighbours congratulate her upon it, and rejoice with her on that account; as Elisabeth's neighbours and relations did, at the birth of John the Baptist, Luke 1:57, so the church's friends here are called together to rejoice with her, at the numerous birth and conversion of souls in her, than which nothing is more joyful to the saints; see Luke 15:6,
all ye that love her; wish her well, and pray for her peace and prosperity; all that love God love his church, the habitation of his house, the place where his honour dwells; all that love Christ love her who is his spouse and bride, and purchased by his blood; all that love the word and ordinances love the church where they are administered:
rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her; that had mourned for her, when things went ill with her; these are they that mourn in Zion, and for Zion, because of the sins of her professors; corruptions in doctrine, discipline, and worship; declensions in grace; want of love to one another, and few instances of conversion: but now things being the reverse, and it going well with her, they are called upon to rejoice exceedingly with her; for such is the sympathizing spirit of the saints, that they rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep, Romans 12:15.
That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breast of her consolations,.... This, according to our version, expresses the end of the church's friends being called together to rejoice with her, that they might partake of her joys and comforts, delights and pleasures: but the words may be better rendered, either, according to Kimchi's sense, "therefore shall ye suck"
that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory; or, "for" or "because ye milk out", "may" or "shall milk out"
be delighted with the abundance of her glory; or, "the brightness of it"
For thus saith the Lord, behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,.... As the river Euphrates, so the Targum; or as the Nile, which overflowed Egypt, and made it fruitful; or as any flowing river, large and spreading, continuing to flow, and brings blessings with it where it comes; and so denotes the abundance of this peace, the perpetuity of it, and its blessed effects. This respects not the first times of the Gospel; for though Christ the peacemaker came and made peace by his blood, and went and preached peace to Jews and Gentiles, and many enjoyed spiritual peace in believing, flowing from his blood and righteousness, yet there was very little outward peace to the churches of Christ; and when at any time had, did not last long: but, in the latter day, not only spiritual peace, which passeth all understanding, and joy unspeakable and full of glory, will be extended unto and possessed by the saints; but outward peace in great abundance, and of lasting continuance, with all kind of prosperity, temporal and spiritual, Psalm 72:7, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream; like the Nile, that overflows; meaning either the vast number of converts, from among the Gentiles, that shall flow into the church, and especially many of their great men, princes, nobles, even kings and queens, who shall be nursing fathers and nursing mothers to her; see Isaiah 60:3, or their riches, which are the honour and glory they shall bring with them to the church in great abundance, and shall cheerfully and freely expend them in the service and worship of God, Isaiah 60:6 so Kimchi interprets it of their wealth and substance:
then shall ye suck; the milk of the Gentiles, and the breasts of kings; that is, partake of their good things, Isaiah 60:16 or the church's breasts of consolation, the sincere milk of the word and ordinances, Isaiah 60:11, this is spoken to the friends of Zion, and lovers of Jerusalem, newly converted persons, Isaiah 66:10,
ye shall be borne upon her sides, or "side"
and be dandled upon her knees: as darling children are, who are taken into the lap, and played with, and are the delight, the exceeding great delight, of their parents; and where they delight to be, as the word
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you,.... Though ordinances are means, and ministers are instruments of comfort, God is the sole efficient cause of it; and very wonderful it is that he should condescend to administer it, since he is an immense and infinite Being, the high and lofty One, possessed of all perfections, and yet deigns to revive the spirit of the humble and contrite; since he is the Maker of heaven and earth, and all things, and those he comforts are dust and ashes; and especially since they have sinned against him, and rendered themselves abominable to him; and moreover, seeing he is so strictly just and righteous, and they also continually guilty of backslidings and revoltings from him: and yet there are many things which confirm that he will comfort them, as he here declares; since he has loved them with an everlasting love, insomuch as to give his Son for them, and to quicken them when dead in sin; and seeing he has taken them into covenant with himself, and is their covenant God and Father; and, besides, has promised to do it, who never fails, and who is able, being God all sufficient. The Targum is,
"my Word shall comfort you;'
his essential Word Christ, the consolation of Israel, from whom all true and solid comforts flow; or the written word, read or heard, and especially as applied by the Spirit of God, who is another Comforter, and whose consolations the people of God walk in, nor are they small. Now the manner in which the Lord comforts the saints, especially young converts, is the most kind, tender, and affectionate; as a tender hearted mother comforts her child; when it has fallen and hurt itself, and cries, she takes it up in her arms, hugs it in her bosom, and speaks comfortably to it, to still and quiet it. The children of God often fall into sin, and hurt themselves, their peace and joy, break their bones, and lose the enjoyment of God; when, being sensible of their evils, they roar as David did, and weep bitterly as Peter; then the Lord speaks comfortably unto them, and bids them be of good cheer, for their sins are forgiven them. Or as, when a mother has an afflicted child more so than the rest, her heart yearns most after it, and she does all she can to comfort it. The people of God are an afflicted people, and their afflictions are grievous and painful; and they cry to God in their distress, who pities them, visits them, looks upon their afflictions, grants them his presence, supplies them with his grace, supports with his everlasting arms, makes their bed for them, and comforts them in all their tribulations. Or as, when a child behaves ill, the mother looks shy at it, and carries herself at a distance; which being observed, the child takes it to heart, and then that affects her, and she returns to it, and comforts it: thus, for faults committed, the Lord hides himself from his people, which grieves and troubles them; and then he gathers them to himself with great mercies, and with lovingkindness has mercy on them; and having also chastised them for their sins; and hearing them bemoaning themselves, his heart is moved towards them, and he restores comforts to them, to their mourning souls; see Isaiah 49:14, it is in the original, "as a man whom his mother comforteth"
And when ye see this,.... All the above things prophesied of come to pass; the conversion of the Jews; the peaceable and prosperous condition of the church of Christ; and perceive, feel, and enjoy the comforts of God in an experimental manner:
your heart shall rejoice; for nothing can be matter of greater joy than these; these cause an inward, hearty, and sincere joy, and not mere outward expressions of it:
and your bones shall flourish like an herb; in a well watered garden, or on which the dew lies; which revives, lifts up its head, and is green and flourishing: so the hearts of God's people are comforted and filled with joy, it renews their spiritual strength; the bones that were dried up with sorrow become fat and flourishing and like a garden of herbs, whose springs fail not; see Proverbs 17:22. The people of the Jews, in their present state, are like dry hones; but these dry bones shall live at the word of God, and through the power of his grace, and stand upon their feet, and which will cause great joy to others, and be is life from the dead. This passage Abarbinel and other Jewish writers interpret of the resurrection of the dead; for they believe the same body will rise, and the same bones revive. They have indeed a fabulous notion of the bone "luz", which they say is never consumed, and from which the rest will be restored; but, letting this pass, it may be observed that they use these words with others at the funeral of their dead, and when they return from the grave, thereby expressing their faith in this article. The ceremony used by them is this,
"as they return from the grave, everyone of them plucks up grass from off the ground twice or thrice, and casts it over his head behind him, saying those words of the psalmist, "and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth", Psalm 72:16 and this they do, to signify their hopes of the resurrection of the dead, who shall flourish as the grass, as the prophet says, "your bones shall flourish as the herb"
or tender grass; as that springs up after it is cut down, so will the bones of the dead revive again, after they have been reduced to dust in the grave; and if that experiment is fact, said to be made by chemists, that herbs may be caused to grow up out of their ashes, it will serve very much to illustrate the words taken in this sense; which is done in the following manner,
"they take a rose, gillyflower, or any other plant, in the spring, in its full consistence, and beat the whole of it in a mortar to a paste, and extract a kind of ashes or salt out of it, which they put up in glasses, stopped and sealed; and, by applying a candle or a soft fire to them, the herbs or plants are perceived, by little and little, to rise up again out of their salt or ashes, in their several proper forms, as they did in the field
And the hand of the Lord shall be known towards his servants: in making them thus joyful, prosperous, and fruitful; in protecting and preserving them, and, in supplying all their wants; his hand of power, which is not shortened that he cannot save; and his hand of grace, which is opened to distribute to the necessities of his people:
and his indignation towards his enemies; the worshipper, of the beast, the followers of antichrist, who will drink deep of the wine of the wrath of God, poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, he will put into their hands; whose indignation is such as is intolerable, there is no standing before it, or sustaining it, or abiding under it; see Revelation 14:9. Kimchi says this will be fulfilled in the war of Gog and Magog.
For, behold, the Lord will come with fire,.... Either with material fire, with which mystical Babylon or Rome shall be burnt, Revelation 18:8, or with indignation and wrath, which shall be poured out like fire, and be as intolerable and consuming as that:
and with his chariots like a whirlwind; making a great noise, and striking great terror; alluding to chariots in which men used formerly to fight:
to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire; a heap of words, to show the fierceness of his wrath, and how severe his rebuke of enemies will be; which will be not a rebuke in love, as of his own people, but in a way of vindictive wrath.
For by fire, and by his sword, will the Lord plead with all flesh,.... With the Mahometans, the Turks, the Ottoman empire, against whom he will call for a sword, and will rain upon them fire and brimstone, signified by Gog and Magog, Ezekiel 38:22 and with the other antichristian powers at the battle of Armageddon; and when the fourth vial will be poured upon the sun, and men will be scorched with fire; see Revelation 16:8,
and the slain of the Lord shall be many; that is, those that will be slain by the Lord, both in the attempt of the Turks to recover the land of Canaan out of the hands of the Jews, possessed of it; whose numbers of slain will be so many, that the burying of them will last seven months, Ezekiel 39:12 and in the battle between the Christian princes, Christ at the head of them, and the antichristian armies, led on by the beast and the kings of the earth; when the fowls of the air will be invited to the great supper of the Lord, to eat the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men, so great will the slaughter be, Revelation 19:17, see also Isaiah 11:13.
They that sanctify themselves,.... This is a description of the enemies of the Lord, and of his people, who shall be slain at this time; not who are sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God, but who sanctify themselves, pretend to make themselves holy, and give out that they are holier than others; professing great outward sanctity, as the Papists do, but destitute of real inward holiness: or, "that prepare themselves", as the Targum; to go and worship such an idol, on such a day, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it, and as the above followers of the man of sin do, Revelation 9:20.
that purify themselves in the gardens; in pools or ponds of water in gardens. This Kimchi understands of the Persians, by whom he means the Mahometans, who bathe and purify themselves daily, but yet are unclean in their lives and actions; and it is true also of the Papists, who pretend to purify themselves with their holy water in their churches. "Behind one tree in the midst": so Aben Ezra supplies it. Some take Achad, rendered "one", to be the name of an idol. Macrobius
"that sanctify themselves; these are the sons of Edom (that is, the Christians), whose custom it is to move their fingers here and there (that is, to sanctify themselves with the sign of the cross): that purify, themselves; these are the sons of Ishmael (that is, the Turks), whose custom is to wash their hands and their feet; which custom of washing they had from Esau and the Jews: "after one in the midst"; this signifies the cross of the Edomites (that is, the Christians), by which they sanctify, themselves;'
the Papists he means. Ben Melech understands it of one pool in the midst of the garden; and observes, that others interpret it of one of the groves in the midst of it.
Eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse; the eating of swine's flesh, and the mouse, were forbidden by the law of Moses, Leviticus 11:7 and some think by the "abomination" is meant the "weasel", since that is mentioned in the above law with the "mouse"; though it may be rather things offered to idols, or blood, are designed. Mice have been eaten, at least some sort of them, as the dormouse, by some people, particularly the Romans, and counted delicious food, as Sanctius upon the place, from various authors, has showed; and Bochart
For I know their works, and their thoughts,.... That is, of the persons before described; their evil works and thoughts, which are known to Christ the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, whose eyes are as a flame of fire to pierce and penetrate into them, Revelation 2:18 or, "as for me
that I will gather all nations and tongues; not against Jerusalem in the war of Gog and Magog, as the Jewish commentators, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it, illustrating it by Zechariah 14:2 but to Christ and his church, by the preaching of the Gospel; which in the latter day will be published to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and that immediately upon the destruction of both the western and eastern antichrists; and particularly, by the means of the latter, way will be made for it into the kingdoms of the east, which thereby will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, Revelation 14:6,
and they shall come and see my glory; the glory of Christ's person, offices, and grace; the glory of his Gospel, worship, and ordinances; the glory that will be upon Zion the church, and on all which there will be a defence, and a glorious sight it will be; see Isaiah 4:5.
And I will set a sign among them,.... Either a miraculous sign, something wonderful, as the word is often used, Exodus 4:8, not the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, in the presence of men of all nations; or the miracles wrought in the Gentile world by the apostles, in confirmation of the Gospel; but rather the wonderful conversion of the Jews, Isaiah 66:8, or those wonders, the time of the end of which is inquired, Daniel 12:6 or else some distinguishing sign or mark is meant; such an one as was set on Cain, and on those that sighed and mourned for the sins of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 9:4, and may intend the seal or mark of Christ's Father's name, in the foreheads of his people, to distinguish and preserve them from being hurt with others, Revelation 7:3, or, best of all, a sign or ensign to gather persons together; which, though not the usual word for an ensign, is sometimes so used, as in Psalm 74:4, and so may intend Christ, who is a sign that has been spoken against, Luke 2:34 and is set up in the ministration of the Gospel, to gather souls unto him, Isaiah 10:10, and which, as it was attended with great success in the first times of the Gospel, will also in the latter day, Isaiah 2:2,
and I will send those that escape of them; meaning, not the apostles and first preachers of the word, that escaped the perverseness and frowardness of the Jewish nation, their rage and persecution, and the wrath that came upon them to the uttermost; but those that shall escape at the defeat of the Turks, and at the ruin of mystical Babylon, and at the fall of the tenth part of the city, Revelation 11:13 and who also, in a spiritual sense, will escape the pollutions of the world, through the grace of God, and knowledge of Christ; the vengeance of divine justice; the curses of the law, and wrath to come; hell and eternal damnation, by fleeing to Christ; these, some of them, will be made preachers of the Gospel; as who so fit as those to warn sinners of their danger, to show men the way of salvation, and publish the good tidings of the Gospel, and will be sent of God with a commission from him "unto the nations"; in order to gather them to Christ and his church, and behold his glory: particularly to "Tarshish", a word sometimes used for the sea; and the Vulgate Latin version renders it "the nations in the sea"; or, as the Targum, the province of the sea, the maritime provinces, those that lie nearest the sea; the Persian and Arabian seas; or Tartessus in Spain; and may be put for the whole country:
Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow; which some take to be the same with Put and Lud, or Lybia and Lydia, which go together, Jeremiah 46:9 both countries in Africa, famous for archery; and the Vulgate Latin version renders it Africa and Lydia; though Bochart, and after him Vitringa, take Pul to be the same with Philas, an island upon the Nile, above Syene, between Ethiopia and Egypt, of which Diodorus Siculus
to Tubal and Javan; which the same version renders Italy and Greece:
and the isles afar off; even as far as the West Indies: what places and countries are exactly and precisely meant cannot be determined; only, in general, that into various parts of the world, east, west, north, and south, even the most distant, the Gospel and Gospel ministers shall be sent:
even to those that have not heard my fame; or, "my report"
neither have seen my glory; in the glass of the Gospel, that having never been set before them; and so have never seen the glory of Christ, as the only begotten of the Father; his comeliness and beauty, the fulness of grace in him, nor any of the excellencies of him, either of his person or offices:
and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles; this, those that are escaped, or the preachers sent to the nations, shall do; they shall declare publicly, plainly, and clearly, that Christ is the brightness of the divine Glory; shall declare the glory of his deity; of his rich grace and love to sinners, in suffering and dying for them; of his salvation, how great, complete, suitable, and glorious it is; with all the glorious truths of the Gospel, peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life, by Christ.
And they shall bring all your brethren, for an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations,.... This is not said of the Jews, either with respect to the first times of the Gospel; not of the devout men of all nations that heard the apostles on the day of Pentecost; nor of those the Gospel met with in the Gentile world, by the ministry of the apostles, to whom Peter and James write their epistles; or, in the latter day, such who remain in the several nations after the general conversion of that people; but this is to be understood of the Gentiles, and of the bringing in the fulness of them, by means of those who shall escape the calamities of those times, the destruction of the eastern and western antichrist; some of which will become preachers of the word, and be the instruments of doing this work: here the Gentiles are called the brethren of the converted Jews, as all the Lord's people are brethren one of another, be they of what nation they will; they are all in a spiritual sense the seed and children of Abraham, who is the father of all that believe; and so all believers are brethren, Jews and Gentiles; yea, they are all the children of God, who is the one God and Father of all, in the covenant of grace, which is common to them all; and by adoption, and through regeneration, the evidence of it. Christ stands in the relation of an elder brother to them all; and the church universal, the Jerusalem above, is the mother of them all; they are mother's children, and so brethren; they are partakers of the same blessings and privileges, and heirs of the same promises, grace, and glory: now all those that are predestinated to the adoption of sons, that are the children of God scattered abroad, and whom God has promised to call by his grace, shall be brought in; not one shall be left behind; such is the will of God, which cannot be resisted; such their election of grace, which stands firm on the sovereign will of God, and, always obtains; such the suretyship of Christ, and the purchase of his blood, which make the bringing of them absolutely necessary; and the Lord knows where they are, and will send his Gospel and ministers to them, to fetch them in, let them be in ever such distant and obscure places: and these shall be brought,
for an offering to the Lord; which shall be offered to him, either by the persons that bring them, the ministers of the Gospel, who are the priests of the Lord, Isaiah 66:21 and who offer, not slain beasts, as under the law, but living persons, men and women, converted under their ministry; whom they bring to the Lord, and to his house, as trophies of his victorious grace, to serve and glorify him. The Apostle Paul seems to allude to this passage, and to give the sense of it, Romans 15:16 or else by themselves that are brought; who shall present their souls and bodies a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice unto God, as their reasonable service; not to atone for their sins, but in gratitude to the Lord, as being his, and not their own, Romans 12:1 the means by which they shall be brought follows:
upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts; which Kimchi and Aben Ezra interpret of camels, the better sort of them; but the Targum renders it, with praises; and so Jarchi understands it of the songs of those that skip and dance for joy; see 1 Samuel 6:16, which carriages are not to be understood literally, but figuratively, expressive of the Gospel ministry, which is the vehicle of salvation, and in which souls are brought to Christ, and to his church; and various sorts being mentioned, may signify the multitudes that shall be gathered in, and the different accommodations made, according to different circumstances; some that are strong and eager, and impatient of church communion, are brought on more speedily, on horses, and swift beasts; and others more weakly, and can move but slowly, in chariots and litters; and all denote the safe and honourable way and manner in which they are conducted, as well as the welcome they may expect to have in the churches of Christ; since all manner of help is afforded to them. The horse is an emblem of the Gospel ministry, and so is the chariot, Revelation 6:2 the place they will be brought unto is,
to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord; not Jerusalem literally taken, though it is highly probable it will be at this time a place of great resort of all Christians; but the church, often called by this name in this prophecy, and in this chapter; a "mountain", for height, visibility, and especially for firmness and immovableness; a "holy" one, where holy things, words, and ordinances are ministered, holy persons meet, and none else should be members of it; hither converted persons are brought, to partake of those holy things, and have communion with holy persons, by means of the ministers of the Gospel, who invite, exhort, encourage, and persuade, and use the most forcible arguments they can, but after all are but instruments, God is the cause; it is he that brings souls to Zion, Jeremiah 3:14 the manner follows:
as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord; just as the "minchah", or meat offering, was brought in a pure and clean vessel into the sanctuary of the Lord, and there presented before him; as all the vessels there were Holy Ones, Ezra 8:28 denoting who those should be that should be brought and offered; persons whose hearts were purified by faith in the blood of Christ; called with a holy calling; sanctified by the Holy Ghost; and appearing in the beauties of holiness of heart and life. The Septuagint version renders it, "with psalms"; and the Arabic version, "with a jubilee"; suggesting they should be brought with joy and gladness; see Psalm 45:15. The ancient Jews
And I will also take of them for priests,.... That is, of the Gentiles, the brethren brought as an offering to the Lord; and therefore must respect Gospel times, when the Aaronic priesthood would be changed and cease, which admitted not of Gentiles, nor any of any other tribe in Israel, but the tribe of Levi; nor is this to be understood of the spiritual priesthood common to all believers, 1 Peter 2:5 since of those converted Gentiles brought, not all, but only some of them, would be taken for priests; and therefore can only be interpreted of the ministers of the word, who, in Old Testament language, are called priests, though never in the New Testament; but elders, bishops, overseers, pastors, and teachers. The first preachers of the Gospel were Jews, as the twelve apostles, the seventy disciples, Paul and Barnabas, and others; but when the Gospel was preached, and churches planted in the Gentile world, then priests, or pastors, or elders, were taken out from among them, and ordained over the churches everywhere; and which have continued, more or less, ever since; and will be more abundant in the latter day; whose work and office is not to offer up slain beasts, as the priests of old; but to point to the sacrifice of Christ, to the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of men; and to teach the knowledge of crucified Christ, and the several doctrines and duties of the Christian religion, as the priests formerly taught the knowledge of the law, Malachi 2:7,
and for Levites, saith the Lord; this still more clearly shows that the prophecy belongs to the Gospel dispensation, and is to be understood figuratively and spiritually; for none but those of the tribe of Levi could be taken for Levites in a literal sense; but here Gentiles are said to be taken for such, and design men in Gospel churches. The Levites, as their name signifies, were such as were "joined" to others; they ministered to the priests, and assisted them, and had the charge of the temple, and the vessels of it, to whom deacons now answer; who are helps and assistants to the ministers of the word: their business is to serve tables, and to take care of the secular affairs of the church; so that this is a prophecy of the churches in the latter day being truly organized, and filled with proper officers, as well as with numerous members.
For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make,.... Not "have made"; for this is not to be understood of the heavens and the earth made new in the beginning, and which continue so without any change or alteration; though sometimes the perpetuity of the church, which is here predicted, is set forth by the duration of those, Psalm 89:36 but either of the new state of things under the Gospel dispensation, which still continues, promised Isaiah 65:15, or rather, since that would be an illustration of it by the same thing in different words, it may be interpreted literally of the new heavens and the new earth, which will be made when the present ones shall wax old and perish, and be no more, as in the New Jerusalem state, 2 Peter 3:10,
shall remain before me, saith the Lord; these shall continue, not only throughout the Millennium, or thousand years' reign, but for ever:
so shall your seed and your name remain; not the natural seed of believers; all have not such seed, and they that have, they are not all converted persons; but the spiritual "seed" of the church, born in her, and brought up by her; which shall continue in successive generations to the end of time, notwithstanding the persecutions of men, and the craft of false teachers, and the reproaches and banters of a vain world, Psalm 22:30, and their "name" also; the name of Christ they name and confess, and that is called upon them, and from whence they are called Christians; this shall endure as long as the sun, Psalm 72:17 or the new name of sons and daughters of the Almighty; or their fame and glory, the memory of them; they shall be had in everlasting remembrance, Psalm 112:6.
And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another,.... Or, "from month in its months"
The Targum is,
"in the time of the beginning of the "month in its month";'
that is, in every day of the month; or rather every month:
and from one sabbath to another; the form of expressions the same as before; and in like manner paraphrased in the Targum; and signifies either every day in the week; or rather every sabbath, or first day in the week; for we are not to imagine that new moons and Jewish sabbaths, that is, seventh day sabbaths, shall now be observed, which have been long abolished, Colossians 2:16 but, as New Testament officers of churches are, in the preceding verses, called by Old Testament names; so here the times and seasons of Gospel worship are expressed in Old Testament language; and the sense is, that the people of Christ and members of churches, in the latter day, shall constantly attend church meetings; shall assemble together every month to celebrate the Lord's supper; and every Lord's day, to hear the word, pray and sing praises together; hereby enjoying much spiritual peace and rest, and increasing in evangelical light, signified by the new moons and sabbaths; and especially this will have a fuller accomplishment in the New Jerusalem state, when there will be a perfect sabbatism, which now remains for the people of God, and when their light will be exceeding great and glorious; and so the Jews
all flesh shall come to worship before me, saith the Lord; that is, men of all nations, and persons of each sex; not Jews only, and their males, as formerly, but men and women; not every individual, but all that will be converted, which will be many, shall come to the places of public worship, where the saints meet together for that purpose, and join together in it; and this they shall do continually and without intermission, as the first Christians did, Acts 2:42. The Talmud
And they shall go forth,.... That is, those constant and spiritual worshippers shall go forth from the holy mountain Jerusalem, the church of God, whither they are brought as an offering to the Lord, and where they worship him; for this is not to be understood of going out of Jerusalem literally, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or of their going out of their graves after the resurrection, as others; but either out of the Christian assemblies, or out of the houses of the saints, and the beloved city, when fire shall come down from heaven, and destroy the wicked, Revelation 20:9,
and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me. The Targum is,
"against my Word;'
against Christ, whose person they blasphemed, denying him to be God; whose office, as a Mediator and Saviour, they rejected; whose doctrines they contradicted; and whose ordinances they despised: these are not the carcasses of the camp of Gog and Magog, the Jews so call, as Kimchi interprets it; though it may have reference to the carcasses of Gog's army, the Turks, that will be slain in their attempt to recover Judea, Ezekiel 38:1 or else the carcasses of those that will be slain at the battle at Armageddon, Revelation 16:16 or the army of Gog and Magog, at the end of the thousand years, Revelation 20:8. The Talmudists
for their worm shall not die; with which their carcasses shall be covered, they lying rotting above ground; or figuratively their consciences, and the horrors and terrors that shall seize them, which they will never get rid of. The Targum is,
"their souls shall not die;'
as they will not, though their bodies may; but will remain to suffer the wrath of God to all eternity: neither shall their fire be quenched; in hell, as Jarchi interprets it; those wicked men, the followers and worshippers of antichrist, will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; they will for ever suffer the vengeance of eternal fire; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever, Revelation 14:10,
and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh; the true worshippers of God, Isaiah 66:23 to whom their carcasses will be loathsome, when they look upon them; and their souls abominable, because of their wicked actions; and who cannot but applaud the justice of God in their condemnation; and admire distinguishing grace and mercy, that has preserved them from the like ruin and destruction. The Targum is,
"and the ungodly shall be judged in hell, till the righteous shall say concerning them, we have seen enough;'
see Mark 9:44, where our Lord mentions and repeats some of the clauses of this, text, and applies them to the torments of hell.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://pro.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany