“Before distress cometh upon her, she shall be redeemed; and before trembling cometh upon her, like the pains upon a woman in child-bearings her King shall be revealed.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
In the former chapter God, through His prophet Isaiah, affirmed His continued faithfulness to the remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) and the establishment of redeemed Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) in the Olam Haba (World to come). From verse 17 of chapter 65 onwards the New creation is described and illuminated in beautiful poetic detail and the first verse of the current chapter is a continuation of HaShem’s prophetic revelation of what is yet to come for both Israel and the nations.
Isa 66:1 Koh amar Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Ha-shamayim The heavens are kisiy My throne, ve’ha’aretz and the land (earth) hadom raglay is My footstool; eiy-zeh where is it, bayit a house asher tivnu-liy that you would build for Me, ve’eiy-zeh and where is makum menuchatiy a place of My resting (comfort, quietness, rest)?
When the heavens and the earth are alluded to in relation to HaShem’s authority over them, all creation is meant. The figurative language intends to convey God’s sovereignty over all things and to remind humanity of its lowly status and need for humility and awe before Him.
Because God is all existing, uncreated, invisible, all knowing, all present and all powerful, a human building could never contain Him. Therefore, HaShem speaks to Israel to say, “The Temple of Solomon was nothing more than a figure representing unseen things, it is merely a building and could never contain Me, nor are human beings worthy of building a house for the One Who has housed them on earth and within the universe.”
The Hebrew offers a double reference to the Temple Mount by saying “Beiyt” house, which refers to the Temple and “makum” place, a contracted form of “Ha-Makum” The Place, which refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The language “My rest” or “My resting place” is an allusion to Solomon’s Temple and the desire of both king David and Solomon to build a house for the honouring and worship of YHVH, the God of Israel.
There is also a locational connection here to the Throne of God and the Servant King Messiah, Who sits at the right hand of God’s throne, again, in a manifest sense that does not limit the all existing nature of God. All that we see, even the vision of Stephen the first Messianic Jewish martyr, is a manifestation of God but does not limit Him or confine Him to the created order, be it heavenly or earthly (Acts 7:55-56).
The Messiah follower Stephen (A Grecian Jew) quotes this passage of Isaiah in his rebuke of the apostate Jewish men of the first century C.E. following the death, resurrection and ascent of the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
44 “Our fathers had the Tent of Witness in the wilderness—just as the One speaking to Moses had directed him to make it according to the design he had seen. 45 Our fathers received it in turn and brought it in with Joshua when they took possession of the land of the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it remained until the days of David, 46 who found favor in God’s sight. He asked to find a dwelling place for the God[i] of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built a house for Him. 48 However, Elyon does not dwell in man-made houses. As the prophet says,
49 ‘Heaven is My throne,
and the earth is the footstool of My feet.
What kind of house will you build for Me, says Adonai,
or what is the place of My rest?
50 Did not My Hand make all these things?’[j]
51 “O you stiff-necked people! You uncircumcised of heart and ears! You always resist the Ruach ha-Kodesh; just as your fathers did, you do as well. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed the ones who foretold the coming of the Righteous One. Now you have become His betrayers and murderers-- 53 you who received the Torah by direction of angels and did not keep it!” 54 When they heard these things, they became enraged and began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God—and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears; and crying out with a loud voice, they rushed at him with one impulse. 58 Driving him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he was calling out, “Lord Yeshua, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” After he said this, he died.” -Acts 7:44:60 (TLV)
Solomon, who built the Temple in Jerusalem agrees with the words of Isaiah, some 200 years before Isaiah was born, saying:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” -1 Kings 8:27 (ESV)
Isa 66:2 Ve’et-kol-eileh yadiy And all these things My hand asatah has made (fashioned, formed), vayihyu kol-eileh and so all these things came to be,” neum-YHVH HaShem declares the LORD. “Ve’el-zeh And to this one abiyt I look el-aniy to the humble (poor in spirit) unecheih-ruach and stricken (contrite) in spirit vechareid al-devariy and one who trembles (fearful, afraid, in awe) at My Word.”
As is always the case, we can’t look past the illumination of John’s Gospel concerning the Word (Yeshua) [John 1]. Therefore, in one sense this verse denotes salvation through repentance: the progression being humility before God (poor in spirit), grief concerning our sin (stricken, contrite), and trembling before the Redeemer, the Word, our King Messiah Yeshua.
The Hebrew “aniy” like the Hebrew “aniyv” infers poverty of spirit or humility. Therefore, the words of Yeshua’s sermon on the mount are also intrinsically linked to the current passage of Isaiah:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” -Matthew 5:3
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” -Psalm 51:17 (ESV)
We note also that the Hebrew “asatah” from “asah” to form from something, denotes that all these material things made (asah: formed) by God, are also created (borei: from nothing) by God. This is an important distinction throughout the remainder of this chapter because it infers a transformed creation, the convergence of the redeemed first creation and the everlasting new creation.
Isa 66:3 “Shocheit He who slaughters ha-shor the bull makeih-iysh is like one who kills a man; zoveiach he who sacrifices ha-sheh the lamb, oreif kelev like one who breaks a dog's neck (Deut. 23:18); ma’aleih minchah he is like one ascending to offer the dam-chaziyr blood of swine; mazkiyr he who makes a memorial offering levonah of incense (Lev. 2:1; 11:7), mevareich is like one who blesses (kneels before) aven wickedness, iniquity, trouble (an idol). Gam-heimah Also these bacharu have elected bedarcheiyhem to go in their own ways, uveshikutzeiyhem and in their detestable idols nafsham their souls chafeitzah delight.
This sequence of worship practices leads with an action associated to the Temple of God and follows with a pagan equivalent. Slaughtering the bull relates to the Temple sacrifice, whereas killing a man relates to human sacrifice in the Hinnom valley; sacrificing the lamb is also a practice related to the Temple of Hashem, and breaking a dog’s neck is a sacrifice to a pagan deity; burning incense before the Holy of holies is of course a practice of Israel’s priests, whereas kneeling before idols where incense was also offered is not (or should not be). The sequence concludes with the worshipper knelt before and idol and thus they “have elected to go in their own ways and in their detestable idols they delight.” Once again it is fallen human nature and the pursuit of sin that results in death. In pursuit of our own deity we often fall down before false deities, the result being that we neither achieve our goal nor find redemption.
Isa 66:4 Gam-aniy Also I evchar elected beta’aluleiyhem harsh treatment (delusion) for them umegurotam aviy lahem and brought their fears upon them, ya’an because karatiy I called, ve’eiyn and no one oneh answered, dibartiy I spoke, velo shameiu and they did not listen (hear, perceive); vayasu and they fashioned (did) ha-ra the evil be’eiynay in My eyes uva’asher and that which lo-chafatztiy I did not delight in bacharu they chose.”
This is very much a case of the apostate Israelites reaping what they have sown. It is important to note that they were not simply committing acts of evil but of “Ha-ra” the evil. The root of all sin is the hubris of idolatry. Therefore, the evil that they were fashioning was the worship of something or someone other than God their Creator. This they did in His face, that is, by syncretising their worship with the God ordained practices of the Temple.
“I called and no one answered” is a repetition of 65:12 and thus confirms the two witnesses against Israel’s apostate practices.
Isa 66:5 Shimu Hear devar-YHVH the Word of the LORD, hachareidiym you the ones who tremble el-devaro at His Word, ameru He says, “Acheiychem soneiychem Your brothers who hate you menadeiychem and cast you out lema’an for the sake of shemiy My Name; saying ‘yichbad be heavy with glory HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), venireh appear’ vesimchatchem in their rejoicing, ve’hem and they yeivoshu will be ashamed.”
The “ones who tremble at His Word” are mentioned in verse 2 as being ones of “humility and contrite spirit”. They are that remnant among Israel who have kept faith in Hashem and have not defiled themselves with pagan worship or by sinning against God. They are those who admit their errors and humbly seek God’s forgiveness and redemption. They are those like Isaiah, who petition God in repentance on behalf of their nation, admitting their own connection to the sins of the nation. We could learn so much from these faithful ones of ancient Israel. We are tasked today, every believer, with this same high calling of faith and integrity in the face of coming judgement.
We notice that the trembling ones are trembling at God’s Word. This is a literal reference to the Torah and a prophetic allusion to the Servant King Messiah Yeshua (Ha-Devar – The Word).
“Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for the sake of My Name;” The righteous remnant among Israel remain brothers to those who are apostate within the nation of Israel. We must note that the ethnicity of these Jews is intrinsic to their ministry in God’s plan and purpose. God does not say “Your enemies who hate you” but “Your brothers (fellow Jews) who hate you”. Therefore, the righteous remnant maintain their love for all their people but also stand apart in the truth of Hashem for the sake of their people. It is interesting to note that the phrase “to cast out” later became the technical language for excommunicating Jews from the Synagogue. In fact it was used in this way in the Gospels:
“They shall cast you out of the synagogues: yes, a time is coming when whoever kills you will think that he has done God a service” -John 16:2 (Matt. 24:9; Luke. 21:12)
We see that the remnant are cast out for the sake of the Name of HaShem. We also see the correlation this has with the casting out of the synagogue, of Messianic Jews in the first century, a practice which continues today for we Messianic Jews, who, though we are ethnically and religiously Jewish in every way that matters, are none the less, cast out of rabbinical Judaism because of our belief in the King Messiah Yeshua. This in spite of the fact that we agree with and recite the tenant of Maimonides that says “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah and though He may tarry, still I will wait for Him every day!” The sad irony for the remnant among our people today is palpable.
“saying ‘Be heavy with glory HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), appear’ in their rejoicing, and they will be ashamed.” This is a mocking phrase spoken by the apostate among Israel against the righteous remnant, the trembling ones. In modern language we might paraphrase it “Come on, let’s see the glory of God upon you then, let’s see Him appear…” Of course now as then, God promises that those who mock His elect will be put to shame.
“so Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” -Hebrews 9:28
“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” -Revelation 1:7 (ESV)
Isa 66:6 Kol A voice sha’on a roar mei’iyr from the city! Kol A voice meiheiychol from the Sanctuary (Temple)! Kol YHVH The voice of HaShem, meshaleim from a contract of peace (wholeness) gemul le’oyevayv He will repay His enemies.
This verse is describing the coming invasion of the Babylonians and the voices of distress echoing from the ravaged city of Jerusalem and from the damage done to the Temple and the robing of the Temple vessels etc. This is the voice of Hashem because He has ordained this destruction for the sake of Israel’s disciplining. This, in the wholeness and peace of His redemptive purpose He will repay His enemies, those both within Israel and without. Of course a similar destruction occurred in 70 C.E. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, thus setting the stage for Israel to be born in a day some 2000 years later.
Isa 66:7 Be’terem Before tachiyl she was in labour (travail) yaldah she gave birth; be’terem before yavo chevel the cord came lah from her vehimliytah and she was delivered zachar a son.
“Before distress cometh upon her, she shall be redeemed; and before trembling cometh upon her, like the pains upon a woman in child-bearings her King shall be revealed.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
Verses 7 through 9 express awe at the rapid rebirth of the nation of Israel and her land. This rebirth has many facets and has been accomplished in its most profound sense to date with the rebirth of the modern State of Israel in 1948. Of course, a greater rebirth is yet future, and that is ultimately the goal of this prophecy. What began in Acts 2 at Shavuot (Pentecost) will be made complete at the second coming of Yeshua (Romans 11:25-26). Thus the greatest of fulfilment will occur when all the remnant of the ethnic, religious, chosen Jewish people receive the Servant King Messiah Yeshua in the last days.
The birthing metaphor regards both the land and the people of Israel and is intended to convey the miraculous nature of these events.
The son that Israel gives birth to is clearly the King Messiah. Something the 2nd Century writers of the Targum understood. Thus, the Son born to Israel in a miraculous way (virgin birth), will be the very One who will ultimately bring rejoicing to those who have mourned over Jerusalem’s destruction.
“before he should be born that should bring Israel into the last captivity, the Redeemer should be born;'' -R. Moses Haddarsan
Isa 66:8 Miy Who shama has heard kazot of a thing (f.) like this? Miy Who ra’ah has seen kaeileh things like these? Hayuchal Is the trembling (labouring) eretz land beyom echad im-yivaleid born in one day? Goy pa’am echat Does a nation step as one? kiy-chalah For in labour (trembling) gam also yaldah she brought forth Tziyon (Zion) baneiyha her children.
“Who has heard of a thing (f.) like this?” This miraculous delivery of the male child and the subsequent trembling that comes upon the land will be like nothing that has happened before.
“Who has seen things like these? Is the trembling (labouring) land born in one day? Many see Israel’s modern State as a fulfilment of these words. In addition, a greater fulfilment awaits the Jewish people in Messiah Yeshua.
“Does a nation step as one? For in labour (trembling) also she brought forth Tziyon (Zion) her children.” The nation is clearly Israel “Zion” and the children are those born to those returning from captivity and their exponential growth within the land of Israel. This happened to a certain extent following the Babylonian exile and in a greater way following the establishing of the modern State of Israel, and will yet happen in a much greater way at the redemption of all Israel in the last days.
“A nation stepping as one” is an indication of perfect unity, something that no nation has ever achieved, including Israel. Therefore, this speaks of the saving work of Yeshua and the Spirit of God Who will unit Israel in God and cause her to walk as one.
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.’” -Hosea 1:10 (ESV)
Isa 66:9 “Ha’aniy Do I ashbiyr break (bring to the point of birth) velo oliyd and not deliver?” Yomar says YHVH HaShem (Mercy); “Im Aniy When I hamoliyd bring forth (birth a child) ve’atzartiy, do I ve’atzartiy shut the womb?” amar says Elohayich your God.
HaShem, Who brought about the miraculous rebirth of Israel as a nation, in her land, will also not fail to complete what He has begun in her.
Isa 66:10 “Simchu Rejoice et with Yerushalayim (Flood of peace, wholeness), vegiylu and be glad vah for her, kol all ohaveyah who love her; siysu rejoice itah with her together masos from joy, kol all hamitabliym the mourners aleyha over her;
Those who rejoice are primarily the remnant of Israel but also include “all who love her” from the nations. Therefore, this is prophetic of that time when the redeemed of the Lord both Jew and Gentile will rejoice together in the final manifestation of Jerusalem in all her fullness and glory. We note that those who rejoice with her in her glory will be those who have mourned over her desolation. This is a poignant message for Messiah followers today. The question is, “Do you mourn with Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen)?”
Isa 66:11 lema’an for the purpose of tiyneku your nursing (suckling) useva’tem and being satisfied mishod tanchumeyha from her consoling breast; lema’an for the purpose of your tamtztzu drinking (sucking out) deeply (milk) vehitanagtem and being delicate miziyz from among the moving creatures (from the abundance) of kevodah her glory.”
The birthing analogy continues with the nursing infant who has been starved of milk now being satisfied at the breast of his mother. The infant is the faithful remnant of Israel who will soon be restored to the breast of his mother Jerusalem,
Isa 66:12 Kiy-choh amar For thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): “Hiniy Behold, noteh-eileyha I will extend to her kenahar like a river, shalom peace, uchenachal and a torrent (wadi stream) shoteif engulfing kevod the glory goyim of the nations; viynaktem and you will nurse, al-tzad on her side tinasei’u carried ve’al-birkayim and upon her knees tesho’osha’u bounced, caressed.
We note that the name Yerushalayim is a contraction that means “Flood of peace”. This is the very thing that is described here: waters flooding through the wadi in rainy season and rivers extending beyond their banks to flood the land, bringing with them the glory (all that is good, Godly and fruitful) of the nations by whom Israel was taken captive. These nations that had afflicted Israel will return her children, carrying them on their hips and bouncing them on their knees as beloved ones (Isa.49:22; 60:4).
Isa 66:13 Ke’iysh As one asher whom imo his mother tenachamenu comforts, kein so anochiy I anachemchem will comfort you; uviyrushalayim and in Jerusalem tenuchamu your repentance, consolation, comfort.
This is one of the rare occasions where God is described as a mother to Israel. His nature is such that He exhibits both masculine and feminine attributes and thus is in one sense both Father and mother to Israel. We note that like the Holy Spirit, the motherly expression is intrinsically connected to comfort (not in the old English sense of prodding) in the Hebrew sense of nurture.
It is interesting to note that the Targum says “My Word will comfort you”.
Isa 66:14 Ure’iytem And you will see, perceive (inspect) ve’sas libechem and your core being (heart) will rejoice; ve’atzmoteiychem your bones (essence, substance) kadeshe tifrachnah will sprout like the grass; ve’nodah yad-YHVH and the hand of the LORD will be known et-avadayv to His servants, veza’am and His indignation against et-oyevayv His enemies.
“And you will see, perceive (inspect) and your core being (heart) will rejoice” The redeemed remnant of Israel will see all these things come to pass and will rejoice from the depths of their being.
“your bones (essence, substance) will sprout like the grass” The Hebrew for “bones” also means “essence”, the very matter of the human existence. Thus, they will prosper physically in every way. One might say metaphysically.
“and the hand of the LORD will be known to His servants, and His indignation against His enemies.” Through His redeeming acts of salvation for Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen), the hand of God (The King Messiah) will become intimately known by the redeemed of Israel and will at the same time bring retribution against the enemies of God and His chosen people.
Isa 66:15 “Kiy For hineih behold, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) baeish in fire yavo will come, ve’chasufah and like a whirlwind markevotayv with His chariots, lehashiyv to return becheimah in His raging apo fury (nostrils), vega’arato and His rebuke belahaveiy-eish in flames (blades) of fire.
“For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” -Revelation 18:8
The same fire that ignites the remnant of Israel in love for HaShem, will consume the enemies of God.
Isa 66:16 Kiy For vaeish in fire will HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) nishpat enter into judgment, uvecharbo and by His sword, et-kol-basar with all flesh; verabu and many chaleiy will be slain HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.” -Ezekiel 38:22 (ESV)
The prophet leaves no room for doubt, those who hate God and His people Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) will be judged and found wanting and will be slain unto everlasting torment.
Isa 66:17 “Hamitkadeshiym Those who sanctify vehamitahariym and purify themselves el-haganot to go into the gardens, achar behind achat one batavech in the midst, ocheleiy eating besar flesh hachazir of the swine vehasheketz and the unclean thing (abomination, detestable thing, idol) veha’achbar and the mouse, yachdav together yasufu they shall cease (end, be finished) neum-YHVH says the LORD.
This is a description of pagan rites syncretised with Hebrew worship practice and performed in the gardens where false gods and idols were worshipped. It is a repetition of the wicked practices described in Isaiah 65:4.
Iben Ezra links the gathering together of these wicked ones to rulers who gather to plot against God and His Messiah (Psalm 2:2). He further notes that this is an allusion to the final war between Gog and Magog, enemies of Israel and of the God of Israel.
Isa 66:18 “Ve’anochiy And I know ma’aseiyhem their works umachshevoteiyhem and their thoughts, ba’ah lekabeitz the time is coming to gather kol-hagoyim all the nations ve’haleshonot and tongues (languages). Uvau And they shall come vera’u and see et-kevodiy the glory that is Mine,
This speaks of the latter days when all the nations will gather against Israel and will be defeated and will behold the manifest glory of God in defence of His people and for the redemption of all who have put their trust in the Servant King Messiah of Israel, Yeshua.
“Then every clan in Judah will realize that I, the Lord All-Powerful, am their God, and that I am the source of their strength. 6 At that time I will let the clans of Judah be like a ball of fire in a wood pile or a fiery torch in a hay stack. Then Judah will send the surrounding nations up in smoke. And once again the city of Jerusalem will be filled with people. 7 But I will first give victory to Judah, so the kingdom of David and the city of Jerusalem in all of their glory won’t be thought of more highly than Judah itself.” -Zechariah 12:5-7 (CEV)
Isa 66:19 Vesamtiy and I will put in place vahem in them ot a sign (miraculous sign). Veshilachtiy And I will send meihem from them peleiytiym fugitives (escaped ones) el-hagoyim to the nations, Tarshiysh (Yellow Jasper), Pul (Distinguishing), ve’Lud (strife), moshecheiy who draw keshet a bow, Tubal (You shall be brought) ve’Yavan (Ionia/Greece) and Javan, haiyim to the coastlands (Islands) harechokiym the far away ones, asher that lo-shameu have not heard et-shimiy My Name (Reputation, character) ve’lo-ra’u or seen et-kevodiy the glory that is Mine. Ve’higiydu et-kevodiy And they shall declare the glory that is Mine bagoyim in the nations.
“and I will put in place in them a sign” This miraculous sign will be placed in the redeemed people of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen). This describes the giving of the Holy Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost) to Jews from all round the known world (Acts 2).
“And I will send from them fugitives (escaped ones) to the nations” Having received the sign of the Holy Spirit Who lives in them, the fugitives of Israel will spread the message of the King Messiah throughout the world. This happened following the persecution of the early Jewish Church (ecclesia), and as a result the Gospel has spread through the entire globe, propelled by God and through the Jewish believers. So that Jewish Messiah followers are directly and indirectly responsible for the declaration of the glory of God throughout the world. We note that this time Isaiah does not refer only to the “Islands, coastlands” of the Mediterranean, but also to the “far away Islands”, as far in fact as Tonga, Samoa, Rarotonga, yes, and even Aotearoa (NZ).
Isa 66:20 Ve’heiviyu And they shall bring et-kol-acheiychem all your brothers (and sisters) mikol-hagoyim from the nations minchah as an offering le- to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), basusiym on horses uvarechev and in chariots uvatzabiym and in litters (covered wagons) uvaperadiym and on mules uvakirkarot and on dromedaries (swift young camels), al har kodshiy to My holy mountain Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ka’asher yaviy’u veneiy just as the children of Yisrael bring et-haminchah their grain offering bichliy tahor in a vessel that is clean to beiyt YHVH the house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
“And they shall bring all your brothers (and sisters) from the nations as an offering to HaShem (YHVH: Mercy),” The “they” are the aforementioned inhabitants of the lands to which the Gospel was sent, both Messianic Jewish believers and the Messiah followers from among the nations, who will lead the pre-messianic Jews home in the redemption of Yeshua. Thus they will present themselves together on God’s holy mountain (Moriah, Har Beiyt, Mt Zion etc.) in Jerusalem as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This offering will be brought in clean vessels redeemed by the blood of the Messiah. These vessels will not be like the defiled vessels of the pagan rights, to the contrary, they are human vessels filled with the Holy Spirit of God through the King Messiah Yeshua.
Isa 66:21 Ve’gam And also meihem from them eckach I will take lakohaniym for priests laleviym and for Levites, amar says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
And so, from “them”, that is the redeemed of the Jews (we know this because the nearest subject is “your brothers”) God will take priests and Levites (an ethnic tribal designation) to worship before Him. This is a clear indication that tribal identity and specifically Israel’s (ethnic, religious, chosen) role, will continue in the world to come. A Gentile cannot be a Levite. It is like saying an Englishman can be taken to be a Navajo (native American).
Having priests and Levites does not negate the greater priesthood of Yeshua the Messiah (Hebrews). None the less, it does confirm the continuance of ethnic identity in the transformed body.
Isa 66:22 “Kiy For cha’asher as ha-shamayim hachadashym the new heavens ve’ha’aretz hachadashah and the new land (earth) asher that Aniy oseh I make omediym will remain lefanay before My face, neum-YHVH says HaShem, ken Yes, ya’amod zarachem your seed (offspring) veshimchem and your name will remain.
“Oseh” from “asah” means to make from something. Whereas the word for create used previously was from the root “borei” which can mean to create from nothing, an act only God can perform. Therefore, it seems likely that the new heavens and new earth will be transformed (re-created), having been cleansed by fire. Like the parable explaining a seed dying in order to be reborn as a beautiful plant, it seems that the new creation will be a resurrection of the former creation cleansed by the sacrificial blood of the King Messiah, through Whom all things are created.
“your seed and your name will remain.” This is irrefutable literary evidence that Israel (the Jewish people), religious, ethnic, chosen, will retain their unique identity in the Olam Haba (World to come).
Isa 66:23 Vehayah And it will come to pass mideiy-chodesh bechadesho from new moon to new moon, umideiy and from Shabbat beshabbato (Sabbath to Sabbath), yavo chol-basar lehishtachaot all flesh shall come lehishtachavot to bow down lefanay before My face, amar declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
This means that it is not until the Olam Haba (World to come) that Gentile believers will begin to keep the Jewish observances of the Shabbatot, Moediym etc. The Sabbath is a sign upon the Jewish people for this very reason. Those who demand that Gentile believers keep the Sabbath today are teaching the very essence of replacement theology from a stand point of religious-cultural appropriation. The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel forever.
“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between Me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” -Exodus 31:16-17 (NIV)
Notice the intimate phrase “Before My face”. We will be face to face with the God of the Universe our Creator in majestic relational awe.
Isa 66:24 “Veyatzeu And they shall go out verau and look befigreiy on the dead bodies ha’anashiym of the men haposhiym biy who have rebelled against Me. Kiy For tolatam their worm lo tamut shall not die, veisham and their fire lo tichbeh shall not be quenched, vehayu and they shall be deraon an abhorrence lechol-basar to all flesh.”
This passage uses the Hinnom valley (Below Jerusalem to the south) as a figure for the punishment that awaits the wicked in the latter days. It was in this valley that pagan human sacrifices occurred and in later times it became a place of burning refuse heaps. The prophet is saying that the everlasting torment of the wicked will be like the torment and perpetual burning of that wretched valley below Jerusalem. Thus the Hinnom valley is a physical representation within time and space of something much worse outside of time and space. Those who deny everlasting punishment based on the argument that the Hinnom valley is temporal, a fools devoid of the Spirit of God.
Yeshua quotes this portion of Isaiah 66 as a warning to His listeners. He thus shows that there is a perpetual connection between the holding place Gehenna and the Lake of fire as the continuation of Gehenna following the judgement.
43 “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than, having two hands, to go to Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off! It’s better for you to enter life lame than, having your two feet, to be thrown into Gehenna. 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you flavor it? Have salt in yourselves, and keep shalom with one another.” -Mark 9:43-50 (TLV)
Jewish tradition does not accept a dismal ending to a scroll of Scripture, therefore the Hebrew Tanakh (OT) ends Isaiah by repeating verse 23 after verse 24, in order to end on a hopeful note. In doing so, and in most cases without really understanding it, we Jews are acknowledging that Messiah is our hope and that Mercy Himself (YHVH) both precedes and follows judgement. This is a tacit affirmation of the promise of everlasting life in the Servant King Messiah Yeshua.
However, the ancient text does not end this way, why? Because the punishment of the wicked is simply the final act regarding the fallen first creation, and is itself the beginning of everlasting life. Therefore, the scroll of Isaiah, like the Bible itself, ends with a beginning.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.