Isaiah 66: The Final Chapter
This is the final chapter of the book of Isaiah. Recurring themes feature throughout this book. The idolatry of the people who are supposed to worship God is a major theme, including in chapter 66 verses 3, and in verses 7 to 18.
Previously in chapter 53, God prophesies about Jesus coming as a man. He is appalled that noone is available among human beings to lead us back to Him. So, He comes down and does it Himself. Chapter 61 is read by Jesus Himself at the start of His ministry as recorded in Luke chapter 4 verses 17-30.
At the start of chapter 66, God refuses to be contained in a building. The people were trying, as the modern says goes, to put God in a box.
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool Where is the house you will build for me?”
The Jewish nation had rebuilt the Temple under God’s command. However, He wanted more from his people than merely buildings. He is looking for humble people to follow Him. In verse 2 He wants us to prioritise obeying His commands over fulfilling religious practices. Sometimes religious activity looks good to people but does not please God. Sometimes people want to do good religious things like making sacrifices but avoid drawing close to God. The people of God wanted to build buildings and sacrifice animals, but God was more interested in a relationship with humble people. Much later, Jesus demonstrated the same priority by condemning the proud religious leaders’ practices of making long public prayers and seeking approval from people rather than humbling themselves and being obedient to God. Jesus in John 5:44, also makes clear we should seek our Heavenly Father’s approval over seeking approval from other people.
Isaiah intercedes throughout the book on behalf of us all. In chapter 66 verses 4-6, God explains why He does not reveal Himself. He doesn’t trust many of the people of Israel. However He also reveals to Isaiah His plan to redeem those who are truly His.
Verses 7-13 are promises from God of the blessing He is going to bring about for His people.
“Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’ says your God.”
God comforts His people and blesses us with many blessings. In this passage, He promises to bless us with the “wealth of nations,” His peace and comfort.
In verses 14-17 the terrifying judgment of God against His enemies is announced. We shall all appear before Him at the Judgment. The reasonable consequence is we should find out now what pleases God and do that. In verse 19 He states that His people shall go: “to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.”
I wonder if He is, in addition to other places, also talking about Borneo and therefore Brunei? From the viewpoint of Israel, we are living in a “distant island.” This is a word to the people of God to proclaim His glory to all nations. We should feel challenged to proclaim the goodness of God and His good news to those around us.
The final words of this book look ahead to the time after the judgment when the righteous shall live forever and those who rebelled shall suffer the eternal judgment.
Suggested prayer: Father God, may You reveal to us Your Glory and teach us that Your greatness cannot be contained in buildings. May we be humble before You and draw near to you in Spirit and Truth. Help us not to abuse good religious activities as a way to keep You away from us. May we continue to live in Your goodness all the days of our lives. May we also be obedient and faithful to your command to be witnesses of Your Glory. In Jesus Name. Amen.