Isaiah 66

Isaiah 66 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence

         The book of Isaiah began with the Lord calling upon heaven and earth to testify against the great sin and rebellion of his people along with a description of the terrible judgment of God coming against them because of their proud iniquity and lack of repentance.  Thankfully, it doesn’t end that way.  In the final chapters of Isaiah’s prophecy he sees a new heaven and earth that is not at odds with the children of Zion but one that rejoices at the revelation of the sons of God.  Instead of Zion being compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, as it was in the first chapter, it is now compared to paradise in the Garden of Eden.  It is the glory of all the earth.

         Of course, this would not happen automatically.  The Lord would not simply change his mind concerning Judah.  It would be unjust for God to destroy her sister Israel for her sin and to leave Judah unscathed.  That is where the mysterious figure of the suffering servant comes in to play.  Somehow the Lord would pour out his wrath upon him who stood in the place of Zion, and he would bear the punishment for their iniquities.  Through his sacrifice, he would bring healing not only to Judah but to all the nations of the world. 

         Once again, in this final chapter, the prophet envisions the city of Zion cleansed and redeemed, raised up out of its deep humiliation and exalted above every other city on earth.  Indeed, it will be the glory of all the earth.  And all flesh will come there to worship the one true God.  They will come from every corner of the earth, from Javan in Turkey, to Tarshish in Spain, from Pul and Lud in Northern Africa to Tubal in Russia and Armenia, even from the coastlands far away.  And the Lord will claim them as his own as one holy nation, one holy race, even appointing Gentiles to serve as priests in his holy temple.

         But not everyone would be welcome in the holy city.  In v.17 Isaiah speaks of those who seek to sanctify and purify themselves rather than looking to the Lord for his salvation through his suffering servant.  Both Jews and Gentiles who do not receive and rest in Christ alone for their salvation will remain outside the gates of the holy city where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched.  In this final chapter, once again, Isaiah reiterates that it is only the ones who are humble and contrite in spirit and who tremble at God’s Word who will be saved.  All the rest will endure God’s eternal judgment of which the Babylonian judgment was only a foretaste.  Truly, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  That is why we trust in Christ, the suffering servant, for he is the only who can reconcile us to God, for he is the only arbiter between God and man who can lay a hand on us both.  May all who hear this word have the faith to perceive its meaning and to cling to Christ in love.