Bible Commentary

Isaiah 66

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Isaiah 66)

Verse 1

[1] Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

The heaven — The highest heaven, is the place where I shew myself in my majesty. So Psalms 11:4; Psalms 103:19; Matthew 5:34. Hence we are taught to pray; our father which art in heaven.

And the earth is my footstool — Or a place wherein I set my feet, Matthew 5:35.

The house — Can there be an house built, that will contain me? My rest - Or where is the place wherein I can be said to rest in a proper sense?

Verse 2

[2] For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

Have been — They were not only made by God, but kept in being by him.

Look — Yet God will look with a favourable eye to him that hath a broken and contrite spirit, whose heart is subdued to the will of God, and who is poor, and low in his own eyes.

Trembleth — Who trembleth when he hears God's threatening words, and hears every revelation of his will with reverence.

Verse 3

[3] He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

He that, … — Solomon, Proverbs 15:8, gives a full commentary on the whole verse; The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.

As if — From hence it is plain, that the prophet is not here reflecting upon idolatrous worship, but formal worship: upon those who in a formality worshipped the true God, and by acts which he had appointed. God by the prophet declares, that these mens services were no more acceptable to him than murder, idolatry, or the most horrid profanation of his name.

Own ways — They live as they lust.

Delight — They take pleasure in their sins.

Verse 4

[4] I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

Chuse — They have chosen to mock and delude me, I will chuse to suffer them to delude themselves; they have chosen to work wickedness, I will chuse the effect.

Their fears — That is, the things which they feared.

Did not hear — God accounts that those do not hear, who do not obey his will.

Verse 5

[5] Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

You — That truly fear God.

Your brethren — By nation.

Cast you out — That cast you out of their synagogues, cast you out of their city, and some of you out of the world.

For my names sake — For my sake; for your adherence to my law.

Glorified — Thinking they did God good service, John 16:2.

Verse 6

[6] A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.

A voice — The expression of a prophetical extasy, as if he said, I hear a sad and affrighting noise; it comes not from the city only, but from the temple, wherein these formalists have so much gloried. There is a noise of soldiers slaying, and of the poor people shrieking or crying out.

Of the Lord — A voice of the Lord, not in thunder, but that rendereth recompence to his enemies. Thus he seems to express the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, as a thing at that time doing.

Verse 7

[7] Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.

Before — The whole verse is expressive of a great and sudden salvation, which God would work for his church, like the delivery of a woman, and that of a man-child, before her travail, and without pain. Doubtless it refers to the coming of Christ, and the sudden propagation of the gospel.

Verse 8

[8] Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.

For — As soon as the voice of the gospel put the church of the Jews into her travail, in Christ's and the Apostles time, it presently brought forth.

Verse 9

[9] Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.

Shall I — I, that in the ordinary course of my providence use to give a birth to women, to whom I have given a power to conceive, shall I not give a birth to my people, whom by my promises I have made to conceive such expectations? And shut - Nor shall Zion once only bring forth, but she shall go on, her womb shall not be shut, she shall every day bring forth more and more children, and my presence shall be with my church, to the end of the world.

Verse 11

[11] That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.

Consolations — The gospel doctrine was their breasts of consolation.

Her glory — Christ was the glory of the people of Israel, though he was also a light to the Gentiles.

Verse 12

[12] For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

Like a river — It is plain this prophecy relates to a farther conversion of the Jews than hath been yet seen.

Ye — Ye Jews also.

Her sides — The Gentiles were borne upon the sides of Jerusalem and dandled upon her knees, as first hearing from the Apostles (who were members of the Jewish church) the glad tidings of salvation.

Verse 13

[13] As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

As one whom, … — That is, in the most tender, and compassionate way.

Verse 14

[14] And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.

Rejoice — The peace of the church and the propagation of the kingdom of Christ, is always the cause of an heart rejoicing to such as fear God, so that they flourish like an herb in the spring.

The hand — The power, protection, and influence of God.

Verse 15

[15] For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

With fire — With terrible judgments, or with fire in a proper sense, understanding it of the fire with which enemies use to consume places brought under their power.

Whirlwind — With a sudden sweeping judgment.

Fury — That is, with fervour; for fury properly taken is not in God.

Rebukes — They had contemned the rebukes of the law, now God will rebuke them with fire, and sword.

Verse 16

[16] For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

Plead — God at first pleads with sinners by words, but if he cannot so prevail, he will plead with them in a way by which he will overcome; by fire, pestilence and blood.

All flesh — Thus he threatens to do with all the wicked Jews.

The slain — Those whom God should cause to be slain.

Verse 17

[17] They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.

Gardens — In which they worshipped idols.

In the midst — Behind one of the trees, or one by one behind the trees.

The abominations — All those beasts forbidden the Jews for meat. God will not only destroy gross idolaters, but all those who make no conscience of yielding obedience to the law of God in such things as seemed to them of a minute nature, and such as they easily might have obeyed.

Verse 18

[18] For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.

Come — It shall come to pass that I will cast them off, and then l will gather all nations, etc.

My glory — My oracles, my ordinances, which hitherto have been locked up in the church of the Jews, and been their glory, shall be published to the Gentiles.

Verse 19

[19] And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.

A sign — By this may be understood Christ, Luke 2:34, or the ministry of the word attended with miracles, these were set up among the Jews first, then among the Gentiles.

Afar off — To all the quarters of the world.

They shall — This was eminently made good after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the believers among the Jews, as well as the apostles went about publishing the gospel to all people, which was declaring the Lord's glory.

Verse 20

[20] And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.

Your brethren — Those who are the children of Abraham, not considered as the father of the Jewish nation only, but considered as the father of many nations, and as the father of the faithful, and so are your brethren, shall be brought out of all nations for an offering to the Lord.

Holy mountain — And they shall be brought into the church, which began at Jerusalem.

As — And they shall come with as much joy and gladness, with as much sincerity and holiness, as the Godly Jews do when they bring their offerings in clean vessels.

Verse 21

[21] And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.

For priests — God will find among the converted Gentiles those who though they are not of the tribe of Levi, yet shall do the true work of priests and Levites.

Verse 22

[22] For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

The new heavens — The new state of the church to be raised up under the Messiah.

Remain — As I intend that shall abide, so there shall be a daily succession of true believers for the upholding of it.

Verse 23

[23] And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

And, … — In the gospel-church there shall be as constant and settled a course of worship (though of another nature) as ever was in the Jewish church: Christians are not bound to keep the Jewish sabbaths or new-moons. But New Testament worship is expressed by Old Testament phrases. The Jews were only obliged to appear three times in a year at Jerusalem, but (saith the prophet) the gospel-church shall worship God from one sabbath to another.

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