In Isaiah 66:1-4 he exposes superficial religion.
For one thing, we shouldn’t trust in the temple, or look to the building as the basis of our relationship with God. The LORD doesn’t live in some sort of sacred or special building – He doesn’t fit! Heaven is His throne; the earth is His footstool. What we eventually learn is that God lives in His people, congregationally and even personally. This is where we have fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16).
God is not impressed with buildings. He’s blessed – and in one sense impressed (He looks on) those who are humble, who acknowledge their need for Him, and who know deep in their hearts that the Bible is God’s perfect Word.
Isaiah 66:2 (NKJV) “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
In Isaiah 66:5-13 we have the vindication of Israel. Over the years so many nations have trampled them down, they’ve hated and persecuted the Jews. There are even those in the church who believe that God is done with Israel, that they’ve been replaced by the church. How wrong they are. Paul the Apostle dealt with this question about the Jews:
Romans 11:1-2a (NKJV) “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew…”
Throughout the book of Isaiah we see the future glory of Israel. Yes they’ve been disciplined, but not destroyed, not to be forgotten. On the contrary God will destroy her enemies (Isaiah 66:6) and the nation would be born at once, in a day:
Isaiah 66:8 (NKJV) “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.”
This is an absolutely amazing prophecy of what took place on May 14, 1948 – ON THAT DAY – Israel became a nation again!
One day Jesus will come and rule from Jerusalem, it will be recognized as the capital of the world, and the glory of God through the nation of Israel will be finally acknowledged. Isaiah writes about this, it would be (should be) a comfort to Israel who has experienced so much heartache.
Isaiah 66:10 (NKJV) “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
Isaiah 66:13 (NKJV) “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
In Isaiah 66:14-24 he closes the book with final victory of God in the earth. “The LORD will judge all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:16) He is coming and will consume His enemies, including those who are only religious. He knows the works and thoughts of all people (Isaiah 66:18).
Most will be judged, but some will be saved. I love the missionary/soul-winning work we see in Isaiah 66:19-21.
And the day will come, for the new heavens and the new earth, they will last forever, just as God’s people will live forever and ever.
Isaiah 66:22 (NKJV) “‘For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘So shall your descendants and your name remain.’”
There will be those in heaven forever and ever…and tragically there will be those in the Lake of Fire, forever and ever. Isaiah even closes his glorious book, with this heavy warning:
Isaiah 66:24 (NKJV) “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
It’s a tough but true way to end the book (see Jesus’ words in Mark 9:44-48)
Paul encourages the brethren to rejoice but then issues a stern warning – three times in Philippians 3:2 he uses the word “beware,” warning the church about the false teachers who were pushing the law of legalism, and a religion-based righteousness. Paul had been there, done that, he had all the credentials that self-righteousness could provide and yet he was wise and willing to trade it all in for the righteousness that found by faith in Christ.
The truth is, my righteousness is rubbish. Isaiah calls it filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It’s time to throw out the trash and cling only to Christ. Philippians 3:10 is one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible – this should be our goal, to know Christ, intimately; to experience Christ’s strength, powerfully; to fellowship with Jesus, tearfully; and to “die” like Jesus, daily.
Paul knew he was saved, but he wasn’t done seeking the Lord and being conformed into His image. Paul pictured himself as a runner, and he wasn’t about to look back to see how many hurdles he’d knocked down, or how many he cleared, he was only interested in reaching forward to that which is ahead. His goal was Jesus and His prize was to know Him and be like Him.
Do you want a bright future? This is the key. Pastor Chuck Smith comments, “It is awfully difficult to move forward when you are looking backward. Many people are hindered in their progress because they are busy looking at the past; hung up by their failures, bitter against those who have hurt them, or resting on the laurels of their past success.”
Philippians 3:17 is another one of those passages where Paul can actually point to himself as an example (see also Philippians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:9). God help us to do our best to grow to a place of maturity and consistency so that if they “did like me” we wouldn’t be ashamed. May we be people who are patterns for the next generation, and may we imitate those who imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Part of the reason it’s so important to be role models and good examples, is because of the fact that there are so many bad models out there – people who claim to be Christians, even Christian leaders, but they’re not. This is the only time Paul weeps in this letter; not because of his own sufferings or imprisonment, but because of the evil enemies of the cross of Christ who are in it only for themselves. It’s to remember that we are citizens of heaven, not earth, so let’s live for that land. Jesus is coming and will transform our weak and weary bodies, so that we might inhabit our heavenly homeland (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
O Lord, please stamp eternity on my eyelids!
This Psalm was written while both kingdoms were in captivity. Israel was carried away by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and Judah was carried away by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Psalmist, understandably is devastated by the way the beautiful Temple, built by Solomon has been completely destroyed.
This is a prayer for God to restore His people to fellowship with Him.
It may sound disconnected, but I think of the time that Moses threw down the two tablets upon which God had written the Ten Commandments – they were shattered. The reason he did that was because Israel had already broken them all.
The Temple destroyed by the Babylonians, in one sense, had already been destroyed by the Jews, for they had gone after other gods and left their first love.
In Psalm 74:9 the Psalmist points out that there was no longer a prophet, there was no longer a Word from God. Warren Wiersbe explains the reason for that, “One of God’s judgments is to leave His people without a word of guidance because they have refused to obey His will.”
God’s warnings are to be heeded; there are consequences to our sins. May we learn from the rebellion of others. May we grow to fear God and love Him. If we’ve strayed away in any way and find ourselves in the enemies’ territory, may we cry out to God. He is ready and willing to restore us, and to defeat every one of our enemies.
Proverbs 24:15-16 (NKJV) “Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; do not plunder his resting place; 16 For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.
Here we read about a wicked man, planning and plundering the dwelling of a righteous man. He’s not just taking but tempting and in part, causing, a believer to fall.
It’s a warning to the wicked and an encouragement to the righteous. The wicked man can’t ruin us. We will always be able to rise, even if we fall 7 times, but the wicked will fall one day, and never get up.
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Verses 15–16 warn that it is futile for the wicked to attempt to destroy the righteous and his possessions. Because of God’s protection the righteous person recovers from robberies and attacks but the wicked who instigate such schemes find that they are the ones who suffer.”
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Examples of this kind of judicial boomeranging are seen in Daniel 3 and 6. At a more modest level it is a salutary reminder that an unscrupulous victory is never permanent: you are fighting against God.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.