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Beginning January 1, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the next 31 days. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023.
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Read Isaiah 66
Judgment and Hope
66 This is what the Lord says:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?
2 Has not my hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?”
declares the Lord.
“These are the ones I look on with favor:
those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
and who tremble at my word.
3 But whoever sacrifices a bull
is like one who kills a person,
and whoever offers a lamb
is like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
whoever makes a grain offering
is like one who presents pig’s blood,
and whoever burns memorial incense
is like one who worships an idol.
They have chosen their own ways,
and they delight in their abominations;
4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring on them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”
5 Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your own people who hate you,
and exclude you because of my name, have said,
‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy!’
Yet they will be put to shame.
6 Hear that uproar from the city,
hear that noise from the temple!
It is the sound of the Lord
repaying his enemies all they deserve.
7 “Before she goes into labor,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
8 Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
than she gives birth to her children.
9 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.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.”
12 For this is what the Lord says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice
and you will flourish like grass;
the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,
but his fury will be shown to his foes.
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,
and his chariots are like a whirlwind;
he will bring down his anger with fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For with fire and with his sword
the Lord will execute judgment on all people,
and many will be those slain by the Lord.
17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the one they follow,” declares the Lord.
18 “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.
22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
Isaiah 66 closes this book by setting our eyes on eternity, looking beyond the here and now. When it comes to chapters that speak on the judgment of the Father, it can be uncomfortable for us to imagine the condemnation for those who do not believe in Him. Remember: It is important for us to not read scripture with our own opinions, but to keep our eyes set on what is true of God’s character. He is a God of love and every action of His is an outpouring of love. We see very clearly here in this chapter a warning against what will happen to those who don’t follow him. That those who love their sin and ignore him will be put to shame. This isn’t to scare people from hell, rather it is a clear warning of the truth. Heaven will not be filled with people scared of hell.
Verse 3 also mentions empty religion. It’s important to note that even in the Old Testament that it’s not about the sacrifices themselves, but it’s about our heart. God is making His intentions clear here: He wants us to be near to Him and to experience the joy found in Him!
What is so beautiful about this chapter is that for those who trust in the Lord and proclaim Him to be their savior, we see the other side of His love. “The humble and contrite in spirit” (v. 2) and those who “tremble at his word” (v. 5) will receive “peace like a river” (v. 12). The Lord will comfort us, and this news leads us to rejoice.
He is worthy of praise and from him alone is joy found. Worship is a form of repentance, surrender, and praise. That it isn’t a feeling, but instead a reset and reminder of what is true. That we don’t worship because of what our circumstances look like, rather we do it because He is worthy of it. It brings Him glory. We will be welcomed into His house and “all of mankind will come and bow down before me” (v. 23). This is our eternal mindset and why our hope is in Him!
- Reflect back on the book we have just read. What has Isaiah taught you about God’s character?
- The end of this chapter talks about how far the Lord goes to include all of the nations into His kingdom. In what ways do we see this fulfilled in the new testament?
- Read Romans 5:9-11. How is Paul’s point in Romans 5 similar to that of this chapter?
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