Isaiah 66:1 MEANING

Isaiah 66:1

(1) The heaven is my throne . . .--We are left to conjecture the historical starting-point of this utterance of a Divine truth. Was the prophet condemning in advance the restoration of the temple on the return from Babylon, or, as some critics have supposed, the intention of some of the exiles to build a temple in the land of their captivity, as others did afterwards at Leontopolis in Egypt? Was he anticipating the vision of the Apocalypse, that in the new Jerusalem there was to be "no temple" (Revelation 21:22)? Neither of these views is satisfactory, Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 60:7, and the writings of Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, all pre-supposing the existence of a new temple. It seems better to see in the words the utterance, in its strongest form, of the truth that God dwelleth, not in temples made with hands, that utterance being compatible, as in the case of Solomon himself (2 Chronicles 6:18), of our Lord (John 2:16-17; John 4:21-23), of St. Stephen, who quoted this passage (Acts 7:48-50), with the profoundest reverence for the visible sanctuary. Cheyne quotes a striking parallel from an Egyptian hymn to the Nile of the fourteenth century B.C., in which we find the writer saying of God, "His abode is not known . . . there is no building that can contain Him." (Records of the Past, iv. 109.)

Verses 1-4. - THE UNGODLY EXILES REBUKED. Israel, being about to return from the Captivity, had the design of rebuilding the temple and re-establishing the temple worship. God rebukes this design in persons devoid of any spirit of holiness, and warns them that mere formal outward worship is an abomination to him (vers. 1-3). In ver. 4 he threatens them with punishment. Verse 1. - Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool (comp. Psalm 11:4; Psalm 103:19). The Hebrews, while they earnestly desired to have a material emblem of the presence of God in their midst, were deeply impressed with the feeling that no temple could be worthy of him, or other than most unworthy. "Will God," said Solomon, "indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heavens of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (1 Kings 8:27). And again, "Who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? Who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before trim?" (2 Chronicles 2:6). Thus Isaiah's note of warning was no novelty, and might rind responsive echoes in the hearts of many. Where is the house that ye build unto me? rather, what manner of house is it that ye would build to me, add what manner of place for my rest? God needs no "house;" and they cannot build him a house that could be in any way worthy of him. They, moreover, are unworthy to build him any house, which is the real ground of the refusal. There was no refusal, when the better part of the exiles, having returned, took the building in hand (see Ezra 3:8-13; Ezra 6:14, 15; Haggai 1:8-14; Zechariah 1:16; Zechariah 4:9, etc.).

66:1-4 The Jews gloried much in their temple. But what satisfaction can the Eternal Mind take in a house made with men's hands? God has a heaven and an earth of his own making, and temples of man's making; but he overlooks them, that he may look with favour to him who is poor in spirit and serious, self-abasing and self-denying; whose heart truly sorrows for sin: such a heart is a living temple for God. The sacrifice of the wicked is not only unacceptable, but a great offence to God. And he that now offers a sacrifice after the law, does in effect set aside Christ's sacrifice. He that burns incense, puts contempt upon the incense of Christ's intercession, and is as if he blessed an idol. Men shall be deceived by the vain confidences with which they deceive themselves. Unbelieving hearts, and unpurified consciences, need no more to make them miserable, than to have their own fears brought upon them. Whatever men put in the place of the priesthood, atonement, and intercession of Christ, will be found hateful to God.Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne,.... The third heaven, the heaven of heavens, where angels and glorified saints are, and some in bodies, as Enoch and Elijah, and where now Christ is in human nature; this is the seat of the divine Majesty, where he in a most illustrious manner displays his glory; and therefore we are to look upwards to God in heaven, and direct all our devotion to him there, and not imagine that he dwells in temples made with hands; or is confined to any place, and much less to any on earth, as the temple at Jerusalem, the Jews boasted of, and trusted in; and which were the unworthy notions they had of God in the times of Christ and his disciples; to confute which these words are here said, and for this purpose are quoted and applied by Stephen, Acts 7:48. See Gill on Acts 7:48, Acts 7:49, Acts 7:50,

and the earth is my footstool: on which he treads, is below him, subject to him, and at his dispose; and therefore is not limited to any part of it, or included in any place in it; though he for a while condescended to make the cherubim his throne, and the ark his footstool, in the most holy place in the temple; which were all figurative of other and better things, and so no more used:

where is the house that ye build unto me? what house can be built for such an immense Being? and how needless as well as fruitless is it to attempt it? where can a place be found to build one in, since the heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool? and therefore, if any place, it must be some that is without them both, and that can hold both; but what space can be conceived of that can contain such a throne and footstool, and much less him that sits thereon? see 1 Kings 8:27,

and where is the place of my rest? for God to take up his rest and residence in, as a man does in his house? no such place can be found for him, nor does he need any; indeed the temple was built for an house of rest for the ark of the Lord, which before was moved from place to place; but then this was merely typical of the church, which God has chosen for his rest, and where he will dwell, as well as of heaven, the resting place of his people with him to all eternity; no place on earth is either his rest or theirs.

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