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Lowell Brueckner

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A Nation Born in a Day


59. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 66

(Please read a few paragraphs, just added, from A. W. Tozer) 

Resisting the Holy Spirit

“Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?” (v.1). Even after constructing a temple, which was a wonder of the ancient world, Solomon humbly recognized that it was not a worthy place, in which the Creator could dwell. He said, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built” (1 Kg.8:27).

When the martyr, Stephen, gave his indisputable argument about the ways that Israel had always resisted the Holy Spirit, he included their devotion to the temple. “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says…” and then quoted this first verse of Isaiah’s last chapter. Two verses later Stephen says, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you” (Ac.7:48-51).God had only ordered the raising of a tabernacle in the wilderness, as He reminded Nathan, the prophet (2 Sam.7:6-7). Until the literal reign of Christ upon the earth, every building made by man for Him, is meaningless, as far as spiritual significance is concerned.

Jesus gave no instructions concerning the formation of any institution founded on earthly soil and his disciples took no steps in that direction. There may have been places rented for meeting in the early days of Christianity, but most of the evidence of meeting places referred to homes. “The church in their house” (Ro.16:5; 1 Co.16:19; Col.4:15; Phm.1:2). No Bible schools were built, no organizations formed, no central seat of government was established, no system or program was taught or followed. The book of Acts described the acts of the Holy Spirit and the disciples moved and ministered in His power and by His direction. 

Consider these thoughts by A. W. Tozer: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” --Acts 1:8 

“You know, the Church started out with a Bible, then it got a hymnbook, and for years that was it--a Bible and a hymnbook. The average church now certainly wouldn't be able to operate on just a hymnbook and the Bible. Now we have to have all kinds of truck. A lot of people couldn't serve God at all without at least a vanload of equipment to keep them happy. 

Some of these attractions that we have to win people and keep them coming may be fine or they may be cheap. They may be elevated or they may be degrading. They may be artistic or they may be coarse-- it all depends upon who is running the show! But the Holy Spirit is not the center of attraction, and the Lord is not the one who is in charge. We bring in all sorts of antiscriptural and unscriptural claptrap to keep the people happy and keep them coming. 

As I see it, the great woe is not the presence of these religious toys and trifles--but the fact that they have become a necessity, and the presence of the Eternal Spirit is not in our midst!” 

"Lord, we've been taught good methods in Seminary; we've emphasized the need to be technologically up-to-date to reach our generation. As I do indeed commit myself to excellence in reaching people for Christ, help me to remember that the power is not in the methods or the means, but in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
" Sermon: The Eternal Spirit

The Maker of all things, Who brought all things into existence, is not looking for a material gift. Here is what He seeks: “This is the one to whom I will look; he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (v.2). He is looking for people, individuals actually, who are humble and who possess the fear of God. Give Him this and satisfy His heart. From these He formed a remnant in the time of Isaiah and from these He builds His church today. His attention is focused on people, not things, and not on the development of “a work”, unless that work is done in the inner man. It is amazing how churchmen can stray so far from the original plan of first-century Christianity and think it normal. In its beginnings, the church was pure, pristine, primitive and powerful.

A trembling minority and an evil majority

Throughout history and up to the present day, those who are humble and fear God are in the minority, while rebels against their Creator form the bulk of the population. Nonetheless they tend to be religious, but God hates the pretense of every one. In accordance with the ceremonial law, He speaks of one, who sacrifices an ox, but has the murderous heart of a pagan, offering human sacrifices. The sweet offering of frankincense is unacceptable from the soul of an idolater. The beauty of Levitical offerings were only received if the heart was right. These hearts are marred, as those, who offer unclean animals such as dogs and pigs.

The core of evil lies in fallen nature, whose ways are contrary to the ways of God. They refuse to submit to Him. As a temple made with hands cannot satisfy the Creator, so the outward practices of the hypocrite cannot justify an unclean soul: “These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations” (v.3). Their punishment will be according to their sin… “I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them.” They turned a deaf ear to God, ignoring His word, and made the wrong choices… “And chose that in which I did not delight” (v.4). Man’s will is harbored in a depraved soul.  

Isaiah’s remnant who feared God, were of the same nature as the followers of Jesus. He taught them that they could expect the same from the world around them as Isaiah’s remnant: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you… They will put you out of the synagogues; Indeed the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (Jn.15:19, 16:2). Isaiah said the same… the God-fearers would be hated, cast out, and their “brothers” would think that they were glorifying God by doing so.

The word teaches us to honor God above all, because, although society will hate and persecute, “it is they who shall be put to shame” (v.5).  His honor must be our goal and His word must drown out the sounds of the world. Can you hear it? “The sound of an uproar from the city! A sound from the temple! The sound of the Lord, rendering recompense to his enemies!” (v.6)

An unprecedented delivery

 Verse 7, “Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son” is a wonderful contrast to the confession of Hezekiah in chapter 37:3… “The children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.” Israel is coming into another era and her God is taking total charge. It is a powerful, sovereign work that has never happened before in the history of all the nations of the world.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, their God, Jehovah, drew them back to the land, from which the Romans drove them in 70 A.D. After World War II, through a series of providential events, the English returned the land to them and Hebrew once again became the official language: “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?” It is unprecedented, but on May 14, 1948, Israel once again became a sovereign nation! The Lord has done it and it stands! Really, it is the first time that Israel has been totally sovereign, since they were carried into Babylonian captivity, 2500 years ago. For about 1875 years, they were wanderers over the face of the whole earth, without a homeland.

Not without pain, there was opposition and war, but very quickly, “she brought forth her children” (v.8). The Lord reminds us of a divine principle that cannot fail. He never starts something that He does not finish: “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” (v.9) The question has a sure, positive answer. He will not undo, what He has done and His work always comes to total fruition. He has proclaimed it and it will be done. Remember - prophecy from the lips of the eternal God is as sure as history.

This amazing prophecy carries a command, which the Christian church most certainly must obey; even secular nations should respond to it: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her” (v.10). Many mourned after the truth of the Nazi holocaust became public news. As the Jews were persecuted, sensitive people risked their lives and freedom to help them and their children. Now it is time to rejoice over Jerusalem and the glory of her God.

The Judgment of the Nations will occur before the Millennium and those who rejoiced with her and aided her in her grief, will reap the benefits. In the future, the Gentile nations will be nourished and blessed from her: “That you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance” (v.11) The Lord lavishes future blessing upon Jerusalem and Salem will once again really signify peace. Peace will flow like a river and the glory of peace will extend like an overflowing river… that is, peace flows and its glory overflows.
Jerusalem, the mother of us all

Does the promise, which continues in verse 12, still refer to those outside Jerusalem, who love her, or does it concern the Jewish nation around her? It seems to me that the abundance of Jerusalem will sustain the entire planet; it will be an overflowing stream of blessing. So, I think, the wealth of the world will flow into Jerusalem, and in turn, from Jerusalem, the Messianic government will bless the world.

Jerusalem will be like a mother, providing abundant nourishment, peace and comfort, “carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (v.12,13). It is the fountain of heartfelt, spiritual joy and physical strength that comes from within, reversing the curse, as we saw in the last chapter (65:20).

“The hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies” (v.14). Perhaps, no comment is needed for the last sentence, except to say that the Lord’s hand will be very evident in the lives of his people, as will His wrath to the enemies. The next verses depict final wrath and judgment towards “all flesh”. All opposition to His reign will be totally squelched in fiery judgment. “And those slain by the Lord will be many” (v.15,16).

The Battle of Armageddon

Idolatry will reach fanatical proportions to the degree that people will “sanctify and purify themselves” for their idols, provoking the Lord to jealousy. They form gods in their own minds, under a tremendous heart deception. “They go into the gardens, following one in their midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice.” Mice were Philistine gods, you may remember, and mice are fed by poor people in India in superstitious devotion. Pigs have always represented uncleanness among the Hebrews and so, in the confused thinking of people in the last days, their way to sanctification and purification is sought through abominations.

Isaiah prophesies of Armageddon. Carnivorous birds will come, attracted by supernatural forces, “to eat the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great” (Rev.19:18). God will gather armies together from around the globe for destruction. “They shall come to an end together, declares the Lord.  For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues” (v.17,18). “I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war” (Rev.19:19). Zechariah also saw that day: “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zec.14:2).

The unfaithful and rebellious Jews will suffer a tremendous slaughter, before the Lord intervenes to save the remnant. There will be Gentile survivors as well, who will enter the Millennium and see His glory. A witness will go out in every direction to all the nations and a number of token nations are mentioned: Tarshish would be Spain to the west, Pul and Lud were in North Africa, Tubal was in northeast Asia Minor and Javan was in Greece. Witnesses will declare God’s glory in distant coastlands, “that have not heard my fame or seen my glory” (v.19).

In a recent chapter, we saw the Jews coming back to their land in ships (60:9). Now we see them coming on every kind of land transportation, by horses and chariots, mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem. The Gentiles will bring them as an offering to the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord” (v.20), so He will make some of them priests and Levites in the Millennial temple (v.21).

The Millennium will be the beginning of faithful national worship to the Lord, which will extend into the new heavens and the new earth. Offspring will be born during the thousand-year reign, who will enter eternity and worship before God forevermore. The name of Israel will not die out, when the redeemed enter the New Jerusalem (v.22). The gates of the city will be inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel (Rev.21:12). Beyond the Jews, “all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord” (v.23).

The Israelites looked back, after crossing the Red Sea, and saw the bodies of the Egyptians strewn along the sea shore (Ex.14:30) Isaiah mentions that those who inhabit the Millennium will have one last look at the bodies of the damned, who had rebelled against the Lord, slaughtered at Armageddon. With this observation comes a solemn reminder that this is not their end: “Their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched” (v.24). With that warning, Isaiah ends his prophecy. Jesus used this same language and pointed for an example to Gehenna, the ever-burning garbage dump outside Jerusalem. As Isaiah, Jesus kindly warned of the awful, eternal punishment of the condemned sinner, who would burn forever in the Lake of Fire.


Isaiah has given us the lessons of his day and has prophesied of future events, many of which have already been fulfilled. He prophesied profusely of the life and reign of the Messiah, a good part of which has literally come to pass in His First Advent. The world awaits the literal fulfillment of His Second Advent. He has led us through the Millennial reign of Christ and on into eternity with its New Heaven and New Earth.

During the past century and on into this 21st Century, Isaiah’s ministry carries a special impact upon us. As we live today, we do not have to look far into the past to see the final chapter of this book come alive before our eyes. We now can say that we are witnesses of the nation that was born in one day… on May 14, 1948. How much time still remains before the Time of the Gentiles comes to an end and the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy for his people take place? Following those years, which include the Great Tribulation, the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the Gentiles will be ushered into the Millennium and Christ will come with His church to reign from Mount Sion.

As I write and as you later read these words, in the Museum of Israel in a room called The Sanctuary of the Book, lies a copy of the book of Isaiah, which is at least 2,000 years old. The scroll is totally opened, it is entirely intact and, although we may not be able to read its classical Hebrew writing, it speaks to us and the world of our day! It was discovered above the Dead Sea in 1947, one year before Israel became a nation, and is now entrusted to its care. Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, has given an increasingly unbelieving world dazzling proof of the veracity of His living Word and His faithfulness in bringing it to pass. We should humble ourselves and tremble before Him.


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