True and False Worship
1* Thus says the LORD:
The heavens are my throne,
the earth, my footstool.
What house can you build for me?
Where is the place of my rest?a
2My hand made all these things
when all of them came to be—oracle of the LORD.
This is the one whom I approve:
the afflicted one, crushed in spirit,
who trembles at my word.b
3* The one slaughtering an ox, striking a man,
sacrificing a lamb, breaking a dog’s neck,
Making an offering of pig’s blood,
burning incense, honoring an idol—
These have chosen their own ways,
and taken pleasure in their own abominations.c
4I in turn will choose affliction for them
and bring upon them what they fear.
Because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
Because they did what was evil in my sight,
and things I do not delight in they chose,d
5Hear the word of the LORD,
you who tremble at his word!
Your kin who hate you
and cast you out because of my name say,
“May the LORD show his glory,
that we may see your joy”;
but they shall be put to shame.
6A voice roaring from the city,
a voice from the temple;
The voice of the LORD
rendering recompense to his enemies!e
Blessings of Prosperity and Consolation
7* Before she is in labor,
she gives birth;f
Before her pangs come upon her,
she delivers a male child.
8Who ever heard of such a thing,
or who ever saw the like?
Can a land be brought forth in one day,
or a nation be born in a single moment?
Yet Zion was scarcely in labor
when she bore her children.
9Shall I bring a mother to the point of birth,
and yet not let her child be born? says the LORD.
Or shall I who bring to birth
yet close her womb? says your God.
10* Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
Rejoice with her in her joy,
all you who mourn over her—g
11So that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
That you may drink with delight
at her abundant breasts!
12For thus says the LORD:
I will spread prosperity over her like a river,
like an overflowing torrent,
the wealth of nations.
You shall nurse, carried in her arms,
cradled upon her knees;
13As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.h
14You will see and your heart shall exult,
and your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
The LORD’s power shall be revealed to his servants,
but to his enemies, his wrath.
15For see, the LORD will come in fire,
his chariots like the stormwind;
To wreak his anger in burning rage
and his rebuke in fiery flames.
16For with fire the LORD shall enter into judgment,
and, with his sword, against all flesh;
Those slain by the LORD shall be many.i
17* Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who stands within, eating pig’s flesh, abominable things, and mice, shall all together come to an end, with their deeds and purposes—oracle of the LORD.
God Gathers the Nations. 18* I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; they shall come and see my glory.j 19I will place a sign among them; from them I will send survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands which have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. 20They shall bring all your kin from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.
22Just as the new heavens and the new earth
which I am making
Shall endure before me—oracle of the LORD—
so shall your descendants and your name endure.k
23From new moon to new moon,
and from sabbath to sabbath,
All flesh shall come to worship
before me, says the LORD.l
24* They shall go out and see the corpsesm
of the people who rebelled against me;
For their worm shall not die,
their fire shall not be extinguished;
and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.
* [66:1–2] The Lord rejects the abuses associated with Temple worship in order to emphasize his concern for the sincere worshiper.
* [66:3–6] The sacrificial abuses listed will only merit punishment. The true worshipers, the downtrodden, are those who “tremble” (vv. 2, 5) at God’s word. Although they are ridiculed by those who reject them (v. 5), the latter will be afflicted with divine punishment; their “choice” will be met by the Lord’s choice (v. 4).
* [66:7–9] The renewal of Zion is pictured in terms of a miraculous, instantaneous birth, facilitated by God’s intervention.
* [66:10–16] The poet addresses the children born of Jerusalem, their mother. In v. 13 the metaphor switches to the Lord as mother (cf. 49:15), comforting her charges but destroying the enemies.
* [66:17] This verse seems to have some connection with 65:2–3.
* [66:18–21] God summons the neighboring nations to Zion and from among them will send some to far distant lands to proclaim the divine glory. All your kin: Jews in exile. The “gathering of the people and the nations” is an eschatological motif common in the prophetic tradition; cf. 56:8.
* [66:24] God’s enemies lie dead outside the walls of the New Jerusalem; just as in the past, corpses, filth and refuse lay in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) outside the city; cf. 34:1–4; 2 Kgs 23:10.
a. [66:1] 2 Sm 7:4–7; 1 Kgs 8:27; Acts 7:49; 17:24.
d. [66:4] Is 65:12; Prv 1:24; Jer 7:13.
f. [66:7–9] Is 49:18–21; 54:1.
k. [66:22] Is 65:17; Rev 21:1.