April 22, 2023: Haftorah - Isaiah 66:1-24
This week's Haftorah reading is from Isaiah 66:1-24. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers as he raises some very important questions we need to ask ourselves, in this Haftorah portion: What kind of heart will we create that ADONAI might dwell? Will we create a spiritual life of obedience and discipline where ELOHIM can rest? The Torah gives us two options: Blessing and Cursing! Which one will we choose?
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftorah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftorah Portion – Isaiah 66:1-24
In Isaiah 66:1 the prophet speaks the words of Adonai, “So says Adonai, “The heavens are My Throne, and the earth is My footstool; which is the house that you will build for Me, and which is the place of My rest?” He finishes with verses 23 and 24, “And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from Sabbath to Sabbath, that all flesh shall come to prostrate themselves before Me, says Adonai.” “And they shall go out and see the corpses of the people who rebelled against Me, for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring for all flesh.” Adonai wants to know what kind of house will we build for Him to dwell? We see the contrast between obedience and disobedience and the reward for both.
Elohim is all existing, uncreated, all knowing, all present, all powerful so there is no building that could contain Him. What kind of heart will you create that he might dwell in you? Will you create a spiritual life of obedience and discipline where Elohim can rest? Will you walk undisciplined and in disobedience that does not allow Elohim to take up residence? Torah has two sides: blessing and cursing! Our walk with Elohim will produce the result of our heart. We will either enjoy the restoration or the retribution of our Creator.
We can look forward to the future with fear or with hope. Elohim offers us restoration and fellowship only if we respond to His Word humbly. He is revealing that there is an end to this last age and a reward for those who have yielded their lives to the Messiah. However, the rebellious will also be rewarded as retribution is given in the end. Yeshua quotes Isaiah 66:24 in Mark 9:43-48 to contrast the final state of the redeemed with that of the lost. Yeshua is warning His listeners that there are everlasting consequences for rejecting Him. He urges His followers not to let anything keep them from “life” or “the Kingdom of Elohim”. He tells us that if our hand makes us sin to cut it off. Better to enter eternal life maimed than to go to hell with both hands, to unquenchable fire, a place where the worm never dies! He concludes by telling us that everyone is going to be salted with fire. Salt is excellent, but if it loses its saltiness, how will you season it? So have salt in yourselves- that is, be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:43-48).
Yet, just as many people reject Isaiah’s call to repentance, many in Yeshua’s day- and even many today- reject His invitation to life and thereby will find themselves in “hell”- unquenchable fire. It really is a simple decision of yes or no. What kind of house will you build? Will you follow and obey His Word? Will you surrender and yield your own desires to follow after what He desires? Isaiah 66 even talks about eating swine and rodents that are an abomination and explains that we will worship Him from new moons to new moons and Sabbath to Sabbath. Why is it so difficult to surrender? If we refuse to follow the Truth of His Word, we are rejecting the very author of that Truth. There will be a divine retribution for rejecting Yah’s Son, the Messiah.
Rejection is “the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.; the spurning of a person’s affections.” The Word has been given to us to follow but many have dismissed it as outdated and culturally unpopular. However, to reject His Word is to reject Yeshua! Yeshua spoke to the scribes and Pharisees, the wise and all knowing who should have known the Torah and yet He called them; hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, snakes, brood of vipers in Matthew 23. Judgment was coming- just like it was fulfilled in the days of Isaiah it would be filled after the days of Yeshua life. Judgment is coming again which cannot be escaped except for total surrender to Adonai.
Halleluyah…there is restoration! In Isaiah 66:7-21, Israel returns to the Land. Adonai will finish what He started, resulting in great joy for His people. Jerusalem will be rebuilt; peace and wealth will flow to her. These promises offered hope to the children of Israel then and today. It is the hope for all who believe and follow Yeshua. He is coming and we must be ready. He is coming not only with blessings but with retribution…whose side will you be on? Isaiah 66:15-16 gives a graphic depiction of Yah’s wrath: “Look, Adonai will come with fire- His chariots are like the whirlwind- to execute His anger and fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For Adonai will execute judgment on all flesh and with His fiery sword, and many will be slain by Adonai.” The fire and sword are the harsh aspect of every divine intervention but this is the final one. While it has reference to all men, the special objects of wrath are the apostates, who have known the light and despised it. Isaiah references Leviticus 11:7,29 in Isaiah 66:16-17. When Yeshua returns, He will judge all nations and because of that the world will see His glory.
The closing verses of this breathtaking book contrast the joy of the redeemed and the fate of the damned magnifying Yah’s grace and justice. As the Gentiles once descended on Israel in search of plunder, they will in the age to come travel expectantly to worship YHVH. As they depart Jerusalem, they will see the corpses of those who rebelled against their King. Just outside the city lies in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna in Greek), a place where children once were sacrificed to pagan gods, in Yeshua’s day, a trash dump where fires burned continually. The valley is a picture of judgment and Yeshua used it as an illustration of the horrors of hell. In the synagogue Isaiah 66:23 is read again after verse 24, to soften the ending of the prophecy but the reality of hell is a true ending for unbelievers. For believers, however, the new heavens and earth are purged of sin and its consequences.
There is no doubt that Elohim will shake the earth to its very foundation in the days to come, judging all people and removing the curse of sin. In the meantime, in II Peter 3:10-13, Peter proclaims how we should live in the light of Elohim’s future earthly renovation—we should live in holy conduct and godliness as we earnestly wait.
Isaiah has given us two choices: Trust Adonai and live or rebel against Adonai and die. He is calling the professing people of Elohim back to spiritual reality. He is warning against hypocrisy and empty worship. He pleads for faith, obedience, a heart that delights in Yah, and a life that glorifies Elohim. May we walk in the power of a renewed spirit by the blood of Yeshua and may we follow the Torah as a sign of our commitment.
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha!
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Have a blessed and joyful Sabbath. Trust in Adonai and serve Him with all your heart. Surrender your lives totally to Him and be the example of holiness to a world in darkness. See you at the altar!