This week’s Haftarah portion is Isaiah 66:1-24. Listen in as Dr. Jeffrey Myers answers the question of: "What does Hashem want from us?" in the context of Isaiah 66.
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 Haftarah:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftarah Portion – Isaiah 66:1-24
As I get older there are times when I realize I can be forgetful. I need to write a note to remind me, make sure I put things where I always do so I don’t forget. I don’t accept it; I battle against the evils of forgetfulness. Whether it’s keys, sunglasses, phone or where did I park my car…it can drive me crazy! Have you ever had one of those days, or weeks? You just feel like you’re forgetting something. Maybe it even feels that way in your spiritual life too. You feel like you are forgetting something in your walk with Adonai. Something is just missing; all the pieces don’t totally fit. Yes, we know we are living for Yah the way He wants us to. We think we are doing all the things we’re supposed to; but we seem disconnected somehow. We don’t feel close with Adonai all the time.
This can be a symptom of a deeper issue. So, we need to ask the question, what does Yah want from us? What’s Yah looking for? Isaiah is going to help us answer these questions in this haftorah. Isaiah 66 is the final chapter in the book and he’s writing to the Israelites who possessed both the temple and the Torah. Sadly, they had become so distracted in their walk with Adonai; so, distracted by many things about their religious culture and their spiritual activities. They had forgotten what Yah really wants.
So, Isaiah is holding out to them the need for repentance so they would inherit the promise of the new heaven, the new earth. He speaks truth to the people by testifying that some will receive this promise and some who could have—who can—but who will not. So, he gives them a lesson with clarity on their relationship with Adonai. He tells them what Yah is looking for, and pleads with them to make certain that their calling and election are sure.
Isaiah 66:1,2 says, “Thus says Adonai: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you build for me, and what is the place of my rest. All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares Adonai.” Adonai is not merely stating where He sits or what He does with His feet. He is telling them who He is and what He’s not looking for. This is their, and our, reality check…here we are so proud of the temple, our achievements, our ministries on display, our work for the Kingdom, all the sacrifices they/we have given but we have failed to give thought of our spiritual health. We feel we are A-okay because of what our resume entails, but that’s not what Yah was looking for.
The repletion in verse one is staggering, “What or where is the House”, “What or where is the place of my rest?” Here is Adonai, viewing the massive temple structure but yet seems not to see it. The Temple is good, the formalities and rituals are outlined and demanded but yet within this structure they miss the power, because the confidence is not in those things but in Adonai Himself. They lost focus! Yah is telling them: I don’t need your fancy temple and your rituals. I’m not impressed by that…I own everything. I made everything. There is nothing that you can do for me that I need.
Paul talks about this in Acts 17:24-25, “The God who made the universe and everything in it, and who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in man-made temples; nor is He served by human hands, as if he lacked something; since it is He Himself who gives life and breath and everything to everyone.” This is good to know—we serve Yah! We can stand back and look at all we’ve made, and all our accomplishments but Adonai says, “I’m sorry; what have you really done…are you the Creator? Solomon understood because after the Temple was finished in all its majesty, He stood before the altar in the presence of Adonai and Israel and proclaimed, “O Lord, Yah of Israel, there is no Yah like you…But will Yah indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built”. (I Kings 8:22,23,27). Will Yah dwell on the earth? The answer is no and yes…Yah will indeed dwell with His people but how can the earth contain Him? We should be staggered with the realization that He will dwell among His people. Immanuel—Yah with us—Yeshua walked the earth Himself and now the Ruach takes up residence in all who humble themselves before Adonai. Awesome!
Our body is a temple of the Ruach HaKodesh! We must humble ourselves, be contrite in spirit and tremble at His word. This is really just three things to say the same things. To humble means to be socially at the bottom, to be intentionally low. To be contrite in spirit literally means lamed in spirit. This is someone who understand that at the core of who they are, they have broken legs. They are lamed in spirit. Spiritual inability. Damaged sinful failure. Incompetence, inability, powerless. Contrite in spirit. Broken!
Someone who trembles at His word is really the resulting response of true humility—fear of hearing Yah speak, trembling before our Creator and His words to us. This is the heart attitude where it all begins. The way is down! We say we want revival, spiritual renewal, to spread the gospel, a fresh, clear spiritual life and vitality within our congregation. This begins when the people of Yah are so broken over their sin that all they can do is go low before Yah.
Yah’s not looking at all what we do for Him. He’s looking for us to recognize and admit that we can’t do anything for Him. He’s looking for us to recognize and admit that we are spiritually broken, lame in spirit. Broken legs.
Isaiah 66 3 reveals that they might be doing all the things He has commanded, but to Yah it looks totally opposite. Their heart is so far away that when they go to worship, they’re actually sinning. Yah is not pleased. He’s offended. It’s like Yah is saying, “You do all this stuff for Me when you won’t do the one thing, I’m asking you to do.” Isaiah is saying—YHVH is saying through Isaiah—that you could be doing all the right things and still be a false worshiper without humility. Well, how can I tell if my worship is false? True humility is connected to the way we treat other believers. True followers of Yah, true worshippers, are characterized by this humility, and the primary way that humility expresses itself is towards other people in the congregation. When we want to find fault, we can always discover something, but the eyes of negative scrutiny are an offense to Yah!
Adonai holds out to believers the encouragement of a great coming eschatological reversal. Those who are humble in this word will be exalted, and He says to the encouragement of all of the humble, those who exalt themselves over you and trample all over you, they will be humbled…forever.
If we don’t tremble before His word today, we will tremble before His wrath forever. The city and temple will be gone. Your enemies will be exposed as divine enemies. They will receive eternal wrath, while you are welcomed into the presence of Yah in the new heaven and the new earth.
Adonai, you’ve given us your Ruach so that you would empower us to live and to walk in your way. Father, as we seek to obey the truth of your word, let it be from humble hearts. Let it be in obedience by the Ruach, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, so that we may live!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha
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Enjoy the Sabbath of Adonai and the fellowship of the people of Yah. Give Him the praise due His name!