In this chapter the Lord reveals what will happen when He returns to set up His kingdom on earth. It will be a time of blessing for His people but a time of judgment for His enemies. Isaiah 66:15-17 speak of God’s judgment upon the nations that rebelled against Him and upon apostate Israel. He introduces this portion with these words in verse 14, “…the hand of the LORD shall be known toward His servants, and His indignation toward His enemies.” Now let’s go over verses 15-17 verse by verse.

Verse 15 declares, “For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.” FIRE is used often in Scripture as a symbol of God’s holy judgment against sinners. Consider the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8,And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His might angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul is speaking of the same judgment as Isaiah, for when Christ returns again to establish His kingdom He will pour out His wrath upon all who defied God and all who rejected the good news of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 25:31-46 we learn that He will gather all the nations of the world and separate the saved from the unsaved. In verse 41 He will pronounce judgment on all those who spurned His grace and rejected the Savior with these words, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Verse 16 reads, “For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” The “sword” is also a symbol of divine judgment. The apostle John was given more details of this judgment in Revelation 19:15 and 21, “And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty GodAnd the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceedeth out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” The scene here is Armageddon, where all nations will be gathered for the last “World War.” The armies of the nations are assembled to do battle with one another, but when Christ appears we learn in verse 19 that they will join forces and “make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army.” But there won’t be one shot fired against the Lord of glory, for He will but speak a word and all His enemies will be vanquished.

Verse 17 goes on to describe those among His people who had defiled themselves and were deserving of God’s judgment. It says, “They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.” To the very end, unbelieving Israelites will remain “religious,” seeking to “sanctify themselves” and “purify themselves.” But the Lord reveals that their “religion” is an abomination to Him, for it is nothing more than pagan idolatry. Instead of worshipping God by faith in His prescribed manner, they worship in “heathen gardens.” Isaiah had spoken of these previously in Isaiah 65:3, “A people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick.” Instead of feasting on animal sacrifices appointed by the Lord, they eat “swine’s flesh” and “the mouse,” animals that God pronounced unclean in Leviticus 11:27 and 29. Because of this “veneer of religion” and their rejection of Christ, they “shall be consumed.”

Let us close this short meditation with these words from verse 18, “I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory.” God’s “glory” will be revealed in these judgments! His holiness and righteousness will be displayed as the “fire” and the “sword” consumes His enemies.  (181.6)  (DO)