ISAIAH 66:22, 23:
That the public worship of God in religious assemblies shall be carefully and constantly attended upon by all that are thus brought as an offering to the Lord, Isa 66:23. This is described in expressions suited to the Old-Testament dispensation, to show that though the ceremonial law should be abolished, and the temple service should come to an end, yet God should be still as regularly, constantly, and acceptably worshipped as ever. Heretofore only Jews went up to appear before God, and they were bound to attend only three times a year, and the males only; but now all flesh, Gentiles as well as Jews, women as well as men, shall come and worship before God, in his presence, though not in his temple at Jerusalem, but in “New Jerusalem”, which shall be to them as the tabernacle of meeting was to the Jews. And they shall have the benefit of these holy convocations frequently, every new moon and every sabbath, not, as formerly, at the three annual feasts only. The new moons and the sabbaths are mentioned because, under the law, though the yearly feasts were to be celebrated at Jerusalem, yet the new moons and the sabbaths were religiously observed all the country over, in the schools of the prophets first and afterwards in the synagogues (2Ki 4:23; Am 8:5; Ac 15:21), according to the model of which Christian assemblies seem to be formed. Where the Lord’s day is weekly sanctified, and the Lord’s supper monthly celebrated, and both are duly attended on, there this promise is fulfilled. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:23). We know what it means because it is translated to month after month. “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2). We are told we apart from gathering every weekly Sabbath we shall have access the tree of life moon after moon that is month after month to take its fruit.
About Destruction: They are men that have transgressed against God, not only broken his laws, but broken covenant with him, and thought themselves able to contend with him. It may be meant especially of the unbelieving Jews that rejected the gospel of Christ.
What their misery is? Our Saviour applies it to the everlasting misery and torment of impenitent sinners in the future state, where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched (Mr 9:44); for the soul, whose conscience is its constant tormentor, is immortal, and God, whose wrath is its constant terror, is eternal in the sense that they will never live again.
What notice shall be taken of it? Those that worship God shall go forth and look upon them, to affect their own hearts with the love of their Redeemer, when they see what misery they are redeemed from. As it will aggravate the miseries of the damned to see others in the kingdom of heaven and themselves thrust out (Lu 13:28), so it will illustrate the joys and glories of the blessed to see what becomes of those that died in their transgression, and it will elevate their praises to think that they were themselves as brands plucked out of that burning. To the honour of that free grace which thus distinguished them let the redeemed of the Lord with all humility, and not without a holy trembling, sing their triumphant songs. Notice
Mal:4:1-3: For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
These emblematical images, expressing heaven and hell, were in use among the Jews before our Saviour’s time; and in using them he complied with their notions. This should not even give us a doubt of consistency with the view of the New earth and Heaven when we are dealing with redefining Isaiah 66 from Ancient Israel to Spiritual Israel
ZECHARIAH 14:16, 19-20
Shall even go up from year to year] The Jews had three grand original festivals, which characterized different epochs in their history, viz.:-
- The feast of the Passover, in commemoration of their departure from Egypt.
- The feast of Pentecost, in commemoration of the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai.
- The feast of tabernacles, in commemoration of their wandering forty years in the wilderness.
This last feast is very properly brought in here to point out the final restoration of the Christians, and their establishment in the light and liberty of the Gospel of Christ, after their long wandering upon the sinful planet of earth.
Verse 19: This shall be the punishment-of all nations that come not up] God will have his public worship established under the New and Earth and New Heavens never to be corrupted again or His children to be scattered again Nahum 1:9, and those who will have not taken the chance of the Gospel of Christ but abused the chances of mercy extended upon them to be part of this Kingdom will utterly be destroyed. No Canaanite viz no unclean or ungodly person (Isa 35:8; 52:1; Joe 3:17). Compare as to the final state subsequent to the millennium, Re 21:27; 22:15. If a man would have the beginnings of heaven, it must be by absolute consecration of everything to God on earth. Let his life be a liturgy, a holy service of acted worship.
Verse 19, 20: Upon the bells of the horses] They appear, formerly, to have had bells on horses, camels, &c., as we have now, to amuse the animals, and encourage them in their work so no one in heaven will have any complain to appear before the Lord. The same as was on the miter of the high priest (Ex 28:36). This implies that all things, even the most common, shall be sacred to Jehovah, and not merely the things which under the law had peculiar sanctity attached to them. The “bells” were metal plates hanging from the necks of horses and camels as ornaments, which tinkled (as the Hebrew root means) by striking against each other. As the Gospel is a holy system, preaching holiness and producing holiness in those who believe, so all without, as well as within, shall bear this impress; and even a man’s labour shall be begun and continued, and ended in the Lord; yea, and the animals he uses, and the instruments he works with, shall be all consecrated to God through Christ. No impure thing shall be in heaven, I John 3:1, 2. The priesthood of Christ will be explained more fully both by the Mosaic types and by the New Testament then the Song of Solomon, now obscure, will be understood, for the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated in heaven (Re 19:1-21), and on earth it will be a Solomonic period, peaceful, glorious, and nuptial. There will be no king but a prince; the sabbatic period of the judges will return, but not with the Old Testament, but New Testament glory (Isa 1:26; Eze 45:1-25).
Why the Feast of Tabernacles and no the others! The other two great yearly feasts, Passover and Pentecost, are not specified, because, their antitypes having come, the types are done away with. But the feast of tabernacles will be commemorative in all ages as I have pointed earlier. It was kept on their return from the Babylonian dispersion (Ne 8:14-17). It was the feast on which Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:8); a pledge of His return to His capital to reign (compare Le 23:34, 39, 40, 42 ;). A feast of peculiar joy (Ps 118:15; Ho 12:9): The feast on which Jesus gave the invitation to the living waters of salvation (“Hosanna,” save us now, was the cry, Mt 21:9; compare Ps 118:25,26) (John 7:2,37). To the ransomed, too, it will be significant of perfected salvation after past wanderings in a moral wilderness, as it originally commemorated the ingathering of the harvest. The seedtime of tears shall then have issued in the harvest of joy. “All the nations” could not possibly in person go up to the feast, but the redeemed, they may do so without any difficulty: margin Isaiah 40:28-31.
Whether the rules for public worship here laid down were designed to be observed, even in those things wherein they differed from the law of Moses, and were so observed under the second temple, is not certain; we find not in the history of that latter part of the Jewish church that they governed themselves in their worship by these ordinances, as one would think they should have done, but only by law of Moses, looking upon this then in the next age after as mystical, and not literal. We may observe, in these verses,
That the place of worship was fixed, and rules were given concerning that, both to prince and people.
The east gate, which was kept shut at other times, was to be opened on the sabbath days, on the new moons (Eze 46:1), and whenever the prince offered a voluntary offering, (Eze 46:12). Of the keeping of this gate ordinarily shut we read before Eze 44:2; whereas the other gates of the court were opened every day, this was opened only on high days and on special occasions, when it was opened for the prince, who was to go in by the way of the porch of that gate, Eze 46:2,8. Some think he went in with the priests and Levites into the inner court (for into that court this gate was the entrance), and they observe that magistrates and ministers should join forces, and go the same way, hand in hand, in promoting the service of God. But it should rather seem that he did not go through the gate (as the glory of the Lord had done), though it was open, but he went by the way of the porch of the gate, stood at the post of the gate, and worshipped at the threshold of the gate (Eze 46:2), where he had a full view of the priests’ performances at the altar, and signified his concurrence in them, for himself and for the people of the land, that stood behind him at the door of that gate, Eze 46:3. Thus must every prince show himself to be of David’s mind, who would very willingly be a door-keeper in the house of his God, and, as the word there is, lie at the threshold, Ps 84:10. Note, The greatest of men are less than the least of the ordinances of God. Even princes themselves, when they draw near to God, must worship with reverence and godly fear, owning that even they are unworthy to approach to him. But Christ is our prince, whom God causes to draw near and approach to him, Jer 30:21
They are trees for meat, and the fruit of them shall not be consumed, for it shall produce fresh fruit every month. The leaf shall be for medicine, and it shall not fade, This part of the vision is copied out into St. John’s vision very exactly (Re 22:2), where, on either side of the river, is said to grow the tree of life, which yielded her fruit every month, and the leaves were for the healing of the nations. Christians are supposed to be these trees, ministers especially, trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord (Isa 61:3), set by the rivers of water, the waters of the sanctuary (Ps 1:3) grafted into Christ the tree of life, and by virtue of their union with him made trees of life too, rooted in him, Col 2:7. There is a great variety of these trees, through the diversity of gifts with which they are endued by that one Spirit who works all in all. They grow on the bank of the river, or they keep close to holy ordinances, and through them derive from Christ sap and virtue. They are fruit-trees, designed, as the fig-tree and the olive, with their fruits to honour God and man, Jg 9:9. The fruit thereof shall be for meat, for the lips of the righteous feed many. The fruits of their righteousness are one way or other beneficial. The very leaves of these trees are for medicine, for bruises and sores, margin. Good Christians with their good discourses, which are as their leaves, as well as with their charitable actions, which are as their fruits, do good to those about them; they strengthen the weak, and bind up the broken-hearted. Their cheerfulness does good like a medicine, not only to themselves, but to others also. They shall be enabled by the grace of God to persevere in their goodness and usefulness; their leaf shall not fade, or lose its medicinal virtue, having not only life in their root, but sap in all their branches; their profession shall not wither (Ps 1:3), neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; that is, they shall not lose the principle of their fruitfulness, but shall still bring forth fruit in old age, to show that the Lord is upright (Ps 92:14-15), or the reward of their fruitfulness shall abide for ever; they bring forth fruit that shall abound to their account in the great day, fruit to life eternal; that is indeed fruit which shall not be consumed. They bring new fruit according to their months, some in one month and others in another: so that still there shall be one or other found to serve the glory of God for the purpose he designs. Or each one of them shall bring forth fruit monthly, which denotes an abundant disposition to fruit-bearing (they shall never be weary of well-doing), and a very happy climate, such that there shall be a perpetual spring and summer. And the reason of this extraordinary fruitfulness is because their waters issued out of the sanctuary; it is not to be ascribed to any thing in themselves, but to the continual supplies of divine grace, with which they are watered every moment (Isa 27:3); for, whoever planted them, it was that which gave the increase.