This chapter warns stubborn and rebellious Jews of God's coming judgment. It also reveals Jesus' end-time deliverance of Israel at Armageddon, her rebirth as a nation, and nations streaming to Millennial Jerusalem to worship God.
This chapter is a warning to stubborn and rebellious Jews of God's coming judgment. It is also a revelation of Jesus' end-time deliverance of Israel at Armageddon, of her restoration as a nation, and of nations streaming to Millennial Jerusalem to worship God.

The previous chapter ended with a revelation of restored millennial Jerusalem, and it is natural that any Jewish reader would ask about the status of God's temple. In verses 1 to 2, God declares the heavens to be his throne, and the earth his footstool. In 1 Chronicles 28:2-3, King David says, "…I wanted to build a temple where the ark of the LORD's covenant could be placed as a footstool for our God. I have made the preparations for building it. But God said to me, ‘You must not build a temple to honour me, for you are a warrior and have spilled blood.'" In other words, the ark of the covenant, placed in the Jerusalem temple was considered to be an extension of God's heavenly throne. Figuratively speaking, God sat on his throne in heaven, with his feet resting on the ark of the covenant as a footstool. So God's throne was partly in heaven and partly on earth. Even though David was zealous for God, he was not considered qualified for the privilege of building an earthly temple that would become God's earthly throne, the resting place for his feet. In the end times, Jesus will build the Millennial temple (Zechariah 6:12), which will house his earthly throne (Jeremiah 3:17, Matthew 19:28, 25:31)

In verse 2, when God says, "I show special favour to the humble and contrite, who respect what I have to say", he is describing the kind of people who are qualified and privileged to partake in the rebuilding of the temple. These are his chosen remnant who serve him, as described in the previous chapter (65:8). By contrast, verses 3 to 5 describe rebellious Jews who mix their faith with elements of idolatry and who are corrupt and hypocritical. The implication is that these people are presumptuous in thinking they can help build God's temple. Instead, God will bring upon them the punishment they dread (v4), and they will be put to shame (v5). In Acts 7:49, Stephen quotes verses 1 to 2 before accusing his listeners of being stubborn and of resisting the Holy Spirit like their ancestors did. God says that he spoke but they did not respond or listen to him (as also in 65:2). Instead they did evil and displeased him (v4). Supposedly for the sake of God's name, they persecuted and taunted those who did respect what God had to say, and they hated them (v5). Jesus is clearly thinking of verse 5 in John 16:1-4, in Matthew 10:22, and in Luke 6:22 when he says, "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man!"

Verse 6 jumps forward to the end times, when the third temple has already been built, "The sound of battle comes from the city; the sound comes from the temple!" This is the temple which Antichrist desecrates with the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27). This battle is the battle of Armageddon, so called because the Antichrist's armies gather for battle at Tel Megiddo (Revelation 16:16). More correctly, it is the battle of Jerusalem, for which Tel Megiddo (Greek: Armageddon) is the gathering place. Verse 6b says, "It is the sound of the LORD paying back his enemies". Psalm 110:1-3 describes this same battle, "…Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool! The Lord extends your dominion from Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people willingly follow you when you go into battle". As Jesus defeats his enemies, figuratively they become his footstool, the earthly expression of God's throne, like the ark of the covenant. So it is appropriate that the sound of battle comes from the temple. The temple is the focal point of the battle. This is another expression of Jesus' zeal for God's temple, as expressed in Psalm 69:9, "…zeal for your house consumes me", and which is attributed to Jesus in John 2:17.

Verses 7 to 13 portray Israel suddenly giving birth to a male child. This highly figurative portrayal is paralleled in Micah 4 and 5, and in Revelation 12:1-6. In Micah 4:9-10, when end-time Israel falls to the Antichrist, Jerusalem is portrayed metaphorically as a woman screaming in the agonies of labor, and she has to leave the city and live in an open field in 'Babylon' (meaning Arabia). Zechariah 14:2 reveals that only half the city's population actually leave, and half stay in the city under occupation. According to Micah 5:3-4, the people of Israel will be handed over to their enemies until the woman in labor (Jerusalem) gives birth. She gives birth when the king (Jesus) and the rest of his countrymen (those exiled to Arabia) return to be reunited with the people of Israel. So here in Isaiah, the return of Jesus to Jerusalem is likened to Jerusalem giving birth to a son (v7), because his arrival brings relief from her agonies. And also the return of the end-time exiles from 'Babylon' is likened to Jerusalem giving birth to sons (v8). This deliverance of Jerusalem, and return of those in exile is also the rebirth of the nation in a single day (v8). From Revelation 12 and Zechariah 14, it becomes clear that the birth of the 'son' and the birth of the 'sons' are separate events. In Revelation 12:5, Jesus' return to Jerusalem is again portrayed as Israel giving birth to a son, but it occurs at the beginning of the Great Tribulation when Jerusalem falls. Her male child is then suddenly caught up to God and his throne while Israel flees into the wilderness to be taken care of for the rest of the Great Tribulation. From Zechariah 14:4-5, it becomes clear that this birth of the 'son' is fulfilled by Jesus' arrival on the Mount of Olives at the fall of Jerusalem. After dividing the Mount of Olives to facilitate the escape of Jewish refugees, he is then caught back up to God's throne in heaven, from where he directs end-time events. Then at the last of the seven trumpets (Revelation 11:15), he returns in glory, liberates the Jews from exile in Arabia, and leads them back to Israel to fight the battle of Armageddon and liberate Jerusalem.

It is reasonable to identify the founding of the modern State of Israel on 14 May 1948 as a fulfilment of Israel's national rebirth in verse 8, "Can a country be brought forth in one day?" This immediately set off the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which Israel won, although they didn't recover Jerusalem until the Six-Day War of 1967. However, at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, Israel will fall to the Antichrist and his armies (Ezekiel 38, Zechariah 14, Daniel 11:41). So the nation will once again need to be reborn when Jesus rescues Israel and defeats her enemies. So it is likely that the complete fulfilment of verse 8 awaits the second coming and the battle of Armageddon. In verse 9, God asks, "“Do I bring a baby to the birth opening and then not deliver it?” Compared to what Israel will become after the second coming, is the State of Israel as we see it today merely like a baby in the birth opening? God has not brought Israel this far already only to abandon her. Although Israel is yet to pass through her 'time of great trouble' (Jeremiah 30:7), she can be confident in the many promises of her end-time deliverance by the Messiah.

In verses 10 to 12, millennial Jerusalem becomes the happy mother. All those who loved her and mourned over her become like children nursing at her breasts, carried at her side, and playfully bounced on her knees. In verse 12, Jerusalem's prosperity flows like a river, and the riches of nations flow into her like a stream that floods its banks. Her prosperity overflows.

In verse 13, still addressing those who love Jerusalem and mourned over her (v10), God likens himself to a mother and promises to console them as a mother consoles a child. This will make them happy and they will be revived (v14). God will reveal his power to his servants. This is a picture of joyful spiritual revival for God's people. But Jesus reveals God's anger to his enemies. He comes with chariots, with fire, with a windstorm and with flaming arrows (v15). He judges all humanity and kills many (v16). These verses closely parallel the rest of Psalm 110, in which God's people willingly join Jesus in battle as he unleashes his anger on the nations and executes enemy kings.

When Jesus judges all humanity and kills many (v16), those who follow idolatrous religious practices, like those described at the beginning of this chapter, will be destroyed together with them (v17). God is going to gather all the nations and ethnic groups together to witness his glory (v18). This is the gathering to Armageddon, as described in Revelation 16:16. Jesus will perform a mighty act among them (v19), which is his defeat of all the nations' armies, and his liberation of Jerusalem. He will then send survivors of these armies as messengers to the nations, to tell them of the splendour they have witnessed. At Jesus' second coming, Isaiah 40:5 tells us, "The splendor of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it at the same time". However, not everyone will witness the battle of Armageddon, and after it is over, Jesus sends out evangelists to tell the nations what they witnessed. Several nations are listed as receiving these messengers, including Tarshish (possibly Spain), Pul or Put (Lybia), Lud (Lydia in western Turkey), Tubal (eastern Turkey), Javan (Ionia on the coast of western Turkey) and distant coastlands (representing the ends of the earth) (v19). The messengers will instruct all these nations to escort all their Jews to Jerusalem. The nations will bring them to Jerusalem like offerings of tribute, using every available type of transport (v20). Jesus will select some of these restored exiles as priests and Levites (v21). The new heavens and new earth will remain standing, as will the nation of Israel (v22). By the new heavens and new earth, Isaiah seems to be referring to the millennial heavens and millennial earth (see my comments on Isaiah 65:17-25). He doesn't seem to have revelation of there being a further stage. In Revelation 21-22, the new heavens and new earth are the eternal state of the universe, one stage further on from that of the Millennium. To Isaiah, the millennial state and the eternal state are blurred into one.

Regarding the destruction and replacement of the heavens and earth (Isaiah 24, Psalm 102:26, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 21:1), verse 22 here might support the view that the earth is refined through fire and reused, rather than it being destroyed and replaced. If it is reused, then there is continuity. Verse 23 describes all the nations streaming to Jerusalem to worship God. Outside of Jerusalem, verse 24 describes the burning corpses of those who have been thrown without burial on the burning rubbish heap, a sight that will be visible and abhorrent to all who visit Jerusalem. Jesus quotes this verse as a vision of hell in Mark 9:48. In Revelation 19:20-21, after the battle of Armageddon, the beast (Antichrist's empire) and the false prophet (the Antichrist) are thrown into the lake of fire.
Places: Israel, Jerusalem, Zion, Tarshish, Pul, Put, Lybia, Lud, Lydia, Tubal, Javan, Turkey, Coastlands
Symbols: Throne of God, Temple as a footstool of heavenly throne, Israel giving birth to sons, Israel in labor, Labor pains, Liberated Israel as sons, God as a mother to Israel, Hell as a burning rubbish heap, Sword of Jesus
Tags: Throne of God, Armageddon, Jesus fights his enemies, Jesus uses fire, Weapons of Jesus, Israel reborn as a nation, Restoration of Israel, End-time temple, Millennium, Millennial evangelism, Nations come to know God through his deliverance of Israel, Nations stream to millennial Jerusalem, Persecution of Christians, Glory of Jesus seen by all nations, Nations judged, Israel judged and restored, Idol worshippers humiliated
1 This is what the Lord says: “The heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you will build for me? Where is the place where I will rest?
2 My hand made them; that is how they came to be,” says the Lord. I show special favor to the humble and contrite, who respect what I have to say.
3 The one who slaughters a bull also strikes down a man; the one who sacrifices a lamb also breaks a dog’s neck; the one who presents an offering includes pig’s blood with it; the one who offers incense also praises an idol. They have decided to behave this way; they enjoy these disgusting practices.
4 So I will choose severe punishment for them; I will bring on them what they dread, because I called, and no one responded, I spoke and they did not listen. They did evil before me; they chose to do what displeases me.”
5 Listen to the Lord’s message, you who respect his word! Your countrymen, who hate you and exclude you, supposedly for the sake of my name, say, “May the Lord be glorified, then we will witness your joy.” But they will be put to shame.
6 The sound of battle comes from the city; the sound comes from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord paying back his enemies.
7 Before she goes into labor, she gives birth! Before her contractions begin, she delivers a boy!
8 Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen this? Can a country be brought forth in one day? Can a nation be born in a single moment? Yet as soon as Zion goes into labor she gives birth to sons!
9 “Do I bring a baby to the birth opening and then not deliver it?” asks the Lord. “Or do I bring a baby to the point of delivery and then hold it back?” asks your God.
10 Be happy for Jerusalem and rejoice with her, all you who love her!Share in her great joy, all you who have mourned over her!
11 For you will nurse from her satisfying breasts and be nourished; you will feed with joy from her milk-filled breasts.
12 For this is what the Lord says: “Look, I am ready to extend to her prosperity that will flow like a river, the riches of nations will flow into her like a stream that floods its banks. You will nurse from her breast and be carried at her side; you will play on her knees.
13 As a mother consoles a child, so I will console you, and you will be consoled over Jerusalem.”
14 When you see this, you will be happy, and you will be revived. The Lord will reveal his power to his servants and his anger to his enemies.
15 For look, the Lord comes with fire, his chariots come like a windstorm, to reveal his raging anger, his battle cry, and his flaming arrows.
16 For the Lord judges all humanity with fire and his sword; the Lord will kill many.
17 “As for those who consecrate and ritually purify themselves so they can follow their leader and worship in the sacred orchards, those who eat the flesh of pigs and other disgusting creatures, like mice – they will all be destroyed together,” says the Lord.
18 “I hate their deeds and thoughts! So I am coming to gather all the nations and ethnic groups; they will come and witness my splendor.
19 I will perform a mighty act among them and then send some of those who remain to the nations – to Tarshish, Pul, Lud (known for its archers ), Tubal, Javan, and to the distant coastlands that have not heard about me or seen my splendor. They will tell the nations of my splendor.
20 They will bring back all your countrymen from all the nations as an offering to the Lord. They will bring them on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, and on camels to my holy hill Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring offerings to the Lord’s temple in ritually pure containers.
21 And I will choose some of them as priests and Levites,” says the Lord.
22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before me,” says the Lord, “so your descendants and your name will remain.
23 From one month to the next and from one Sabbath to the next, all people will come to worship me,” says the Lord.
24 “They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against me, for the maggots that eat them will not die, and the fire that consumes them will not die out. All people will find the sight abhorrent.”