By Christina M Wilson
Jesus and Isaiah
The teachings of both Jesus and Isaiah have much in common. Septuagint (LXX) Isaiah 66:1-6 finds its fulfillment in Jesus, God’s Servant. New Testament authors confirm Isaiah.
I. No Physical Temple
1 Thus says the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what kind of a house will you build me? and of what kind is to be the place of my rest? 2 For all these things are mine, says the Lord:
God in Isaiah 66:1 states that he does not need nor want a physical dwelling. Stephen repeats Isaiah’s words in Acts 7:49-50, just before the highest legislative body of Israel, the Sanhedrin, chased him out of the city and stoned him for blasphemy (Acts 7:51-60).
Jesus the Servant prophesied that the Second Temple would be destroyed.
Luke 21:5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (ESV)
The Romans did come and destroy both the city of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 CE (AD)
2. A New Kind of Temple
In Isaiah 66:2, God describes where he chooses to dwell (“to whom will I have respect?”).
2… and to whom will I have respect, but to the humble and meek, and the man that trembles at my words? (LXE)
Jesus the Servant indicated a new, spiritual location for those who worship God. He spoke of the Spirit and the great revelation of himself as Messiah to a biblically meek and humble person, a “foreigner,” a “woman,” a “sinner,” popularly known as “the woman at the well.”
John 4:20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (ESV)
The authors of the New Testament letters confirmed a new kind of temple made of people.
Hebrews 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19.)
2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (verse 6 a quotation from Isaiah 28:16)
The high priest of temple worship alone had closest access to God. Paul writes that in Christ, both Gentile and believing Israelite have access to God in his spiritual temple. The author of the letter to the Hebrews states the same.
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
3. Jesus Sought Out the Humble and the Meek
Gospel Scripture presents God’s divine Servant himself as humble and meek.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Son of Man’s favorite people–those he “hung out with”–are likewise the humble and the meek of Isaiah 66:2.
Matthew 9:10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
Jesus and Isaiah agree concerning whom the Lord will bless.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (See Isaiah 66:2, 5)
4. Jesus and the Religious Leaders
John the Baptist heralded the Servant’s arrival among his people. His words echo those of Isaiah 66:3-6.
Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
And, just as God in Isaiah 66:3-5 condemned the insincere, unholy worship offered by many in his day, so Jesus, God’s Servant, condemned the insincere, unholy worship offered by the religious leaders of his own day. Again, the teachings of Jesus and Isaiah have much in common. Hear what Jesus God’s Servant says about the religious elite of his day.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 11:37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness… 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” … 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
Luke 9:22 … “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luk 9:22 ESV)
5. Jesus Displays God’s Wrath in the Temple
Jesus and Isaiah both express the wrath of God from within the temple. As mentioned above, however, God poured out his wrath in a final action, when he permitted the Romans to destroy the temple in 70 CE.
Isaiah 66:6 A voice of a cry from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord rendering recompence to his adversaries. (LXE)
John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Cf. Mark 11:15-17)
6. The Great Missionary Call
God continually forgave and extended himself to his people Israel throughout the Old Testament. He sent judges and prophets to them to represent himself and his point of view. For the most part, Israel rejected God and his ways. A small remnant obeyed. Finally, God sent his Son, the Servant of Isaiah 53. This Servant, Jesus, God’s people killed. This is neither easy to see nor to say.
Isaiah prophesies that those who mocked and abused God (Isaiah 66:3-5) will also mock and abuse his followers. Isaiah calls these adversaries “those who hate you and abominate you” (Septuagint Isaiah 66:5). Yet, Isaiah tells them to imitate God in the love he expresses by continually reaching out to them. He tells them to “speak… to them that hate you and abominate you.”
5 Hear the words of the Lord, you that tremble at his word; speak you, our brethren, to them that hate you and abominate you, that the name of the Lord may be glorified… (Septuagint Isaiah 66:5)
Jesus God’s Servant knew that just as his own people rejected and even killed him, so they would do to his followers, those who “tremble at his word.” Nevertheless, he sent them out as sheep among the wolves. He sent them so that by saving some, as many as were willing, the name of his Father would be glorified.
Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake… 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me… 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Saul of Tarsus hated followers of “the Way.” He hunted them down and killed them. And, just as Jesus prophesied, he did think that he was offering service to God (Acts 7:58; 8:1; Galatians 1:13-14). Nevertheless, a man named Ananias trembled at (revered and obeyed) the word of the Lord (Isaiah 66:5). Following the Lord’s commandment, he went out and did speak to Saul. And great glory to God’s name resulted (Acts 9:11-22).
Galatians 1:23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-6 are not easy verses to read. But then, many of Jesus’s teachings are also difficult to receive. Nevertheless, God’s eternal message of love is the same today as it was in Isaiah’s day. Mercifully, God reveals the final judgment he has in store for those who choose to disregard his claim upon their lives. Such was the case with Old Testament Israel. They fought and fought and fought against God, yet all the while they pretended to obey. Nevertheless, God’s word eventually came to pass. The old dispensation ended. God sealed the pages of the Old Testament and began the New. Isaiah’s commission was to announce the “changing of the guard” (Devotional 2.94).