Conclusion: Devotional 2.102

The New Dispensation

22 For as the new heaven and the new earth, which I make, remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name continue. (LXE, Septuagint in English, Brenton Americanized)

God declares in Septuagint Isaiah 66:22a that the new heavens and new earth “remain” before him. The word which the Greek Septuagint text uses is “menei, μένει”. The tense is indicative present, which demonstrates continuous action. This word, which various New Testament versions translate as “abide,” appears to be one of the Apostle John’s favorite words. He uses it in his gospel and letters several times. See, for example, 1 John 4:16 ESV in which it appears three times (including once as a participle).

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (ESV)

For those who “abide” in God, “the new heaven and the new earth” which God makes differ spectacularly from the old. The new order includes an open heaven rejoined to earth by God’s Spirit (see Devotional 2.101). The Servant’s incarnation, death, victorious resurrection, ascension, and sending of his Spirit accomplish these changes. These changes are eternal. The Old Testament is complete; humankind now lives in the New.

Eternal Changes

In the same way that the new heaven and new earth abide before God, Septuagint Isaiah 66:22b announces an eternal worship of God. The descendants of God’s believing Old Testament remnant continue to “stand” before him. Old Testament Israel’s destiny is thereby fulfilled. Abraham produces a singular Seed. He is God’s Servant, his Son (see Septuagint Isaiah 52:13-53:12; 7:14). God by grace also preserves a remnant of national Israel. This “seed” (plural) remain faithful to God (Septuagint Isaiah 4:2,3; 10:20-22; 28:5; 37:32; and 46:3-4) throughout the Old Testament and into the New. This faithful remnant believes and obeys all God’s words, including those of Isaiah 53.

When the Servant appears, the believing remnant recognize him and receive him gladly. For example, there are Mary in Luke 1:38, Elizabeth in Luke 1:41-45, her husband Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79, Anna in Luke 2:37-38, the eleven faithful disciples in the four gospels, the three thousand Israelites who believed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:41, Luke the gospel writer, Saul the Pharisee in Acts 23:6, who became Paul the Apostle, referenced in Acts 9:17-20 and Acts 13:9, and nameless others.

God’s faithful remnant of Israel go out and preach the good news of God’s Servant Jesus Christ to Israelite and Gentile alike. The new heaven and new earth begin. Spiritual Jerusalem, God’s people, (Galatians 4:26-27) explodes overnight. They begin to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 66:22b. That prophecy continues to be fulfilled today, as it splashes over into verse 23.

23 And it shall come to pass from month to month, and from sabbath to sabbath, that all flesh shall come to worship before me in Jerusalem, says the Lord. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:23)

The seed of those first believers continues to gather together before the Lord to worship him Sunday by Sunday, holy day by holy day (Christmas, Easter), and communion by communion. These worshipers do indeed constitute “all flesh,” both Israelite and Gentile believers joined in the peace of God’s Servant (Ephesians 2:14).

The Last Verse

God has and always will have the last word concerning his creation.

24 And they shall go forth, and see the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh. (LXE)
Septuagint Isaiah 66:24 states, “And they shall go forth… “. Who are “they”? The subject “they” refers to the worshipers of verses 22 and 23. These in turn are the children, both Israelite and Gentile, of the woman, Sion, who travailed and brought forth a nation in one day (Isaiah 66:7-8). She is the “barren woman” of Septuagint Isaiah 54:1.
In this final verse, Isaiah returns to his theme of two peoples, two choices, and two outcomes. On the one hand, he presents the remnant of Israel with her Gentile children. These faithful worshipers exercise freedom to come and go before God. On the other hand, Isaiah describes those who transgress against God. Again, as with the faithful group, ethnicity bears no importance. Isaiah specifies none. Readers can interpret these transgressors as having come from the whole world. These are dead people. See Isaiah’s use of the word “carcasses,” or corpses.
The “worm”, or maggots, that eat these dead remains will never die. Nor shall the fire that burns to consume them. Forever and ever, these rotting remains will persist as a grim reminder to the faithful that the trials and tribulations they endured, as they remained faithful to their God and his Servant, were well worth the cost.

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