And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24)
The Final Word Of Isaiah
There is a remarkable resemblance of the book of Isaiah and the division of the Bible as produced by man in the last five hundred years. In the original text, the Old Testament was not divided by chapters and verses and when the New Testament was penned the authors did not divide the text with chapters and verses. It was not until the year 1228 that chapter divisions were introduced to the Bible and the entire Bible was first produced with chapters and verses in the Geneva Bible of 1560. What makes the book of Isaiah remarkable to this division of man is that while the Bible is made up of sixty-six books with thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament, Isaiah’s book contains sixty-six chapters with a natural division of the first thirty-nine chapters warning against the judgment of the Lord with the final twenty-seven chapters showing the hope in the coming Messiah. The ending of Isaiah is much like the Revelation given to John showing the hope and promise of the Lord overcoming and bringing vindication against those who would stand against Him. Concluding his book, Isaiah proclaims the final victory over the rebellious hearts refusing to obey the will of God by those who were righteous and saved of Israel. The figure is very plain and demonstrative. It is not written to show the graphic nature of the destruction although the picture is clearly one of corpses and rotting flesh as would be found in the valley of Hinnom where the filth of the city of Jerusalem would be thrown. This would be an image Jesus used to describe the horrors of eternal hell. The final words of Isaiah were to reassure the righteous that God was in control, what happens to the nation of Israel is by the will of the Lord and regardless of the travesties of life that would fall upon the people; the Lord was faithful to keep His eternal promise of salvation. There is a reality to the final words of Isaiah like there is finality in the final words of John’s revelation. The love and the wrath of God will be evident to everyone as all nations are gathered before the throne of the Lord and judgment is meted out. For many, this judgment will be a terrible eternal fire where the worm does not die. On the other hand, not in a gloating or are manner, the righteous will see the justification of the Lord against evil by experiencing the mercy and love of God in their promise of eternal life.
Israel had been warned about their rebellion to the words of the Lord spoken through the prophets and for the most part, ignored the pleas of God to repent and turn away from their idols. There were many who were righteous who lived among the nation of Israel who was faithful to God. They did not allow the pollution’s of the idolatrous world to change their hearts away from the Lord. Sadly, judgment came to both classes of people as the Assyrians and Babylonians punished the nation of Israel. The righteous suffered along with the unrighteous because they were all taken to captivity but the hope and promise of the righteous helped them endure the cruel conditions of their captives. Isaiah assured the righteous God was aware of their plight and that salvation would be found in eternal life. They would see a day when the unrighteous would be brought to justice for denying the Lord and as victors over the forces of evil, the righteous would look upon the slain bodies of those who did not trust in the Lord and see the judgment of God upon them. The love and wrath of God are demonstrated throughout the book of Isaiah as the warnings to repent are given followed by the hope of the Coming One. In the final message of the Bible, the love and wrath of God are seen warning those who would trifle with His commands and instill hope in the hearts of the faithful to endure to the end.
The final words of Isaiah are representative of the final expression of all humanity. A day will come when the unrighteous will be punished and the righteous exalted. That is the will of the Father. There is no clearer message than seeing the goodness and severity of the Lord evidenced throughout the pages of holy writ. God is full of love and compassion but He is a Lord of judgment that will bring His wrath upon those who do not give Him glory. Isaiah said that man was created for the glory of God and those who call on His name will be saved. The Lord formed man in His image to live in His presence and to abide in His love. It was man who rebelled against the word of God and it was man who refused to repent. Like Israel of old, humanity is filled with a spirit of rebellion. They refuse to follow the words spoken by the prophets, teachers, and guides of His word. The Bible is cast aside as a book of myths that is out of date, out of time and completely useless. This does not change the word of the Lord as centuries of abuse have not changed the Bible. It remains intact as it was when first penned and continues to show all men the saving grace of God. In the final day of man’s existence when the world is destroyed and humanity has come to an end, there will be the witnessing of the righteous victorious over the unrighteous by the power of God. All flesh will come and worship the Lord. What makes a difference is what happens to all those who come before the Lord when the book of life is opened. Blessed are those who keep His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into eternal life. But outside are the bodies of the slain and those who refused to worship the true and living God. Isaiah’s final words are the final words of God.