A Reflection of Heaven
Fulfilled! Isaiah 66: A Preterist Commentary: Summary and Highlights
In Isaiah 66, Isaiah predicts that Israel will experience great peace and prosperity after a tragic war. I believe these prophecies were fulfilled when in Iyyar of A.D. 66, Israel revolted against Rome. At that time “chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities [emphasis mine].”1 Sepher Yosippon elaborates upon this event by saying, “Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire.”2 This fiery angelic army with chariots of fire seems to LITERALLY fulfill Isaiah 66:15: “See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind.”
Israel lost the war and much of the province was burned as a consequence of Rome’s scorched earth policy. However, after the Jewish War and the subsequent Bar Kokhba Rebellion, Jerusalem grew to become an almost exclusively Christian city which enjoyed a level of peace seemingly unrivaled in its recorded history.3 Having enjoyed great peace and prosperity during the thousand years between the Jewish War and the Crusades, Israel became an earthly reflection of heaven. For a detailed explanation of the complete fulfillment of this chapter see the following Preterist commentary on Isaiah 66.
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
A Reflection of Heaven
1This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. 3 But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol.4 They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; 4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” 5 Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word: “Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame. 6 Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord repaying his enemies all they deserve.
A Realized Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary of Isaiah 66: Isaiah 66 seems to have been Fulfilled Typologically in Judah’s War with Babylon in the Sixth Century B.C. However, this Commentary will Just Discuss the Ultimate Fulfillment of these Verses at the End of the Age.
The final chapters of Isaiah, including Isaiah 66, seem to have initially been fulfilled typologically in Judah’s war with Babylon in the sixth century B.C. and its aftermath including the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon under Cyrus the Persian and the subsequent rebuilding of Jerusalem after the war sanctioned by the decree of Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. In the following commentary, we shall just discuss the ultimate fulfillment of these verses at the end of the age.
A Fulfilled Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary of Isaiah 66:5: “Your own People who Hate you, and Exclude you [from the Synagogue] because of My Name . . .”
During Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law plotted to kill Jesus. At this time, they decided that “anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.” (John 9:22) After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the persecution of the early church continued resulting in the deaths of many of the disciples.
A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Isaiah 66:6: “Hear that Uproar from the City, Hear that Noise from the Temple! It is the Sound of the Lord repaying His Enemies all they Deserve.”
These crimes against the kingdom of God did not go unpunished. The enemies of God and His people were put to shame. In A.D. 66 the Romans attacked Israel. During the siege of Jerusalem, many of the Jewish rebels sought refuge in the temple fortress. However, the Romans soon broke through the fortifications causing a prodigious slaughter. This massacre is the vengeance foreseen in v. 6: “Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve.”
After the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem, over a million Jews were killed and 97,000 were taken captive. These prisoners of war were shamed wherever they were sent in the Roman world: some were shamefully paraded through the streets of Rome during the Triumph, some were sold as slaves, some were killed in Roman amphitheaters, and all experienced intense Anti-Semitism as a consequence of the war. Vespasian even minted coins depicting crestfallen Jewish slaves in commemoration of his military victory. Yet despite all the persecution the Pharisees faced after the destruction of the second Temple in A.D. 70, they intensified their efforts to ban Christian Jews from participating in religious services solidifying the schism between Christianity and Judaism.
7 “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. 8 Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. 9 Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. 10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. 11 For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” 12 For this is what the Lord says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. 13 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” 14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.
Preterism Explained and Interpreted, A Commentary of Isaiah 66: The Destruction of Jerusalem . . .
As stated above, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70 leaving only the western wall and a few towers intact. Concerning the devastation of the city, Josephus writes,
[T]here was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.”5 Concerning the lamentation at the burning of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem, Josephus states that the city “broke out into groans and outcries again: Perea did also return the echo, as well as the mountains round about [the city], and augmented the force of the entire noise.6
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:7-14: The Unprecedented Peace and Great Prosperity of Christian Jerusalem . . .
Despite the destruction of this great city, vs. 10-14 offer hope to those who mourn. After the conquest of Jerusalem, the Jewish Christian refugees who had fled to Pella returned to help repopulate Israel. After the Jewish War and the Bar Kokhba Rebellion, in the early second century, Jerusalem experienced peace to a degree unrivalled throughout its history recorded in the Bible. Then by the end of the fourth century Jerusalem, then called Aelia Capitoline, became an exclusively Christian city.7 During the thousand years between the Jewish War and the Crusades, Judea enjoyed great peace and prosperity in fulfillment of v. 12: “For this is what the Lord says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.”8 Jerusalem under Christian demographic control was exceedingly rich and prosperous. Churches in Jerusalem were often supported by wealthy pilgrims who donated lands in Europe which provided these churches and monasteries with generous income.9
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For with fire and with his sword the Lord will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the Lord.
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:15: The Chariots of the Lord in v. 15 were seen at the Start of the Jewish War with Rome.
In v. 15 Isaiah sees God coming in judgment with chariots and fire. The Jewish revolt of A.D. 66 began with a heavenly specter: “for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities [emphasis mine].”10 These chariots in the sky over Israel before the Jewish War is the manifestation of God coming on the clouds with the heavenly host in judgment as is foretold in v. 15.11 This presage immediately preceded the Jewish war with Rome.
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:15: Isaiah 66:15 says that the Lord was to come with Chariots and Fire. Yosippon says that the Angelic Army in the Sky of A.D. 66 were Chariots and Soldiers of Fire.
The medieval Jewish historian Sepher Yosippon expounds upon this angelic army in the sky of A.D. 66 by saying, “Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire [emphasis mine].”12 In Yosippon’s account of the chariots of fire one can see how Isaiah 66:15 was explicitly and literally fulfilled: “See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire [emphasis mine].” 2 Thessalonians 1:7 echoes this prophecy: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels [emphasis mine].”
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:15: Yosippon’s Description of the Angelic Army of Fire in the Sky in A.D. 66 EXACTLY Mirrors the Army of Angels of Fire described in 2 Kings 6:17.
The parallels between Josephus’ and Yosippon’s accounts of the army in the sky of A.D. 66 and Revelation 19 are striking. This striking similarity suggests that this event was the first appearance of Christ during His second coming or parousia. See Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66.
A Realized Eschatological View and Commentary of Isaiah 66:15: Isaiah 66:15 was also Fulfilled in the Glory Cloud.
Though the imagery in Isaiah 66:15-16 was explicitly and literally fulfilled in the initial aspect of the second coming in A.D. 66, these two verses were also fulfilled quite literally in the subsequent appearances of Christ in A.D. 68 and A.D. 70 when Christ came on the clouds of heaven in the midst of the Glory Cloud referenced in these verses. See The Appearance of Christ in A.D. 68? and The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70–Like You’ve Never Heard it Before!
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:16: “With Fire and with His Sword the Lord will Execute Judgment . . .”
That having been said, let us now turn our attention to v. 16 and how God used fire to execute His judgments on His enemies. This fire was literal. God used the Roman Army to destroy Israel by fire during the Jewish War of A.D. 66-74. During this war, the Roman army marched through Israel destroying city after city and setting fire to anything that might be used against them. As a result, Josephus mentions the fact that many of the cities of Israel along with much of the surrounding countryside was set on fire as part of Rome’s scorched-earth policy.13
17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the one they follow,” declares the Lord. 18 “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory. 19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyansand Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord. 22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord.
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:19: The Disciples that Survived the Persecution in Jerusalem went all over the World to Proclaim the Gospel in Fulfillment of v. 19.
Verse 19 states, “I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.” I believe the survivors sent to the nations are the disciples and first century Christians who survived the persecution in Jerusalem after Jesus death and the subsequent Jewish War, having fled to Pella at the beginning of the Jewish War.14 Speaking of this persecution, the church historian Eusebius writes:
First they [the Jews] stoned Stephen to death; then James the son of Zebedee and the brother of John was beheaded; and finally James, the first after our Saviour’s Ascension to be raised to the bishop’s throne there, lost his life in the way described, while the remaining apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea.15
The apostles who had been driven out of Judea ended up preaching the gospel all over the Gentile world. According to church tradition, Peter and Paul were killed in Rome. Matthew was killed in Ethiopia. Mark was martyred in Alexandria. Luke was hanged in Greece. Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India, and Barnabas was stoned to death in Salonica.16
Preterism and Isaiah 66:20: “And They will bring all Your People, from all the Nations, to My Holy Mountain in Jerusalem . . .”
As a consequence of their testimony, Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Gentile world. Then during the 1000 years after the Jewish War, there was a dramatic shift in demographics in Judea. Once populated almost exclusively by ethnic Jews, Judea was 95% Christian by A.D. 614.17
24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
A Preterist Commentary on Isaiah 66:24: Engulfed in Unquenchable Fire, Jerusalem at its Destruction was an Earthly Reflection of Hell.
The fire from the Lord mentioned in vs. 15-16 is shown here as unquenchable fire burning Jerusalem and Israel. Unquenchable fire is any fire that becomes so large and hot that it cannot be extinguished until it has burned itself out. A similar example of unquenchable fire is found in Jeremiah 17:27. In this verse, God threatens to burn Jerusalem with unquenchable fire as punishment for the disobedience of its people. This threat was fulfilled in 2 Kings 25:8-9 when the Babylonian army conquered and set fire to the city. Though the fire of v. 24 is also fulfilled in this event, this verse is a type that ultimately points to the war with Rome. In A.D. 70, Titus and his army also set fire to the city of Jerusalem. With the city again ablaze in unquenchable fire, Jerusalem once again became an earthly reflection of hell in the same way that post-exilic and post-war Jerusalem is depicted as an earthly shadow or dark reflection of heaven in Isaiah 60 and Isaiah 65.18
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
Fulfilled! Isaiah 66: A Preterist Commentary: Conclusion
As indicated in the above Preterist commentary on Isaiah 66, all the predictions in this chapter seem to accurately describe events leading up to and including Israel’s war with Rome and its aftermath.
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
- Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014).
- Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries (New York: Random House, 1968), 149.
- In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus says that the Law will be fulfilled at the destruction of heaven and earth. The destruction of heaven and earth is often understood to mean that God is going to destroy the whole world and rebuild a perfect one in its place, this not necessarily the case. See The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained! As is discussed in Revelation 21 A Preterist Commentary, true bliss is reserved for heaven–the afterlife. The New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 bears a striking resemblance to the cities of light commonly described in many near death experiences. Many people who have survived clinical death later describe seeing a city of inexplicable beauty.
The ultimate sign of the fulfillment of the Law is signified by the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. With the Temple destroyed, it became impossible to practice the entirety of the Law of Moses. And according to James 2:10, “[W]hoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Perhaps the lawbreakers of Isaiah 66:3 are those who continued to follow the Law after its fulfillment?
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 7.1.1.
- Ibid., 6.5.1.
- Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries (New York: Random House, 1968), 149.
- This peace was interrupted by the Sassanid invasion and occasional bouts of Roman persecution until Emperor Constantine granted religious liberty in A.D. 313. Then in A.D. 614 thousands of Christians were killed when Persia besieged Jerusalem. Then in A.D. 638, Moslems took over political control of the city and Christians prospered under Moslem rule until the crusades.
- Nick Ford, Jerusalem Under Muslim Rule in the Eleventh Century: Christian Pilgrims Under Islamic Government, first ed. (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2004), 50.
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
- This is also the second coming of Christ. See the commentary on Revelation 19:11-16.
- Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014)
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 3.4.1; 4.8.3; 4.9.7; 6.1.1.
- Eusebius The History of the Church 3.5.
- Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998), 337-339. Though early church tradition may not be fully reliable on every detail, it is a seemingly universal belief among early Christian writers that most of the apostles were martyred all over the world.
- Thomas A. Idinopulas, Jerusalem Blessed, Jerusalem Cursed: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Holy City from David’s Time to Our Own (Chicago: Ivan R. Deer, 1991), 102.
- The fact that the people of Israel had been made “loathsome to all mankind” is discussed in the commentary on vs. 1-6 above.