The reading this next Shabbat is from the Torah portion (Parashat) Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1 – 24:18, from the prophets: Isaiah 66:1-24, the Gospels: Matthew 26:20-30. Reading the biblical text in a systematic way every week is the only way to infuse our life with God’s word and get to know and understand God better.
The Torah Portion follows the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the presentation of the Ten Commandments that were heard by all the people gathered under the mountain, and each nation or tribe that had joined together with Israel in this Exodus from Egypt heard God speak in their own language. These tribes and people are the so-called mixed multitude mentioned in Exodus 12:38:
“A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.” – Exodus 12:38 [NKJV]
The Torah portion Mishpatim (“judgments”), is an explanation of the Ten Commandments. The laws that deal with social justice, how to behave toward and treat Hebrew slaves, and non-Hebrew slaves, along with laws regarding damages (torts), laws with regard to a child that is disobedient to a father or his mother, and laws of bodily injury to a third party that is not a part of a conflict.
All these laws that are so important even today, were already given by God to the children of Israel around the 13th century BCE. There are some very important and interesting laws here that need to be understood and explained, but this Shabbat we will focus on the reading from the prophets, the Haftarah. (That is, the Hebrew name for the reading from the prophets after the reading from the Torah. Haftarah is an Aramaic word meaning “after,” dessert if you wish.)
The reading this week is from the last chapter of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 66:1-24. Before I get into the highlights of this portion of the reading from Isaiah 66, I would like to go back to Isaiah chapter 60 and follow the developments that build up to chapter 66.
The prophet Isaiah is making a case starting in chapter 60. It starts with predictions and promises that God, through history will bring Israel to the fulfillment of the promises that He made to Abraham our father.
During the time of Isaiah, Israel is a small country contending with big problems from inside and the exile of the elite class to the nation of Babylon, and the return from exile, and is surrounded by enemies on all sides. Suddenly Isaiah prophecies:
“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” – Isaiah 60:1-3 [NKJV]
There is a change in the promises of God toward this nation that cover far more than half of the book of Isaiah in which they are condemned and criticized for failing to fulfill the destiny that God had designed for them.
Then here, suddenly appear great promises of blessings, the nations (the Gentiles) will come and help Israel return home. These wonderful promises are part of what we are actually living right now.
Evangelical Christians are standing up for Israel, supporting Israel both politically and financially, and supporting many projects that involve Aliyah (the return of the Jewish people from exile back to the land given by God to Abraham and his seed as an everlasting inheritance).
Isaiah Chapter 61 is the chapter that Yeshua is reading from in the synagogue in Nazareth, probably on His birthday. Isaiah chapter 61 proclaiming freedom and release from the burden and a proclamation of the jubilee year:
“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:2,3 [NKJV]
The last chapters of Isaiah have cosmic implications that have a direct connection with what is happening in Israel and with regard to Israel as it relates to the End Time, and future world developments that will change not only Israel, but also the nations and their relationship to the almighty God and creator of our galaxy.
Here is just one of the examples of the cosmic changes to our solar system:
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. Also, your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.” – Isaiah 60:19-21 [NKJV]
Isaiah chapter 62 is an invitation for the nations of the world who know the Lord to participate and partner with Israel and the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel and Jerusalem in the process of rebuilding and comforting and consoling and preparing for the vindication of Jerusalem and Israel for the years of neglect and unrepented sins:
“For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name.” – Isaiah 62:1,2 [NKJV]
The Apostle Paul in Romans 11:25,26, promises that with the fullness of the time of the Gentiles, all Israel will be saved.
Isaiah chapter 66 is the final road map of the last days of history: Jerusalem is the mother of the nations and becomes the comfort of all the nations.
“‘Rejoice with Jerusalem, and rejoice with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’ When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants, And His indignation to His enemies. For behold, the Lord will come with fire And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire.” – Isaiah 66:10-15 [NKJV]
In general, most Christians have ignored these texts from the end of Isaiah. However, these words of God are for us and with us, and so much good and encouragement is found and treasured in these words of God.
It is not by accident that Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61:1-3 at the synagogue in Nazareth, the same text that applies to Yeshua as the fulfillment of these very words of Isaiah. The wonderful thing about the end of Isaiah is the full equality between the Israelites and the Gentiles in that promised New Jerusalem.
I would like to encourage you to read these verses at the end of Isaiah and to think about them and imagine that these promises of God are our future, the future of the whole world. I don’t know how, and don’t know when, but I know for sure that every detail promised by God will become a true and historical reality.
I am encouraged by these words of God at the end of Isaiah. I hope that after you read them all for yourselves, from Chapter 60 to 66, you too will be filled with both hope and encouragement and also with many questions that will motivate you to increase your faith and dedication toward our Lord!
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.