The Evangelical Universalist Forum

JRP's Exegetical Compilation: Isaiah 66:24

This post is part of my Exegetical Compilation project, which I’m sloooooowwwwwwlly posting up, and which can be found here.

Isaiah 66:24 is the famous verse (the final verse of Isaiah) appealed to so often by non-universalists, where the righteous shall go out after the coming of YHWH to look on the corpses of the people who have rebelled against YHWH, who (or whose bodies) shall be an abhorrence to the righteous. The same verses (and their immediate contexts) also strongly emphasize that all flesh shall come to bow down before YHWH, and that the unrighteous (or the bodies of the unrighteous) shall be abhorrent to all flesh. This would seem contradictory if eternal conscious torment is true, so annihilationists especially like to appeal to this as evidence of the cessation of existence of the wicked leaving “all flesh” to continue existing after them. But “their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched”, seems to indicate that results will continue to be abhorrent to the righteous, and so also that the worm and the fire are continuing instead of ending; so ECT proponents make hay out of that. Annihilationists reply that the maggots and fire keep going until the task is accomplished and then go out, but that is not what the scriptures say here, and doesn’t seem to explain the continuing abhorrence to the righteous. If it’s annihilation, the description indicates a slow one.

Some of the tension can be resolved by noting that this scene contextually occurs after the coming of YHWH to rescue besieged Jerusalem from her final enemies (Ezekiel 39:4-12), and so occurs before the general resurrection. However, the same rare word for “abhorrence” or “revulsion” is only used once more in the OT by Daniel 12:2, which talks about the resurrection of the evil and the good, some to olam (or in Greek eonian) life and the others to disgrace and olam (eonian) revulsion. But then what about the strongly stated “all flesh” from Isaiah?! Perhaps it means that even the wicked shall bow down to YHWH but shall be repulsed, along with the righteous, by their own bodies eaten by undying maggots and unquenchable fire? That wouldn’t seem to be much of a heaven for the righteous! – nor are things improved at all if only the righteous continue to be repulsed by the remains of the annihilated unrighteous!

This leaves over rather a riddle, which Christ solves in appealing to this verse in His warning before Mark 9:49-50: the fire (He explains in vv.49-50) is for salting, and for salting everyone, and the salting is the best of things and leads to peace with one another. (Also, prior revelations in Isaiah indicate all sinners shall eventually be saved, even though some must first be punished.)

The vision of the final verse of Isaiah, then, would be literally of the situation at the beginning of the millennial reign (when survivors at Jerusalem are required to go out to care for the dead bodies of the rebels despite their own revulsion, committing them to the natural flames and maggots of the nearby valley of Hinnom), combined perhaps with the situation after the lake of fire judgment (when the righteous of the New Jerusalem, despite their revulsion, go out to evangelize the impenitent sinners): the end result being indeed that all flesh shall bow down in spirit and in truth to worship YHWH, and shall reject in revulsion their prior sins.

This fits immediately preceding verses of Is 66 where all nations and languages will see the glory of God, and all peoples to the remotest part of the earth will see God’s salvation, which is exactly why all will come to worship YHWH.

(In any case the destruction of Jerusalem by pagan armies, whether in Isaiah’s day or afterward down to the year 70 of the Christian Era, definitely doesn’t fit the description of God arriving to save Jerusalem from pagan siege by killing the pagans!)

Members are invited to post further or alternate interpretations and observations on these verses below, including links to threads elsewhere. ECT, Annis, and Kaths talk a lot about this verse, and we’ve discussed it here on the forum a lot already (and most likely will again), so it’s perfectly okay to add links below to previous or future discussions.

If you find my compilations helpful, feel free to tip me $5 here at Amazon, near or at the top of the list. You can tip me for multiple articles of course. (I get $2.50 of each single $5 tip.)

The following is from another website forum discussion.

(1) First of all, Isa.66:22-24 makes no mention of what has become of the souls of the “corpses” referred to:

23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

(2) Secondly, nothing in verses 22-24 says verses 23 & 24 refer to the lake of fire or the new earth. Consider Option A at the following re a premillennial take on Isa.65 & 66: … ion-part-3

(3) I wonder how “corpses” (v.24) would survive in a lake of fire. Or worms (v.24) . OTOH worms could survive in a millennial eon garbage dump called Gehenna. As could “corpses” survive that were in parts of the garbage dump that were not completely consumed by fire.

(4) If it were the new earth, why does verse 23 refer to new moons and the sabbath?

“The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Isa.60:19)

Rev.21:22 But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need for sun or moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 By its light the nations will walk, and into it the kings of the earth will bring their glory.

(5) Even if the reference is to the new earth, if there are still “corpses” of the dead in the lake of fire, how is it that death has already been abolished (1 Cor.15:22-28)?

“Just as surely as the abolition of slavery entails freedom for those formerly enslaved, the abolition of death entails life for those formerly dead.”

(6) For an interesting take on our passage, there is this alleged view:

“It is interesting that many of these comments touch on the concept that is well-articulated by C.S. Lewis’ mentor, George McDonald, in his sermon, “The Consuming Fire.” The concept is that God himself is the consuming fire and he will burn away all our iniquities, including those of Satan, who will emerge from the experience as the purified Lucifer, as he was created to be. This is what is pictured in Isaiah 66:24 where all beings will look upon their old selves as carcasses burning in God’s eternally consuming fire. To understand this picture one must realize that the perspective is that of a totally redeemed eternal being looking back on his or her past life and sensing some regret for their own sins.” … devil.html

  1. In any case, when death is abolished (1 Cor.15:22-28) & all are made new (Rev.21:5, 5:13), the dead in the second death (lake of fire) will rise back to life “in Christ” & God will be “all in all” (1 Cor.15:22,28). IOW there will be universal salvation of every person that has ever lived since Adam was created.

For another, & long, discussion on Isaiah 66, there is this one from 2011:


…um, maybe you should explain who you’re quoting? (It sure isn’t me!)

Done. :smiley:

To me this chapter seems to be talking about the fall of nations, just like Malachi 4. Throughout the chapter, The LORD is referencing nations and not individuals.

Verse 19 states “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”

These are things that have already happened. And now 5 verses later we’ve fast-forwarding thousands of years into the Day of Judgement? Seems unlikely to me. I think “new heavens and the new earth” speaks of a new holy state, not literally a new globe.

Notice also in Isaiah 66:22 The LORD says “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.”

Jesus said that there would be no marriage in the Heaven above (Matthew 22:30), so there is probably no child-bearing. So why, then, is The LORD saying here that “your seed” will remain? That seems to imply procreation to me, and therefore can’t be referencing the new age of the Heaven above.