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Isaiah 66:1, 2 says,
1 Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
The prophet was contemplating the glory of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps the prophet had been reading the words of Solomon himself when he dedicated the temple. He said in 1 Kings 8:27,
27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built?”
Perhaps also the prophet was contemplating the purpose of the temple, which was to provide a resting place for God.
God Seeks Rest
We read in Numbers 10:33,
33 Thus they set out from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey with the ark of the covenant of the Lord journeying in front of them for the three days, to seek out a resting place for them.
To Moses, the wilderness was not the place of rest. Rest signifies the end of the journey or the completion of labor. But every time the ark was moved to a new camp, it signified a time of spiritual warfare, as we read in Numbers 10:35,
35 Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, “Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.”
Even when Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, the warfare continued, for it was only a type and shadow of greater things to come. So we read in Hebrews 4:8-10,
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
To Solomon, it was obvious that the temple, though glorious, could not fulfill the expectations of God. In fact, the wars continued even after the temple had been built, showing that more labor was required. Although the ark remained in the temple, it was still moving, so to speak. The conquests of the Kingdom had not yet been completed, for there were still “enemies” to be scattered—and ultimately, reconciled.
Isaiah understood these things, for God had told him essentially that physical temples could not contain His glory. God was not satisfied in houses that were made of wood and stone—things which God Himself had made.
A Greater Temple
Yet the prophet was given greater revelation, for God told him of a greater house, saying, “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” In other words, God’s house was to be people themselves, humble people, those who would take His word seriously.
This was first pictured on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came down upon the 120 in the upper room (Acts 2:1-3). This event was comparable to the day that the glory of God filled Solomon’s temple, after 120 priests came into one accord (harmony) with the singers (2 Chronicles 5:12, 13). The main difference was that whereas the glory first filled Solomon’s temple, the glory of God’s presence at Pentecost filled the people.
This, then, is how we are to interpret the prophecy given to Isaiah, who foresaw a better temple that would satisfy God’s expectations. Though man—like wood and stone—was part of God’s creation, man was the highest form of that creation and the only temple where God might rest.
The word of the Lord said to Isaiah, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.” Many misunderstand this, thinking that a footstool was something to be despised. But just because a footstool is not a throne does not mean it lacks purpose and even glory. A footstool is a place where one rests his feet after a hard day’s work. It is a very useful piece of furniture.
Jesus Himself commanded us to respect God’s footstool, saying in Matthew 5:34, 35,
34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet…
When Stephen gave his final sermon just before he was martyred, he quoted from Isaiah, saying in Acts 7:47-49,
47 But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. 48 However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says, 49 “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is the footstool of My feet…”
A footstool, then, is for the feet, and this shows that God intends to rest His feet on the earth. This implies the coming of Christ to walk the earth and “subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). When the ark moves, Christ conquers more territory from those who hate Him. But ultimately, when all enemies have been reconciled, the earth will be able to fulfill its footstool calling. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28,
25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet… 28 … that God may be all in all.
When God is “all in all,” and all creation is in harmony and agreement with God, and when there are no more enemies to subdue, then the presence of God will indwell all mankind, and God will sit upon His throne and rest His feet upon the earth. The earth will not be abolished or destroyed. It will accomplish its purpose, which is to be God’s footstool for His feet.
That is how the story of earth ends.