Do we ever TREMBLE at the WORD OF GOD? Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the Lord. "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:1-2)
The opening words of the last chapter of Isaiah were written to the unrepentant people of Israel. They should not think that, in that condition, they can please God by building a temple for Him. This passage points to the magnitude and immensity of God, who is greater than the heavens. Heaven is His throne and earth is His footstool. He is not limited to any house (temple) made by man. The apostle John tells us that in eternity there is no need for a temple, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Rev. 21:22). The Lord has no need for a man-made temple because heaven and earth—the whole cosmos—is His sanctuary (Isaiah 40:22). The resting place for the “feet” of the Lord extends beyond the Ark of the Covenant (Isaiah 60:13) to the whole earth.
In this passage, God underlines the kind of worship He wants. Any religious act without a truly contrite spirit is an abomination to Him. God hates empty religious expressions as much as paganism (Jer. 7:21–23). Every religious ritual that we participate not accompanied with reverence, justice, and sincerity is despised by God. God is seeking ‘true worshipers’ who will worship Him in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
To “tremble at God’s word” (Isa. 66:2, 5) means to respect what God says and fear to disobey it (Ps. 119:120). The Jews experienced this trembling when Ezra exposed their sins (Ezra 9:4; 10:3), and the prophet Habakkuk experienced it when he saw the vision of God’s judgment (Hab. 3:16). Saul of Tarsus trembled when he met the Lord near Damascus (Acts 9:6). However, King Jehoiakim did not tremble at the Word; he tried to destroy it (Jer. 36), and that led to his destruction (Prov. 13:13). Paul has urged us to, “work out our own salvation [Christian life] with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
God desires to dwell in us who are of a poor and contrite spirit. Prophet Isaiah foresees the New Testament doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the temple of our bodies: "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Cor 6:19).
Let us be humble and contrite as we tremble at His Word and serve Him with reverence and godly fear! "…Let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb 12:28-29)