Isaiah 66:15
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) With his chariots . . .—i.e., the storm-clouds sweeping on their way, while the lightnings and the winds do their work. (Comp. Psalm 18:10; Psalm 68:33)

Isaiah 66:15-16. For, behold, &c. — Here the prophet comes more particularly to show the nature of that indignation which should be exercised toward God’s enemies. The passage, it must be observed, is metaphorical, “exhibiting God as about to take vengeance on the enemies of his church, under the figure of a commander and warrior, as well as of a judge, armed at all points, severely to punish those who have provoked his indignation: see Isaiah 63:1, &c.; Revelation 18:8; and Revelation 14:20. Some suppose that this passage refers to the general judgment; but it is rather, according to the whole tenor of this prophecy, to be referred to the judgments of God upon the rebellious Jews, and upon the antichristian enemies of the church.” The Lord will come with fire — With terrible judgments: an allusion possibly to the fire with which enemies use to consume places brought under their power. And with his chariots — Like the general of a victorious army. With a whirlwind — With a sudden sweeping calamity, that, like a whirlwind, shall destroy all before it. To render his anger with fury — That is, with fervour; for fury, properly taken, is not in God, Isaiah 27:4. But God, at certain times, executes judgment more severely than at others. And his rebukes — By rebukes he means punishments, for it is said God will execute them with flames of fire — They had contemned the rebukes of the law, now God will rebuke them with fire and sword. For by fire, &c., will the Lord plead with all flesh — God at first pleads with sinners by word, but if he cannot so prevail, he will plead with them in a way by which he will overcome; by fire, pestilence, and blood. Thus he threatens to do with all flesh, that is, with all sinners continuing in sin, and especially with the impenitent and unbelieving Jews, who, being favoured with the oracles and ordinances of God, held the truth in unrighteousness, and abused their extraordinary privileges to their greater condemnation: see Romans 2:8-9. And the slain of the Lord shall be many — Those whom God should cause to be slain. This was awfully fulfilled in the destruction brought on the Jews by the Romans for crucifying the Messiah; no fewer than eleven hundred thousand, according to Josephus, perishing in the siege of Jerusalem, and at least three hundred thousand more during the war; not to mention the vast numbers that perished in caves, woods, wildernesses, common sewers, of whom no account could be taken; and the great slaughter made of them afterward in the wars waged against them by Adrian, when fifty of their strongest fortresses were razed, and nine hundred and eighty-five of their noblest towns were sacked, and consumed by fire. See note on Deuteronomy 28:62.66:15-24 A prophetic declaration is given of the Lord's vengeance on all enemies of his church, especially that of all antichristian opposers of the gospel in the latter days. Ver.For behold, the Lord will come with fire - The Septuagint reads this 'As fire' (ὡς πύρ hōs pur). Fire is a common emblem to denote the coming of the Lord to judge and punish his enemies Psalm 50:3 :

Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence;

A fire shall devour before him,

And it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

So Habakkuk 2:5 :

Before him went the pestilence,

And burning coals went forth at his feet.

So Psalm 97:3 :

A fire goeth before him,

And burneth up his enemies round about.

So it is said 2 Thessalonians 1:8, that the Lord Jesus will be revealed 'in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God' (compare Hebrews 10:27; 2 Peter 3:7). So Yahweh is said to breathe out fire when he comes to destroy his foes:

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,

And fire out of his mouth devoured;

Coals were kindled by it.

15. (Isa 9:5; Ps 50:3; Hab 3:5; 2Th 1:8; 2Pe 3:7).

chariots … whirlwind—(Jer 4:13).

render—as the Hebrew elsewhere (Job 9:13; Ps 78:38) means to "allay" or "stay wrath." Maurer translates it so here: He stays His anger with nothing but fury," &c.; nothing short of pouring out all His fiery fury will satisfy His wrath.

fury—"burning heat" [Lowth], to which the parallel, "flames of fire," answers.

Here the prophet comes more particularly to expound what indignation should be showed towards his enemies.

The Lord will come with fire; that is, with terrible judgments, nothing being more terrible and wasting than fire; or with fire in a proper sense, understanding it of the fire with which enemies use to consume places brought under their power. With a whirlwind; with a sudden sweeping judgment that like a whirlwind shall destroy this people.

With fury; that is, with fervour; for fury properly so taken is not in God, Isaiah 27:4, but God sometimes executes justice and judgment more smartly and severely.

His rebukes: by rebukes he means punishments, for it is said God will execute them

with flames of fire. They had contemned the rebukes of his law, now God will rebuke them with fire and sword. For, behold, the Lord will come with fire,.... Either with material fire, with which mystical Babylon or Rome shall be burnt, Revelation 18:8, or with indignation and wrath, which shall be poured out like fire, and be as intolerable and consuming as that:

and with his chariots like a whirlwind; making a great noise, and striking great terror; alluding to chariots in which men used formerly to fight:

to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire; a heap of words, to show the fierceness of his wrath, and how severe his rebuke of enemies will be; which will be not a rebuke in love, as of his own people, but in a way of vindictive wrath.

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to {q} render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

(q) This vengeance God began to execute at the destruction of Babylon and has always continued it against the enemies of his Church, and will do till the last day, which will be the accomplishment of it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. with fire] in fire. Cf. Deuteronomy 5:22 ff.

and his chariots shall be like the whirlwind (R.V.)] Cf. Habakkuk 3:8; Psalm 68:17. The image is derived from the storm-clouds on which Jehovah rides; ch. Isaiah 19:1; Psalm 18:10; Psalm 68:33; Deuteronomy 33:26. The phrase is applied in Jeremiah 4:13 to the Chaldæans (or Scythians).

15, 16. In fire and tempest—the accompaniments of the theophany—Jehovah will appear to take vengeance on His enemies. There is a connexion with the last clause of Isaiah 66:14; but the passage reads like a continuation of Isaiah 66:6. Comp. ch. Isaiah 29:6, Isaiah 30:27 ff.; Psalms 50, 3.Verses 15-18. - THE VENGEANCE WHICH GOD WILL TAKE ON HIS ENEMIES. A signal outpouring of God's vengeance upon his enemies precedes the settlement of the Church in its final glorious condition, both in Isaiah and in the Revelation of St. John (see ch. 34, 35, and Revelation 19-21.). The wicked have to be removed before the righteous can be established in peace. Here the agencies employed against the wicked are "fire" and "sword" - fire pointing (as Delitzsch remarks) to destructive occurrences of nature, and the sword to destructive occurrences of history. God himself is represented as guiding and directing both agencies, to the punishment of the ungodly and the relief of those who trust in him. Verse 15. - Behold, the Lord will come with fire. "Fire" is a usual accompaniment of a "theophany." God descended on Sinai "in fire" (Exodus 19:18), and led the Israelites through the wilderness by the pillar of the cloud and of fire (Exodus 13:21, 22), and filled the tabernacle with a glory as of fire (Exodus 40:34), and "answered David from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering" (1 Chronicles 21:26), and in the same way answered Solomon (2 Chronicles 7:1) and Elijah (1 Kings 18:38). Isaiah almost always describes a theophany as a "coming with fire" (see Isaiah 10:16-18; Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27, 30; Isaiah 33:12, 14, etc.). The agency of fire in the judgment that will overtake the wicked simultaneously with Christ's second coming, appears in 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Peter 3:7-10. With his chariots (comp. Psalm 68:17; Habakkuk 3:8). "Chariots," in the plural, may be regarded as symbolizing the "hosts" of natural and supernatural forces that God has at his command (Cheyne). Like a whirlwind. The whirring of the wheels of chariots, their noise, the swiftness of their pace, and the destruction that they cause, make this simile most appropriate. To render his anger; or, to expend his anger - to vent it. All of these fall victims to the judgment; and yet Zion is not left either childless or without population. "Before she travailed she brought forth; before pains came upon her, she was delivered of a boy. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen anything like it? Are men delivered of a land in one day? or is a nation begotten at once? For Zion hath travailed, yea, hath brought forth her children. Should I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith Jehovah: or should I, who cause to bring forth, shut it? saith thy God." Before Zion travaileth, before any labour pains come upon her (chēbhel with tzere), she has already given birth, or brought with ease into the world a male child (hı̄mlit like millēt, in Isaiah 34:15, to cause to glide out). This boy, of whom she is delivered with such marvellous rapidity, is a whole land full of men, an entire nation. The seer exclaims with amazement, like Zion herself in Isaiah 49:21, "who hath heard such a thing, or seen anything like it? is a land brought to the birth (hăyūchal followed by 'erets for hăthūchal, as in Genesis 13:6; Isaiah 9:18; Ges. 147), i.e., the population of a whole land (as in Judges 18:30), and that in one day, or a nation born all at once (yivvâlēd, with munach attached to the kametz, and metheg to the tzere)? This unheard-of event has taken place now, for Zion has travailed, yea, has also brought forth her children," - not one child, but her children, a whole people that calls her mother.

(Note: There is a certain similarity in the saying, with which a talmudic teacher roused up the sleepy scholars of the Beth ha-Midrash: "There was once a woman, who was delivered of 600,000 children in one day," viz., Jochebed, who, when she gave birth to Moses, brought 600,000 to the light of freedom (Exodus 12:37).)

"For" (kı̄) presupposes the suppressed thought, that this unexampled event has now occurred: yâledâh follows châlâh with gam, because chı̄l signifies strictly parturire; yâl, parere. Zion, the mother, is no other than the woman of the sun in Revelation 12; but the child born of her there is the shepherd of the nations, who proceeds from her at the end of the days, whereas here it is the new Israel of the last days; for the church, which is saved through all her tribulations, is both the mother of the Lord, by whom Babel is overthrown, and the mother of that Israel which inherits the promises, that the unbelieving mass have failed to obtain. Isaiah 66:9 follows with an emphatic confirmation of the things promised. Jehovah inquires: "Should I create the delivery (cause the child to break through the matrix) and not the birth (both hiphil, causative), so that although the child makes an effort to pass the opening of the womb, it never comes to the light of day? Or should I be one to bring it to the birth, and then to have closed, viz., the womb, so that the word of bringing forth should remain ineffectual, when all that is required is the last effort to bring to the light the fruit of the womb?" From the expression "thy God," we see that the questions are addressed to Zion, whose faith they are intended to strengthen. According to Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, 149, 150), the future יאמר affirms what Jehovah will say, when the time for bringing forth arrives, and the perfect אמר what He is saying now: "Should I who create the bringing forth have shut up?" And He comforts the now barren daughter Zion (Isaiah 54:1) with the assurance, that her barrenness is not meant to continue for ever. "The prediction," says Hofmann, "which is contained in ה יאמר, of the ultimate issue of the fate of Zion, is so far connected with the consolation administered for the time present, that she who is barren now is exhorted to anticipate the time when the former promise shall be fulfilled." But this change in the standpoint is artificial, and contrary to the general use of the expression ה יאמר elsewhere (see at Isaiah 40:1). Moreover, the meaning of the two clauses, which constitute here as elsewhere a disjunctive double question in form more than in sense, really runs into one. The first member affirms that Jehovah will complete the bringing to the birth; the second, that He will not ultimately frustrate what He has almost brought to completion: an ego sum is qui parere faciat et (uterum) occluserim (occludam)? There is no other difference between יאמר and אמר, than that the former signifies the word of God which is sounding at the present moment, the latter the word that has been uttered and is resounding still. The prophetic announcement of our prophet has advanced so far, that the promised future is before the door. The church of the future is already like the fruit of the body ripe for the birth, and about to separate itself from the womb of Zion, which has been barren until now. The God by whom everything has been already so far prepared, will suddenly cause Zion to become a mother - a boy, viz., a whole people after Jehovah's own heart, will suddenly lie in her lap, and this new-born Israel, not the corrupt mass, will build a temple for Jehovah.

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