Isaiah 66:4
I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears on them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spoke, they did not hear: but they did evil before my eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) I also will choose their delusions . . .—The Hebrew noun conveys the thought of the turnings and windings of fortune—what has been called the irony of history. These are the instruments with which God, as it were, mocks and has in derision those who mock Him by their hypocrisy. Their choice did not delight Him; what He chooses will be far other than delightful for them. (Comp. Psalm 2:4; Proverbs 1:24-26.)

Isaiah 66:4. I also will choose their delusions — I will punish them in their own way, and set those over them as teachers who shall govern them by their traditions instead of my word. Or, I will suffer false Christs and false prophets to deceive them, Matthew 24:24; John 5:43. And I will bring their fears upon them — This was exactly fulfilled when, as they crucified Christ for fear of the Romans, (John 11:48,) that very sin was punished with their utter destruction by the Romans. Because when I called — Because when, by my servants, I called you to repentance, to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, and to believe in my Son, your true Messiah; none did answer — Very few yielded obedience. He evidently speaks of the calls to repentance, and the invitations to believe in Christ, given them by John the Baptist, Jesus himself, and his apostles and evangelists. When I spake they did not hear — God accounts that those do not hear who do not obey his will.66:1-4 The Jews gloried much in their temple. But what satisfaction can the Eternal Mind take in a house made with men's hands? God has a heaven and an earth of his own making, and temples of man's making; but he overlooks them, that he may look with favour to him who is poor in spirit and serious, self-abasing and self-denying; whose heart truly sorrows for sin: such a heart is a living temple for God. The sacrifice of the wicked is not only unacceptable, but a great offence to God. And he that now offers a sacrifice after the law, does in effect set aside Christ's sacrifice. He that burns incense, puts contempt upon the incense of Christ's intercession, and is as if he blessed an idol. Men shall be deceived by the vain confidences with which they deceive themselves. Unbelieving hearts, and unpurified consciences, need no more to make them miserable, than to have their own fears brought upon them. Whatever men put in the place of the priesthood, atonement, and intercession of Christ, will be found hateful to God.I also will choose their delusions - Margin, 'Devices.' The Hebrew word rendered here 'delusions' and 'devices' (תעלוּלים ta‛ălûlı̂ym) properly denotes petulance, sauciness; and then vexation, adverse destiny, from עלל ‛âlal, to do, to accomplish, to do evil, to maltreat. It is not used in the sense of delusions, or devices; and evidently here means the same as calamity or punishment. Compare the Hebrew in Lamentations 1:22. Lowth and Noyes render it, Calamities; though Jerome and the Septuagint understand it in the sense of illusions or delusions; the former rendering it, 'Illusiones, and the latter ἐμπαίγματα empaigmata - 'delusions.' The parallelism requires us to understand it of calamity, or something answering to 'fear,' or that which was dreaded; and the sense undoubtedly is, that God would choose out for them the kind of punishment which would be expressive of his sense of the evil of their conduct.

And will bring their fears upon them - That is, the punishment which they have so much dreaded, or which they had so much reason to apprehend.

Because when I called - (See the notes at Isaiah 65:12).

But they did evil before mine eyes - (See the notes at Isaiah 65:3).

4. delusions—(2Th 2:11), answering to "their own ways" (Isa 66:3; so Pr 1:31). However, the Hebrew means rather "vexations," "calamities," which also the parallelism to "fears" requires; "choose their calamities" means, "choose the calamities which they thought to escape by their own ways."

their fears—the things they feared, to avert which their idolatrous "abominations" (Isa 66:3) were practised.

I called … none … answer—(See on [881]Isa 65:12; [882]Isa 65:24; [883]Jer 7:13).

did … chose—not only did the evil deed, but did it deliberately as a matter of choice (Ro 1:32). "They chose that in which I delighted not"; therefore, "I will choose" that in which they delight not, the "calamities" and "fears" which they were most anxious to avert.

before mine eyes—(See on [884]Isa 65:3).

They had made their choice, they chose not the ways of God, but their own ways, that which God delighted not in, as in the latter part of this verse; therefore (saith God) I will also choose their delusions, or illusions, or devices. Montanus translates it, ad inventionibus; it is a noun derived from a word which signifies to speak childishly or corruptly; the word in this form is only used in this text, and in 1 Samuel 25:3; it signifies studies, or works, Psalm 12:4 Isaiah 3:4 Hosea 4:9. It is an ordinary thing for God thus generally to declare his justice against men, that he will deal with sinners as they deal with him; so Psalm 18:25,26 Le 26:27,28 Jer 34:17 Proverbs 1:24,28. The meaning is, I will be no kinder to them than they have been to me; they have chosen to mock and delude me, I will choose to suffer them to delude themselves; or they have chosen to work wickedness, I will choose the effect. Their fears; that is, (say some,) the things which they feared, and did these things to avoid, as Jeremiah 42:16 Ezekiel 11:8. Others by their fears choose rather to understand such terrors and affrightments as are natural to men upon the prospect of great evils, as. Leviticus 20:4: as God in mercy delivereth his people from their fears, Psalm 34:4; so in judgment he causeth fears as a great judgment to possess sinners, Leviticus 26:16 Deu 28:66.

Because when I called, none did answer; because when by my prophets I exhorted you to your duty, very few yielded obedience: see Proverbs 1:24 Isaiah 65:12 Jeremiah 7:13.

When I spake, they did not hear: hearing here signifieth hearkening or obeying; not hearing is expounded by doing evil, and choosing that wherein God delighted not. God accounts that those do not hear who do not obey his will. I also will choose their delusions,.... Suffer them to approve and make choice of such persons that should delude and deceive them; as the Scribes and Pharisees, who were wolves in sheep's clothing, and through their appearance of sanctity deceived many, and by their long prayers devoured widows' houses; and as these false prophets, so likewise false Christs, many of which arose after the true Messiah was come, and was rejected by them, whom they embraced, and, by whom they were deluded and ruined, Matthew 7:15.

and will bring their fears upon them; the things they feared; such as the sword, famine, and pestilence; and especially the Romans, who, they feared, would come and take away their place and nation, John 11:48,

because, when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear; that is, when Christ called unto the Jews, in the external ministry of the word, to come and hear him, they refused to come, nor would they suffer others to answer to this call, and hear him, and attend on his ministry; which rejection of him and his Gospel was the cause of their ruin:

but they did evil before mine eyes; openly and publicly to his face; blasphemed and contradicted his word, and despised his ordinances: and chose that in which I delighted not; their oral law, their legal sacrifices, and their own self-righteousness, as well as their immoralities.

I also will {e} choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spoke, they did not hear: but they did evil before my eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

(e) I will discover their wickedness and hypocrisy, with which they think to blind my eyes to all the world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. delusions] Perhaps insults; see on ch. Isaiah 3:4. Cheyne renders expressively “freaks of fortune,” remarking, “the word is very peculiar: it represents calamity under the figure of a petulant child.”

their fears] i.e. “that which they fear,” and strive to avert by their magical rites.

because when I called &c.] Repeated from ch. Isaiah 65:12.Verse 4. - Their delusions; or, their childish follies (LXX., ἐμπαίγματα). As God sends on some men "strong delusion that they should believe a lie" (2 Thessalonians 2:11), so on others he sends a spirit of childish folly, which makes their conduct silly and headstrong. Persons whose characters are of this stamp are especially liable to vain and groundless "fears." When I called, none did answer (comp. Isaiah 65:12, and see the comment on that passage). לבּהלה. Fleischer says: "בּהל and Arabic bahala are so far connected, that the stem בהל, like בלהּ, signifies primarily to let loose, or let go. This passes over partly into outward overtaking or overturning, and partly into internal surprise and bewildering, and partly also (in Arabic) into setting free on the one hand, and outlawing on the other (compare the Azazel-goat of the day of atonement, which was sent away into the wilderness); hence it is used as an equivalent for Arabic la‛ana (execrare)."

In passing to our exposition of the book, the first thing which strikes us is its traditional title - Yeshaiah (Isaiah). In the book itself, and throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, the prophet is called Yeshayahu; and the shorter form is found in the latest books as the name of other persons. It was a common thing in the very earliest times for the shorter forms of such names to be used interchangeably with the longer; but in later times the shorter was the only form employed, and for this reason it was the one adopted in the traditional title. The name is a compound one, and signifies "Jehovah's salvation." The prophet was conscious that it was not merely by accident that he bore this name; for ישׁע (he shall save) and ישׁוּעה (salvation) are among his favourite words. It may be said, in fact, that he lived and moved altogether in the coming salvation, which was to proceed from Jehovah, and would be realized hereafter, when Jehovah should come at last to His people as He had never come before. This salvation was the goal of the sacred history (Heilsgeschichte, literally, history of salvation); and Jehovah was the peculiar name of God in relation to that history. It denotes "the existing one," not however "the always existing," i.e., eternal, as Bunsen and the Jewish translators render it, but "existing evermore," i.e., filling all history, and displaying His glory therein in grace and truth. The ultimate goal of this historical process, in which God was ever ruling as the absolutely free One, according to His own self-assertion in Exodus 3:14, was true and essential salvation, proceeding outwards from Israel, and eventually embracing all mankind. In the name of the prophet the tetragrammaton יהוה is contracted into יהו (יה) by the dropping of the second ה. We may easily see from this contraction that the name of God was pronounced with an a sound, so that it was either called Yahveh, or rather Yahaveh, or else Yahvâh, or rather Yahavâh. According to Theodoret, it was pronounced ̓Ιαβε (Yahaveh) by the Samaritans; and it is written in the same way in the list of the names of the Deity given in Epiphanius. That the ah sound was also a customary pronunciation, may not only be gathered from such names as Jimnah, Jimrah, Jishvah, Jishpah (compare Jithlah, the name of a place), but is also expressly attested by the ancient variations, Jao, Jeuo, Jo (Jeremiah 23:6, lxx), on the one hand, and on the other hand by the mode of spelling adopted by Origen (Jaoia) and Theodoret (Aia, not only in quaest, in Exodus 15, but also in Fab. haeret. "Aia signifies the existing one; it was pronounced thus by Hebrews, but the Samaritans call it Jabai, overlooking the force of the word"). The dull-sounding long a could be expressed by omega quite as well as by alpha. Isidor follows these and similar testimonies, and says (Orig. vii. 7), "The tetragrammaton consisted of ia written twice (iaia), and with this reduplication it constituted the unutterable and glorious name of God." The Arabic form adopted by the Samaritans leaves it uncertain whether it is to be pronounced Yahve or Yahva. They wrote to Job Ludolf (in the Epistola Samaritana Sichemitarum tertia, published by Bruns, 1781), in opposition to the statement of Theodoret, that they pronounced the last syllable with damma; that is to say, they pronounced the name Yahavoh (Yahvoh), which was the form in which it was written in the last century by Velthusen, and also by Muffi in his Disegno di lezioni e di ricerche sulla lingua Ebraica (Pavia, 1792). The pronunciation Jehovah (Yehovah) arose out of a combination of the Keri and the chethib, and has only become current since the time of the Reformation. Genebrard denounces it in his Commentary upon the Psalms with the utmost vehemence, in opposition to Beza, as an intolerable innovation. "Ungodly violators of what is most ancient," he says, "profaning and transforming the unutterable name of God, would read Jova or Jehova - a new, barbarous, fictitious, and irreligious word, that savours strongly of the Jove of the heathen." Nevertheless his Jehova (Jova) forced its way into general adoption, and we shall therefore retain it, notwithstanding the fact that the o sound is decidedly wrong. To return, then: the prophet's name signifies "Jehovah's salvation." In the Septuagint it is always written ̔Ησαΐ̀ας, with a strong aspirate; in the Vulgate it is written Isaias, and sometimes Esaias.

In turning from the outward to the inward title, which is contained in the book itself, there are two things to be observed at the outset: (1.) The division of the vv. indicated by soph pasuk is an arrangement for which the way was prepared as early as the time of the Talmud, and which was firmly established in the Masoretic schools; and consequently it reaches as far back as the extreme limits of the middle ages - differing in this respect from the division of vv. in the New Testament. The arrangement of the chapters, however, with the indications of the separate sections of the prophetic collection, is of no worth to us, simply because it is not older than the thirteenth century. According to some authorities, it originated with Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury († 1227); whilst others attribute it to Cardinal Hugo of St. Caro († 1262). It is only since the fifteenth century that it has been actually adopted in the text. (2.) The small ring or star at the commencement points to the footnote, which affirms that Isaiah 1:1-28 (where we find the same sign again) was the haphtarah, or concluding pericope, taken from the prophets, which was read on the same Sabbath as the parashah from the Pentateuch, in Deuteronomy 1:1. It was, as we shall afterwards see, a very thoughtful principle of selection which led to the combination of precisely these two lessons.

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