Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?The Genesis of Delusions
They will think it is the devil, but I am behind it all; they will ascribe it to some peculiar condition of the brain, and they will endeavour to trace that condition to indigestion, to the wrong food, to a mistake in choices and fancies; they will never suspect that I am in it. We are not worshippers of a limited Sovereign; the universe is not split up into sections, God presiding over, it may be, the larger section, and the devil presiding over the remaining fraction. Yet it would seem as if this was the religion of some people; what wonder if they are disturbed and perturbed and dealt with vexatiously, the whole process ending in confusion twice confounded? They do not know the central reality of things; they have no faith; they have a kind of meagre and struggling sentiment, but a deep, living, eternal faith they have not; and they cannot have until they get back to the centre and metaphysic of things.
The Apostle uses the word which we have correctly translated delusion: 'For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie' (2 Thessalonians 2:11). The Apostle Paul was not so dainty and whimsically sensitive as we are; his God ruled the heavens and the earth, little time and great eternity. And he said that the object of this delusion was that 'They all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness'. We should carefully consider the exact terms used by the indignant and ever-majestic Apostle. God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe not a lie, as it is written in this English, but that they should believe the lie—the lie of the day, the popular lie.
I. When does God choose for us our delusions, intellectual devices, and mean and false-tending imaginings and nightmares? Often when we have sinned away our privileges. We have attended church so long as to have become quite familiar with it, with a familiarity of that kind which breeds, if not contempt, at least indifference. A man may have sat through a ministry thirty years long, and have remained a hard heart at the last. A man may boast that he sat under the brilliant ministry of one teacher, and the instructive teaching of another expositor, and under the comforting ministry of one tender-hearted as Barnabas; and yet when we come to ask him concerning the result of it all, we may find him under the spell of a delusion which keeps him out of the Church and makes him an alien and a stranger who ought to have been like a child at home. It is a dangerous thing to have too many spiritual privileges; such an abundance of opportunity of understanding somewhat of the kingdom of God may tell against us in the judgment.
II. When we have trusted our own imaginations God may have turned imagination itself, our finest faculty, into a delusion. When the imagination carries us too far God simply breathes upon us, and it becomes a delusion; He takes the poetry out of it, He robs day of the morning light, and that which might under some circumstances have been to us as wings, great strong pinions that flap themselves in the upper airs, yea, even at the gate of heaven, may be turned into a poor cripple, a mean dreamer, a man who is the victim of his own misguided impression. God often chooses our oracles for us or our delusions for us when we seek for guidance at forbidden oracles.
III. God always sends us delusions when we undertake the management of our own lives. A man thinks that he will undertake everything on his own account and do it in his own strength, not knowing that he has no account and that he has no strength but such as may be given to him by a condescending and loving God.
Then what are we to do? We are to go back to God, we are to live and move and have our being in God, we are to have a sanctuary in the rock, we are to possess the key of a chamber in high places into which we can retire prayerfully, lovingly, and penitentially, there to learn what God would have us do on this particular day and at that particular hour. Then we shall have no delusion.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. III. p. 69.
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.
A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.
Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.
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.
For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.
For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
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.
And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.
And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.
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.
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.
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases 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.