Isaiah 4:5
And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
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(5) And the Lord will create . . .—The verb “create” has all the solemn force with which we find it in Genesis 1:1. It is one of Isaiah’s favourite words. The word for “dwelling-place” is almost invariably used for the tabernacle or temple, and would seem to have that meaning here. This determines the character of the “assemblies.” They are not the meetings of the people for counsel or debate, as in a Greek ecclesia, but their “gatherings,” their “solemn assemblies,” in the courts of the temple. The thoughts of the prophet travel back to the history of the Exodus, when the presence of Jehovah was manifested as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21; Numbers 9:15; Numbers 10:34; Numbers 14:14). In that Presence there would be safety and peace. The image is a favourite one with Isaiah, possibly as connected with the vision of Isaiah 6:4, for God’s protection of His people.

Upon all the glory shall be a defence.—The phrase is almost startlingly abrupt. The thought seems to be that over the “glory” of the new Jerusalem, as just described, there shall be stretched the overarching canopy of the Divine Love. The word for “defence” occurs in this sense in Psalm 19:5, Joel 2:16, and is still used by Jews of the “canopy” held over bride and bridegroom at a wedding. The “baldacchino” over the altar of an Italian church probably represents the image that was present to Isaiah’s mind.



Isaiah 4:5

The pillar of cloud and fire in the Exodus was one: there are to be as many pillars as there are ‘assemblies’ in the new era. Is it straining the language too much to find significance in that difference? Instead of the formal unity of the Old Covenant, there is a variety which yet is a more vital unity. Is there not a hint here of the same lesson that is taught by the change of the one golden lamp-stand into the seven, which are a better unity because Jesus Christ walks among them?

The heart of this promise, thus cast into the form of ancient experiences, but with significant variations, is that of true communion with God.

That communion makes those who have it glorious.

That communion supplies unfailing guidance.

A man in close fellowship with God will have wonderful flashes of sagacity, even about small practical matters. The gleam of the pillar will illumine conscience, and shine on many difficult, dark places. The ‘simplicity’ of a saintly soul will often see deeper into puzzling contingencies than the vulpine craftiness of the ‘prudent.’ The darker the night, the brighter the guidance.

That communion gives a defence.

The pillar came between Egypt and Israel, and kept the foe off the timid crowd of slaves. Whatever forms our enemies take, fellowship with God will invest us with a defence as protean as our perils. The same cloud is represented in the context as being ‘a pavilion for a shadow in the heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain.’

Isaiah 4:5. And the Lord will create — Will, in a marvellous manner, produce, as it were, by a new work of creation; upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion — Upon all the private habitations of his people; and upon her assemblies — Upon the places of their public worship, and the persons assembled therein; a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining, &c. — He alludes to the pillar of a cloud and fire, which conducted and protected the Israelites in the wilderness, and afterward rested upon the tabernacle; and his words imply, that God would be the protector and glory of Zion. Such he was to Jerusalem after the return from Babylon; directing the Jews in their various difficulties, and defending them in their weak state against all the contrivances and attempts of their enemies, as we learn from the book of Nehemiah: and thus especially he was present with, and guided, protected, and preserved the first Christian Church, when he destroyed their unbelieving and disobedient countrymen. Upon all the glory shall be a defence — Upon all that church and people, which God will make glorious: upon the literal, but especially upon the mystical Jerusalem, upon all holy societies, or assemblies of sincere Christians. A learned commentator, who says the dwelling-places and assemblies of Sion “refer to the meetings of the apostles and other Christians at Jerusalem;” and that the next clause, upon all the glory, &c., means that the divine protection shall be afforded wherever God manifests himself by the extraordinary signs of his gracious presence, adds as follows: “Every symbol of the divine grace and glory, such as was the cloud, brings with it the protection and defence of that place or assembly, which is blessed with this prerogative. The event proves the truth of this interpretation. So long as God was in the temple, that place rejoiced in the benefit of the divine protection. When the voice was heard, ‘Let us depart hence,’ it was left to the desolation of its enemies.” Now the same, as he says, holds good in the Christian Church. While she cleaves to God, adheres to his truth, possesses his grace, obeys his laws, and worships him in the beauty of holiness, she has his presence with her, and is safe and happy. But, when the reverse of all this takes place, when his truth is disbelieved, his grace neglected, his laws broken, and his ordinances slighted, or attended in a mere formal way, his presence is withdrawn, and her glory and defence depart together.

4:2-6 Not only the setting forth Christ's kingdom in the times of the apostles, but its enlargement by gathering the dispersed Jews into the church, is foretold. Christ is called the Branch of the Lord, being planted by his power, and flourishing to his praise. The gospel is the fruit of the Branch of the Lord; all the graces and comforts of the gospel spring from Christ. It is called the fruit of the earth, because it sprang up in this world, and was suited for the present state. It will be good evidence that we are distinguished from those merely called Israel, if we are brought to see all beauty in Christ, and holiness. As a type of this blessed day, Jerusalem should again flourish as a branch, and be blessed with the fruits of the earth. God will keep for himself a holy seed. When most of those that have a place and a name in Zion, and in Jerusalem, shall be cut off by their unbelief, some shall be left. Those only that are holy shall be left, when the Son of man shall gather out of his kingdom every thing which offends. By the judgment of God's providence, sinners were destroyed and consumed; but by the Spirit of grace they are reformed and converted. The Spirit herein acts as a Spirit of judgment, enlightening the mind, convincing the conscience; also as a Spirit of burning, quickening and strengthening the affections, and making men zealously affected in a good work. An ardent love to Christ and souls, and zeal against sin, will carry men on with resolution in endeavours to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Every affliction serves believers as a furnace, to purify them from dross; and the convincing, enlightening, and powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, gradually root out their lusts, and render them holy as He is holy. God will protect his church, and all that belong to it. Gospel truths and ordinances are the glory of the church. Grace in the soul is the glory of it; and those that have it are kept by the power of God. But only those who are weary will seek rest; only those who are convinced that a storm is approaching, will look for shelter. Affected with a deep sense of the Divine displeasure, to which we are exposed by sin, let us at once have recourse to Jesus Christ, and thankfully accept the refuge he affords.And the Lord will create - The meaning of this verse and the next is, that God would take his people into his holy care and protection. The idea is expressed by images drawn, in this verse, from the protection which he afforded to the Israelites in their journeying from Egypt. The word "create" means here, he will afford, or furnish, such a defense.

Upon every dwelling-place ... - Upon all the habitations of his people; that is, they shall be secure, and regarded as under his protection. The word "upon" refers to the fact that the pillar of cloud stood "over" the tabernacle in the wilderness, as a symbol of the divine favor and presence. So his protection should be "on" or "over" the houses of all his people; compare Psalm 92:4-6.

Of mount Zion - compare the note at Isaiah 1:8.

And upon her assemblies - Their convocations; their sacred assemblies, such as were called together on the Sabbath; Leviticus 23:2; Numbers 28:18. It refers here to their "future" assemblies, and, therefore, includes the Christian church assembled to worship God.

A cloud and smoke by day - This refers to the pillar of cloud that went before the Israelites in their journey in the wilderness; Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:20.

By day - By day, this appeared to them as a cloud; by night, as a pillar of fire; Exodus 13:21-22. That is, it was always conspicuous, and could be seen by all the people. A pillar of cloud could not have been seen by night; and God changes the symbols of his presence and protection, so that at all times his people may see them. The meaning here is, that as God gave to the Israelites a symbol of his presence and protection, so he would be the protecter and defender of his people hereafter.

For upon all the glory - Above all the "glorious object;" that is, his church, his people. It is here called 'the glory,' as being a glorious, or an honorable object.

A defense - This word properly means "a covering, a protection," from the verb "to cover," and means that God will protect, or defend his people.

5. create—The "new creation" needs as much God's creative omnipotence, as the material creation (2Co 4:6; Eph 2:10). So it shall be in the case of the Holy Jerusalem to come (Isa 65:17, 18).

upon—The pillar of cloud stood over the tabernacle, as symbol of God's favor and presence (Ex 13:21, 22; Ps 91:1). Both on individual families ("every dwelling") and on the general sacred "assemblies" (Le 23:2). The "cloud" became a "fire" by night in order to be seen by the Lord's people.

upon all the glory—"upon the glorious whole"; namely, the Lord's people and sanctuary [Maurer]. May it not mean, "Upon whatever the glory (the Shekinah spoken of in the previous clause) shall rest, there shall be a defense." The symbol of His presence shall ensure also safety. So it was to Israel against the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex 14:19, 20). So it shall be to literal Jerusalem hereafter (Zec 2:5). Also to the Church, the spiritual "Zion" (Isa 32:18; 33:15-17; Heb 12:22).

tabernacle—Christ's body (Joh 1:14). "The word 'tabernacled' (Greek for 'dwelt') among us" (Joh 2:21; Heb 8:2). It is a "shadow from the heat" and "refuge from the storm" of divine wrath against man's sins (Isa 25:4). Heat and storms are violent in the East; so that a portable tent is a needful part of a traveller's outfit. Such shall be God's wrath hereafter, from which the "escaped of Israel" shall be sheltered by Jesus Christ (Isa 26:20, 21; 32:2).

covert—answering to "defense" (Isa 4:5). The Hebrew for defense in Isa 4:5, is "covering"; the lid of the ark or mercy seat was named from the same Hebrew word, caphar; the propitiatory; for it, being sprinkled with blood by the high priest once a year, on the day of atonement, covered the people typically from wrath. Jesus Christ is the true Mercy Seat, on whom the Shekinah rested, the propitiatory, or atonement, beneath whom the law is kept, as it was literally within the ark, and man is covered from the storm. The redeemed Israel shall also be, by union with Him, a tabernacle for God's glory, which, unlike that in the wilderness, shall not be taken down (Isa 38:20).

Will create; will in a marvellous manner produce, as it were by a new work of creation.

A cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flashing fire by night; a pillar of cloud and fire, like that wherewith the Lord directed, and protected, and honoured the israelites, when they came out of Egypt; whereby he implies that God would be their protector and their glory.

Upon all the glory; upon all that church and people, which God will make so glorious, not only in his own eyes, but even in the eyes of the world; upon all holy assemblies of sincere Christians.

And the Lord will create on every dwelling place of Mount Zion,.... That is, on every particular church of Christ in Gospel times, and especially in the latter day; which are the dwelling places of Father, Son, and Spirit, and of believers in Christ. The word (o) used signifies a place well fitted up, and prepared, and established, and settled; and such will be the churches of Christ in the latter day glory; they will be fitly framed together and built up, a habitation for God, through the Spirit; they will be beautified, and made glorious, and will be established upon the top of the mountains, and be tabernacles that shall not be taken down, whose stakes and cords shall not be removed and broken, Ephesians 2:21 and so will be sure dwellings, and quiet resting places; and happy will those be who will be the inhabitants of them, since they will have the best of company, the best of provisions, and all health and prosperity, Isaiah 32:18,

and upon her assemblies; or "her convocations" (p); in allusion to the holy convocations and solemn assemblies of the Israelites at their festivals, Leviticus 23:2 which are the churches of Christ, as before, consisting of men called by the grace of God, with a holy calling; called to be saints, and so are an assembly of saints, Psalm 89:7 called by means of the Gospel, as the Israelites were by the blowing of the trumpets, to assemble together, to hear the word, and attend every part of divine worship, Numbers 10:2 and as the invisible church is called Zion, and the general assembly, Hebrews 12:22 so particular visible churches are called assemblies, Ecclesiastes 12:11 and which will be very numerous in the latter day, and well attended.

A cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; alluding to the Lord's going before the children of Israel in the wilderness, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night; and to their being upon and covering the tabernacle, when it rested; and also to the cloud and smoke that were upon Mount Sinai, when the Lord was present there, Exodus 13:20 and as a cloud was frequently a symbol of the divine Presence, both in the Old and in the New Testament, Exodus 19:9, 1 Kings 8:10 so it may here signify that the presence of God with his churches in the latter day will be very manifest and remarkable; he will be seen over them, and be the glory in the midst of them, Zechariah 2:5 and it may also denote the gracious protection of the churches by Christ from all their enemies; as the cloud stood between the Israelites and the Egyptians, when they passed through the Red sea, and secured them from them, Exodus 14:19 as well as a cloud, is refreshing and protecting from heat, as Christ then will be from heat of every kind. See Gill on Isaiah 4:6. And as the pillar of fire was to give light to the children of Israel, and direct them in their passage through the wilderness in the night time; so Christ will be the light of his people, by the very great illuminations of his spirit, and the clear preaching of the Gospel, which will give both light and heat; and from both which will arise such a bright shining light, as shall drive away the night of affliction, darkness, desertion, and sleepiness, which shall precede this glorious day. See Isaiah 60:1 and this will be all the Lord's doing, a work of his almighty power, and therefore signified by a "creation"; it will be a new, strange, and marvellous work; wonderful in the eyes of the saints, and in the eyes of the world, that those who have been forsaken and hated should be made an eternal excellency, and the joy of many generations, Isaiah 60:15,

for upon all the glory shall he a defence; the glory of the churches in the latter day will greatly consist in the presence of God and Christ; in the pouring forth of the Spirit upon them; in the purity of Gospel doctrine, worship, and discipline among them; in the holiness of their lives and conversation; and in the peace, harmony, and unity, that shall subsist with them; and the defence of this glory will be partly the ministers of the Gospel, in the pure administration of the word and ordinances, as means, but principally the Lord himself, who will be a wall of fire about them, and will appoint salvation as walls and bulwarks to them, Zechariah 2:5.

(o) a "paravit, disposuit". (p) "super convocationes ejus", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius.

And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, {h} a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the {i} glory shall be a defence.

(h) He alludes to the pillar of the cloud, Ex 13:21, meaning that God's favour and protection should appear in every place.

(i) The faithful are called the glory of God because his image and tokens of his grace shine in them.

5. upon every dwelling place …] rather, over the whole (divine) habitation of Mount Zion. The word is never used of human dwellings. It might be translated, “foundation”; in either case it is equivalent to “sanctuary.”

her assemblies] convocations, worshipping assemblies, as in Isaiah 1:13.

a cloud … night] better (disregarding the accents), a cloud by day and smoke with the shining of a flaming fire by night.

for upon all the glory … defence] A perplexing clause. A literal translation would be for over every glory (should be) a canopy. So rendered, the words express a general principle of ceremonial propriety: wherever there is “a glory” (as e.g. royal majesty), it must be provided with a suitable canopy. The clause may be a marginal gloss suggested to a reader by the first part of the verse. The word for “canopy” occurs only in Psalm 19:5; Joel 2:16 in the sense of “nuptial pavilion” (see Robertson Smith, Marriage and Kinship in Early Arabia, pp. 168f.). In post-biblical Hebrew it means (as here) “canopy” in general.

5, 6. The gracious presence of God becomes a visible fact to men’s eyes, in the cloud of fire and smoke which overshadows and protects the new Jerusalem. The symbolism is drawn from the story of the Exodus and the tabernacle in the desert (Exodus 13:21 f., Exodus 40:34-38, &c.).

Verse 5. - Upon every dwelling-place ("over the whole habitation," Revised Version). Mr. Cheyne translates "upon the whole site," and takes the "site" to be especially the temple. Makon seems certainly never to be used for anything but "God's dwelling-place" (Exodus 15:17; 1 Kings 8:13, 39, etc.; 2 Chronicles 6:2, 30, etc.; Ezra 2:68; Psalm 33:14; Psalm 89:14; Psalm 97:2; Psalm 104:5; Isaiah 18:4; Daniel 8:11). Perhaps, however, every dwelling-place of God, i.e. every Christian Church, is intended. On these, and on all Christian assemblies, there will rest a new presence of God - one which he will have "created;" recalling that of the pillar of fire and of cloud which rested in the wilderness on the Jewish tabernacle (Exodus 33:9; Exodus 40:34-38, etc.). A cloud and smoke by day. The "pillar of the cloud" is never said in the Pentateuch to have been one of" smoke;" but Sinai "smoked" when God descended on it (Exodus 19:18; Exodus 20:18), and the psalmist speaks of a "smoke" as issuing out of God's nostrils (Psalm 18:8). In the poetry of Isaiah," smoke, no less than "cloud," symbolizes God's presence (see Isaiah 6:4). Upon all the glory shall be a defense; rather, as in the margin, a covering. Over all the glory of Zion, its purged temple and its purified assemblies, the presence of God shall rest like a canopy, protecting it. Isaiah 4:5"And Jehovah creates over every spot of Mount Zion, and over its festal assemblies, a cloud by day, and smoke, and the shining of flaming fire by night: for over all the glory comes a canopy." Just as Jehovah guided and shielded Israel in the days of the redemption from Egypt in a smoke-cloud by day and a fire-cloud by night, which either moved in front like a pillar, or floated above them as a roof (Numbers 14:14, etc.), the perpetuation of His presence at Sinai (Exodus 19:9, Exodus 19:16.); so would Jehovah in like manner shield the Israel of the final redemption, which would no longer need the pillar of cloud since its wanderings would be over, but only the cloudy covering; and such a covering Jehovah would create, as the praet. consec. וּברא) ("and He creates") distinctly affirms. The verb bârâh always denotes a divine and miraculous production, having its commencement in time; for even the natural is also supernatural in its first institution by God. In the case before us, however, the reference is to a fresh manifestation of His gracious presence, exalted above the present course of nature. This manifestation would consist by day in "a cloud," and as the hendiadys "cloud and smoke" (i.e., cloud in form and smoke in substance) distinctly affirms, a smoke-cloud, not a watery cloud, like those which ordinarily cover the sky; and by night in a fiery splendour, not merely a lingering fiery splendour like that of the evening sky, but, as the words clearly indicate, a flaming brightness (lehâbâh ), and therefore real and living fire. The purpose of the cloud would not only be to overshadow, but also to serve as a wall of defence against opposing influences;

(Note: The cloud derived its name, ‛ânân, not from the idea of covering, but from that of coming to meet one. The clouds come towards the man who gazes at them, inserting themselves between him and the sky, and thus forcing themselves upon his notice instead of the sky; hence the visible outer side of the vault of heaven is also called ‛anan (plur. ‛anân), just as the same word is used to denote the outermost portion of the branches or foliage of a tree which is the first to strike the eye (in contradistinction to the inner portions, which are not so easily seen, seven if visible at all).)

and the fire would not only give light, but by flaming and flashing would ward off hostile powers. But, above all, the cloud and fire were intended as signs of the nearness of God, and His satisfaction. In the most glorious times of the temple a smoke-cloud of this kind filled the Holy of holies; and there was only one occasion - namely, at the dedication of Solomon's temple - on which it filled the whole building (1 Kings 8:10); but now the cloud, the smoke of which, moreover, would be turned at night into flaming fire, would extend over every spot (mâcōn, a more poetical word for mâkōm) of Mount Zion, and over the festal assemblies thereon. The whole mountain would thus become a Holy of holies. It would be holy not only as being the dwelling-place of Jehovah, but as the gathering-place of a community of saints. "Her assemblies" (mikrâehâ) points back to Zion, and is a plural written defectively (at least in our editions),

(Note: Such codices and ancient editions as Soncino (1488), Brescia (1494), and many others, have the word with the yod of the plural.)

- as, for example, in Jeremiah 19:8. There is no necessity to take this noun in the sense of "meeting halls" (a meaning which it never has anywhere else), as Gesenius, Ewald, Hitzig, and others have done, since it may also signify "the meetings," though not in an abstract, but in a concrete sense (ecclesiae).

(Note: It is doubtful whether the form מפעל (מפעל) is ever strictly a nomen actionis kal (Ges. 84, 14). Its meaning seems rather to be always concrete, even in Arabic, where menâm signifies a sleeping-place, sleeping-time, or a dream, but never sleep, or sleeping (like inse, Heb. shenâh, or naum, Heb. nūm).)

The explanatory clause, "for over all the glory (comes) a canopy," admits of several interpretations. Dr. Shegg and others take it in the general sense: "for defence and covering are coming for all that is glorious." Now, even if this thought were not so jejune as it is, the word Chuppâh would not be the word used to denote covering for the sake of protection; it signifies rather covering for the sake of beautifying and honouring that which is covered. Chuppâh is the name still given by the Jews to the wedding canopy, i.e., a canopy supported on four poles and carried by four boys, under which the bride and bridegroom receive the nuptial blessing - a meaning which is apparently more appropriate, even in Psalm 19:6 and Joel 2:16, than the ordinary explanation thalamus to torus. Such a canopy would float above Mount Zion in the form of a cloud of smoke and blaze of fire. (There is no necessity to take Chuppâh as a third pers. pual, since תּהיה, which follows immediately afterwards in Isaiah 4:6, may easily be supplied in thought.) The only question is whether Col Câbōd signifies "every kind of glory," or according to Psalm 39:6; Psalm 45:14, "pure glory" (Hofmann, Stud. u. Krit. 1847, pp. 936-38). The thought that Jerusalem would now be "all glory," as its inhabitants were all holiness, and therefore that this shield would be spread out over pure glory, is one that thoroughly commends itself. but we nevertheless prefer the former, as more in accordance with the substantive clause. The glory which Zion would now possess would be exposed to no further injury: Jehovah would acknowledge it by signs of His gracious presence; for henceforth there would be nothing glorious in Zion, over which there would not be a canopy spread in the manner described, shading and yet enlightening, hiding, defending, and adorning it.

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