Isaiah 66:4
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.
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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). Isaiah 66:4Although the note on which this prophecy opens is a different one from any that has yet been struck, there are many points in which it coincides with the preceding prophecy. For not only is Isaiah 65:12 repeated here in Isaiah 66:4, but the sharp line of demarcation drawn in chapter 65, between the servants of Jehovah and the worldly majority of the nation with reference to the approaching return to the Holy Land, is continued here. As the idea of their return is associated immediately with that of the erection of a new temple, there is nothing at all to surprise us, after what we have read in Isaiah 65:8., in the fact that Jehovah expresses His abhorrence at the thought of having a temple built by the Israel of the captivity, as the majority then were, and does so in such words as those which follow in Isaiah 66:1-4 : "Thus saith Jehovah: The heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool. What kind of house is it that ye would build me, and what kind of place for my rest? My hand hath made all these things; then all these thing arose, saith Jehovah; and at such persons do I look, at the miserable and broken-hearted, and him that trembleth at my word. He that slaughtereth the ox is the slayer of a man; he that sacrificeth the sheep is a strangler of dogs; he that offereth a meat-offering, it is swine's blood; he that causeth incense to rise up in smoke, blesseth idols. As they have chosen their ways, and their soul cheriseth pleasure in their abominations; so will I choose their ill-treatments, and bring their terrors upon them, because I called and no one replied, I spake and they did not hear, and they did evil in mine eyes, and chose that in which I took no pleasure." Hitzig is of opinion that the author has broken off here, and proceeds quite unexpectedly to denounce the intention to build a temple for Jehovah. Those who wish to build he imagines to be those who have made up their minds to stay behind in Chaldea, and who, whilst their brethren who have returned to their native land are preparing to build a temple there, want to have one of their own, just as the Jews in Egypt built one for themselves in Leontopolis. Without some such supposition as this, Hitzig thinks it altogether impossible to discover the thread which connects the different vv. together. This view is at any rate better than that of Umbreit, who imagines that the prophet places us here "on the loftiest spiritual height of the Christian development." "In the new Jerusalem," he says, "there will be no temple seen, nor any sacrifice; Jehovah forbids these in the strongest terms, regarding them as equivalent to mortal sins." But the prophet, if this were his meaning, would involve himself in self-contradiction, inasmuch as, according to Isaiah 56:1-12 and 60, there will be a temple in the new Jerusalem with perpetual sacrifice, which this prophecy also presupposes in Isaiah 66:20. (cf., Isaiah 66:6); and secondly, he would contradict other prophets, such as Ezekiel and Zechariah, and the spirit of the Old Testament generally, in which the statement, that whoever slaughters a sacrificial animal in the new Jerusalem will be as bad as a murderer, has no parallel, and is in fact absolutely impossible. According to Hitzig's view, on the other hand, v. 3a affirms, that the worship which they would be bound to perform in their projected temple would be an abomination to Jehovah, however thoroughly it might be made to conform to the Mosaic ritual. But there is nothing in the text to sustain the idea, that there is any intention here to condemn the building of a temple to Jehovah in Chaldaea, nor is such an explanation by any means necessary to make the text clear. The condemnation on the part of Jehovah has reference to the temple, which the returning exiles intend to build in Jerusalem. The prophecy is addressed to the entire body now ready to return, and says to the whole without exception, that Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth, does not stand in need of any house erected by human hands, and then proceeds to separate the penitent from those that are at enmity against God, rejects in the most scornful manner all offerings in the form of worship on the part of the latter, and threatens them with divine retribution, having dropped in Isaiah 66:3-4 the form of address to the entire body. Just as in the Psalm of Asaph (Psalm 50) Jehovah refuses animal and other material offerings as such, because the whole of the animal world, the earth and the fulness thereof, are His possession, so here He addresses this question to the entire body of the exiles: What kind of house is there that ye could build, that would be worthy of me, and what kind of place that would be worthy of being assigned to me as a resting-place? On mâqōm menūchâthı̄, locus qui sit requies mea (apposition instead of genitive connection). He needs no temple; for heaven is His throne, and the earth His footstool. He is the Being who filleth all, the Creator, and therefore the possessor, of the universe; and if men think to do Him a service by building Him a temple, and forget His infinite majesty in their concern for their own contemptible fabric, He wants to temple at all. "All these" refer, as if pointing with the finger, to the world of visible objects that surround us. ויּהיוּ (from היה, existere, fieri) is used in the same sense as the ויהי which followed the creative יהי. In this His exaltation He is not concerned about a temple; but His gracious look is fixed upon the man who is as follows (zeh pointing forwards as in Isaiah 58:6), viz., upon the mourner, the man of broken heart, who is filled with reverential awe at the word of His revelation.

We may see from Psalm 51:9 what the link of connection is between Isaiah 66:2 and Isaiah 66:3. So far as the mass of the exiles were concerned, who had not been humbled by their sufferings, and whom the preaching of the prophet could not bring to reflection, He did not want any temple or sacrifice from them. The sacrificial acts, to which such detestable predicates are here applied, are such as end with the merely external act, whilst the inward feelings of the person presenting the sacrifice are altogether opposed to the idea of both the animal sacrifice and the meat-offering, more especially to that desire for salvation which was symbolized in all the sacrifices; in other words, they are sacrificial acts regarded as νεκρὰ ἔργα, the lifeless works of men spiritually dead. The articles of hasshōr and hasseh are used as generic with reference to sacrificial animals. The slaughter of an ox was like the slaying (makkēh construct with tzere) of a man (for the association of ideas, see Genesis 49:6); the sacrifice (zōbhēăch like shâchat is sometimes applied to slaughtering for the purpose of eating; here, however, it refers to an animal prepared for Jehovah) of a sheep like the strangling of a dog, that unclean animal (for the association of ideas, see Job 30:1); the offerer up (me‛ōlēh) of a meat-offering (like one who offered up) swine's blood, i.e., as if he was offering up the blood of this most unclean animal upon the altar; he who offered incense as an 'azkârâh (see at Isaiah 1:13) like one who blessed 'âven, i.e., godlessness, used here as in 1 Samuel 15:23, and also in Hosea in the change of the name of Bethel into Beth 'Aven, for idolatry, or rather in a concrete sense for the worthless idols themselves, all of which, according to Isaiah 41:29, are nothing but 'âven. Rosenmller, Gesenius, Hitzig, Stier, and even Jerome, have all correctly rendered it in this way, "as if he blessed an idol" (quasi qui benedicat idolo); and Vitringa, "cultum exhibens vano numini" (offering worship to a vain god). Such explanations as that of Luther, on the other hand, viz., "as if he praised that which was wrong," are opposed to the antithesis, and also to the presumption of a concrete object to מברך (blessing); whilst that of Knobel, "praising vainly" ('âven being taken as an acc. Adv.), yields too tame an antithesis, and is at variance with the usage of the language. In this condemnation of the ritual acts of worship, the closing prophecy of the book of Isaiah coincides with the first (Isaiah 1:11-15). But that it is not sacrifices in themselves that are rejected, but the sacrifices of those whose hearts are divided between Jehovah and idols, and who refuse to offer to Him the sacrifice that is dearest to Him (Psalm 51:19, cf., Psalm 50:23), is evident from the correlative double-sentence that follows in Isaiah 66:3 and Isaiah 66:4, which is divided into two masoretic verses, as the only means of securing symmetry. Gam ... gam, which means in other cases, "both ... and also," or in negative sentences "neither ... nor," means here, as in Jeremiah 51:12, "as assuredly the one as the other," in other words, "as ... so." They have chosen their own ways, which are far away from those of Jehovah, and their soul has taken pleasure, not in the worship of Jehovah, but in all kinds of heathen abominations (shiqqūtsēhem, as in many other places, after Deuteronomy 29:16); therefore Jehovah wants no temple built by them or with their co-operation, nor any restoration of sacrificial worship at their hands. But according to the law of retribution, He chooses tha‛ălūlēhem, vexationes eorum (lxx τὰ ἐμπαίγματα αὐτῶν: see at Isaiah 3:4), with the suffix of the object: fates that will use them ill, and brings their terrors upon them, i.e., such a condition of life as will inspire them with terror (megūrōth, as in Psalm 34:5).

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