Isaiah 66:6
A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that renders recompense to his enemies.
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(6) A voice of noise . . .—The form reminds us of Isaiah 13:4. The words represent dramatically the wonder with which men will behold the great judgments of God, proceeding, as with the thunders of Sinai (Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16), from the city and the temple, that seemed to have been given over to destruction.

Isaiah 66:6. A voice of noise from the city, &c. — This is an expression of a prophetical ecstasy, in which the prophet hears the noise of the ruin of the city and temple sounding in his ears. This voice of noise comes not from the city only, but from the temple, wherein these formalists had so much gloried, and reposed so much confidence. There is a noise of soldiers slaying, and of the poor people shrieking or crying out. A voice of the Lord — Not in thunder, which is sometimes called the Lord’s voice, but that rendereth recompense to his enemies — Thus he expresses the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, as a thing at that time doing. Some think this prophecy was fulfilled, partly at least, in the prodigies which, according to Josephus, in his history of the Jewish wars, (lib. 7. cap. 12,) preceded the destruction of Jerusalem: that the eastern gate of the temple, which was of solid brass and very heavy, and was scarcely shut in an evening by twenty men, and was fastened by strong bars and bolts, was seen, at the sixth hour of the night, opened of its own accord, and could hardly be shut again: that before the setting of the sun, there were seen over all the country chariots and armies fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities: that at the feast of pentecost, as the priests were going into the inner temple by night, as usual, to attend their service, they heard first a motion and noise, and then a voice, as of a multitude, saying, Let us depart hence; and, what he reckons as the most terrible of all, that one Jesus, the son of Ananus, an ordinary country fellow, four years before the war began, and when the city was in peace and plenty, came to the feast of tabernacles, and ran crying up and down the streets day and night, A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the temple, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, a voice against all the people. The magistrates endeavoured by stripes and torture to restrain him; but he still cried with a mournful voice, Wo, wo to Jerusalem! This he continued to do for seven years and five months together, and especially at the great festivals; and he neither grew hoarse nor was tired, but went about the walls and cried with a loud voice, Wo, wo to the city, and to the people, and to the temple! and, as he added at last, Wo, wo also to myself! it happened that a stone from some sling or engine immediately struck him dead. It may be proper to remark here, that there is not a more creditable historian than Josephus, who relates these things, and who appeals to the testimony of those who saw and heard them. But, as Bishop Newton observes, it may add some weight to his relation, that Tacitus, the Roman historian, a heathen, also gives us a summary account of the same occurrence. He says, “There happened several prodigies. Armies were seen to engage in different parts of the sky — glittering arms appeared — the temple shone by the sudden fire of the clouds — the doors of the temple were suddenly thrown wide open — a voice, more than human, was heard, that the gods were departing, and, at the same time, a great motion as if departing.” See Tacitus’s Hist., book 5. page 217, in Lipsius’s edition.66:5-14 The prophet turns to those that trembled at God's word, to comfort and encourage them. The Lord will appear, to the joy of the humble believer, and to the confusion of hypocrites and persecutors. When the Spirit was poured out, and the gospel went forth from Zion, multitudes were converted in a little time. The word of God, especially his promises, and ordinances, are the consolations of the church. The true happiness of all Christians is increased by every convert brought to Christ. The gospel brings with it, wherever it is received in its power, such a river of peace, as will carry us to the ocean of boundless and endless bliss. Divine comforts reach the inward man; the joy of the Lord will be the strength of the believer. Both God's mercy and justice shall be manifested, and for ever magnified.A voice of noise from the city - That is, from the city of Jerusalem. The prophet sees in a vision a tumult in the city. He hears a voice that issues from the temple. His manner and language are rapid and hurried - such as a man would evince who should suddenly see a vast tumultuous assemblage, and hear a confused sound of many voices. There is also a remarkable abruptness in the whole description here. The preceding verse was calm and solemn. It was full of affectionate assurance of the divine favor to those whom the prophet saw to be persecuted. Here the scene suddenly changes. The vision passes to the agitating events which were occurring in the city and the temple, and to the great and sudden change which would be produced in the condition of the church of God. But to whom or what this refers has been a subject of considerable difference of opinion. Grotius understands it of the sound of triumph of Judas Maccabeus, and of his soldiers, rejoicing that the city was forsaken by Antiochus, and by the party of the Jews who adhered to him.

Rosenmuller understands it of the voice of God, who is seen by the prophet taking vengeance on his foes. There can be no doubt that the prophet, in vision, sees Yahweh taking recompence on his enemies - for that is expressly specified. Still it is not easy to determine the exact time referred to, or the exact scene which passes before the mind of the prophet. To me it seems probable that it is a scene that immediately preceded the rapid extension of the gospel, and the great and sudden increase of the church by the accession of the pagan world (see the following verses); and I would suggest, whether it is not a vision of the deeply affecting and agitating scenes when the temple and city were about to be destroyed by the Romans; when the voice of Yahweh would be heard in the city and at the temple, declaring the punishment which he would bring on those who had cast out and rejected the followers of the Messiah Isaiah 66:5; and when, as a result of this, the news of Salvation was to be rapidly spread throughout the pagan world.

This is the opinion, also, of Vitringa. The phrase rendered here 'a voice of noise' (שׁאון קול qôl shâ'ôn), means properly the voice of a tumultuous assemblage; the voice of a multitude. The word 'noise' (שׁאון shâ'ôn) is applied to a noise or roaring, as of waters Psalm 65:8; or of a crowd or multitude of people Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 24:8; and of war Amos 2:2; Hosea 10:14. Here it seems probable that it refers to the confused clamor of war, the battle cry raised by soldiers attacking an army or a city; and the scene described is probably that when the Roman soldiers burst into the city, scaled the walls, and poured desolation through the capital.

A voice from the temple - That is, either the tumultous sound of war already having reached the temple; or the voice of Yahweh speaking from the temple, and commanding destruction on his foes. Vitringa supposes that it may mean the voice of Yahweh breaking forth from the temple, and commanding his foes to be slain. But to whichever it refers, it doubtless means that the sound of the tumult was not only around the city, but in it; not merely in the distant parts, but in the very midst, and even at the temple.

A voice of the Lord that rendereth recompence - Here we may observe:

1. That it is recompence taken on those who had cast out their brethren Isaiah 66:5.

2. It is vengeance taken within the city, and on the internal, not the external enemies.

3. It is vengeance taken in the midst of this tumult.

All this is a striking description of the scene when the city and temple were taken by the Roman armies. It was the vengeance taken on those who had cast out their brethren; it was the vengeance which was to precede the glorious triumph of truth and of the cause of the true religion.

6. God, from Jerusalem and His "temple," shall take vengeance on the enemy (Eze 43:1-8; Zec 12:2, 3; 14:3, 19-21). The abrupt language of this verse marks the suddenness with which God destroys the hostile Gentile host outside: as Isa 66:5 refers to the confounding of the unbelieving Jews.

voice of noise—that is, the Lord's loud-sounding voice (Ps 68:33; 29:3-9; 1Th 4:16).

A voice of noise from the city; the expression of a prophetical ecstasy, as much as, Methinks I already hear

a voice of noise, rather a sad and affrighting noise, than the noise of triumphers (as some think); yea, it comes not from the city only, but from the temple, wherein these formalists have so much gloried, and reposed so much confidence. There is a noise of soldiers slaying, and of the priests or poor people fled thither shrieking or crying out.

A voice of the Lord; not in thunder, which is sometimes called so, Psalm 29:3-5, &c., but

that rendereth recompence to his enemies. Thus the noise of soldiers, the roaring of guns, the sound of drums and trumpets, are the voice of the Lord. Thus the prophet seemeth to express the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, as if a thing at that time doing. A voice of noise from the city,.... From the city of Jerusalem, as the Targum; so Kimchi, who says, that in the days of the Messiah shall go out of Jerusalem the voice of noise concerning Gog and Magog: this indeed respects the days of the Messiah, but such as are now past, and a voice of crying in the city of Jerusalem, at, the taking and destruction of it by the Romans; when were heard from it the noisy voices of the Roman soldiers, triumphing and rejoicing at it, and the shrieks of the inhabitants, running about from place to place for shelter; so when destruction and desolation are come upon any place, a voice or a cry is said to come from it; see Jeremiah 48:3,

a voice from the temple; either from heaven, as Aben Ezra; or rather from the temple at Jerusalem, of the priests there hindered from doing their service, and starving for want of sustenance; or of the people that fled thither for security, but forced from thence by the soldiers; and especially a voice of crying and lamentation was heard, when set on fire. Some illustrate this by what the priests heard in the temple a little before the destruction of it, a rustling and a noise like persons shifting and moving, and a voice in the holy of holies, saying, "let us go hence"; as also the words of Jesus the son of Ananus, a countryman, who went about uttering these words,

"a voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and against the temple, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, a voice against all the people:''

this he did before the war began, nor could he be persuaded to desist from it, but continued it afterwards; going on the walls of the city, saying,

"woe, woe to the city, and to the temple, and to the people, woe to myself also;''

and while he was speaking the last words, a stone, cast from a Roman engine, killed him, as Josephus (q) relates:

a voice of the Lord, that rendereth recompence to his enemies; for the Lord's voice was in all this, and his hand in the destruction of those people; it was according to his appointment, direction, and order, in righteous judgment for their sins, they being his implacable enemies, that would not have him to rule over them, Luke 19:14.

(q) De Bello Jud. I. 6. c. 5. sect. 3.

{g} A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.

{g} The enemies will shortly hear a more terrible voice, even fire and slaughter, seeing they would not hear the gentle voice of the prophets, who called them to repentance.

6. Description of the sudden outbreak of Jehovah’s destructive might from His city and sanctuary (cf. Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16; ch. Isaiah 33:14). A noise of uproar from the city! A noise from the temple! The noise of Jehovah rendering recompence (see on Isaiah 59:18) to His enemies! (those referred to in Isaiah 66:5). That these words presuppose the existence of the Temple is certainly the most natural interpretation. The thought of the verse is resumed in Isaiah 66:15-16; the verses immediately following pass abruptly to a different subject.Verse 6. - A voice of noise from the city... from the temple. The "city" and "temple" are suddenly in existence - they have sprung into being. The prophet sees Jerusalem rebuilt, restored, and hears sounds go forth from it - partly, perhaps, the sounds of ordinary city life; but amid these, there is a voice of the Lord, rendering recompense to his enemies. The Jewish state, restored by Zerubbabel, did, after a time, bring under subjection several of its ancient adversaries. And all around will peace and harmony prevail, even in the animal world itself. "Wolf and lamb then feed together, and the lion eats chopped straw like the ox, and the serpent-dust is its bread. They will neither do harm not destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah." We have frequently observed within chapters 40-66 (last of all at Isaiah 65:12, cf., Isaiah 66:4), how the prophet repeats entire passages from the earlier portion of his prophecies almost word for word. Here he repeats Isaiah 11:6-9 with a compendious abridgment. Isaiah 65:25 refers to the animals just as it does there. But whilst this custom of self-repetition favours the unity of authorship, כּאחד for יחדּו equals unâ, which only occurs elsewhere in Ezra and Ecclesiastes (answering to the Chaldee כּחדה), might be adduced as evidence of the opposite. The only thing that is new in the picture as here reproduced, is what is said of the serpent. This will no longer watch for human life, but will content itself with the food assigned it in Genesis 3:14. It still continues to wriggle in the dust, but without doing injury to man. The words affirm nothing more than this, although Stier's method of exposition gets more out, or rather puts more in. The assertion of those who regard the prophet speaking here as one later than Isaiah, viz., that Isaiah 65:25 is only attached quite loosely to what precedes, is unjust and untrue. The description of the new age closes here, as in chapter 11, with the peace of the world of nature, which stands throughout chapters 40-66 in the closest reciprocal relation to man, just as it did in chapters 1-39. If we follow Hahn, and change the animals into men by simply allegorizing, we just throw our exposition back to a standpoint that has been long passed by. But to what part of the history of salvation are we to look for a place for the fulfilment of such prophecies as these of the state of peace prevailing in nature around the church, except in the millennium? A prophet was certainly no fanatic, so that we could say, these are beautiful dreams. And if, what is certainly true, his prophecies are not intended to be interpreted according to the letter, but according to the spirit of the letter; the letter is the sheath of the spirit, as Luther calls it, and we must not give out as the spirit of the letter what is nothing more than a quid-pro-quo of the letter. The prophet here promises a new age, in which the patriarchal measure of human life will return, in which death will no more break off the life that is just beginning to bloom, and in which the war of man with the animal world will be exchanged for peace without danger. And when is all this to occur? Certainly not in the blessed life beyond the grave, to which it would be both absurd and impossible to refer these promises, since they presuppose a continued mixture of sinners with the righteous, and merely a limitation of the power of death, not its utter destruction. But when then? This question ought to be answered by the anti-millenarians. They throw back the interpretation of prophecy to a stage, in which commentators were in the habit of lowering the concrete substance of the prophecies into mere doctrinal loci communes. They take refuge behind the enigmatical character of the Apocalypse, without acknowledging that what the Apocalypse predicts under the definite form of the millennium is the substance of all prophecy, and that no interpretation of prophecy on sound principles is any longer possible from the standpoint of an orthodox antichiliasm, inasmuch as the antichiliasts twist the word in the mouths of the prophets, and through their perversion of Scripture shake the foundation of all doctrines, every one of which rests upon the simple interpretation of the words of revelation. But one objection may be made to the supposition, that the prophet is here depicting the state of things in the millennium; viz., that this description is preceded by an account of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. The prophet appears, therefore, to refer to that Jerusalem, which is represented in the Apocalypse as coming down from heaven to earth after the transformation of the globe. But to this it may be replied, that the Old Testament prophet was not yet able to distinguish from one another the things which the author of the Apocalypse separates into distinct periods. From the Old Testament point of view generally, nothing was known of a state of blessedness beyond the grave. Hades lay beyond this present life; and nothing was known of a heaven in which men were blessed. Around the throne of God in heaven there were angels and not men. And, indeed, until the risen Saviour ascended to heaven, heaven itself was not open to men, and therefore there was no heavenly Jerusalem whose descent to earth could be anticipated then. Consequently in the prophecies of the Old Testament the eschatological idea of the new Cosmos does unquestionably coincide with the millennium. It is only in the New Testament that the new creation intervenes as a party-wall between this life and the life beyond; whereas the Old Testament prophecy brings down the new creation itself into the present life, and knows nothing of any Jerusalem of the blessed life to come, as distinct from the new Jerusalem of the millennium. We shall meet with a still further illustration in chapter 66 of this Old Testament custom of reducing the things of the life to come within the limits of this present world.
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