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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Isaiah 66

Verses 1-24

The Genesis of Delusions

Isaiah 66:4

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/isaiah-66.html. 1910.