Isaiah 66:15
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) With his chariots . . .—i.e., the storm-clouds sweeping on their way, while the lightnings and the winds do their work. (Comp. Psalm 18:10; Psalm 68:33)

Isaiah 66:15-16. For, behold, &c. — Here the prophet comes more particularly to show the nature of that indignation which should be exercised toward God’s enemies. The passage, it must be observed, is metaphorical, “exhibiting God as about to take vengeance on the enemies of his church, under the figure of a commander and warrior, as well as of a judge, armed at all points, severely to punish those who have provoked his indignation: see Isaiah 63:1, &c.; Revelation 18:8; and Revelation 14:20. Some suppose that this passage refers to the general judgment; but it is rather, according to the whole tenor of this prophecy, to be referred to the judgments of God upon the rebellious Jews, and upon the antichristian enemies of the church.” The Lord will come with fire — With terrible judgments: an allusion possibly to the fire with which enemies use to consume places brought under their power. And with his chariots — Like the general of a victorious army. With a whirlwind — With a sudden sweeping calamity, that, like a whirlwind, shall destroy all before it. To render his anger with fury — That is, with fervour; for fury, properly taken, is not in God, Isaiah 27:4. But God, at certain times, executes judgment more severely than at others. And his rebukes — By rebukes he means punishments, for it is said God will execute them with flames of fire — They had contemned the rebukes of the law, now God will rebuke them with fire and sword. For by fire, &c., will the Lord plead with all flesh — God at first pleads with sinners by word, but if he cannot so prevail, he will plead with them in a way by which he will overcome; by fire, pestilence, and blood. Thus he threatens to do with all flesh, that is, with all sinners continuing in sin, and especially with the impenitent and unbelieving Jews, who, being favoured with the oracles and ordinances of God, held the truth in unrighteousness, and abused their extraordinary privileges to their greater condemnation: see Romans 2:8-9. And the slain of the Lord shall be many — Those whom God should cause to be slain. This was awfully fulfilled in the destruction brought on the Jews by the Romans for crucifying the Messiah; no fewer than eleven hundred thousand, according to Josephus, perishing in the siege of Jerusalem, and at least three hundred thousand more during the war; not to mention the vast numbers that perished in caves, woods, wildernesses, common sewers, of whom no account could be taken; and the great slaughter made of them afterward in the wars waged against them by Adrian, when fifty of their strongest fortresses were razed, and nine hundred and eighty-five of their noblest towns were sacked, and consumed by fire. See note on Deuteronomy 28:62.

66:15-24 A prophetic declaration is given of the Lord's vengeance on all enemies of his church, especially that of all antichristian opposers of the gospel in the latter days. Ver.For behold, the Lord will come with fire - The Septuagint reads this 'As fire' (ὡς πύρ hōs pur). Fire is a common emblem to denote the coming of the Lord to judge and punish his enemies Psalm 50:3 :

Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence;

A fire shall devour before him,

And it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

So Habakkuk 2:5 :

Before him went the pestilence,

And burning coals went forth at his feet.

So Psalm 97:3 :

A fire goeth before him,

And burneth up his enemies round about.

So it is said 2 Thessalonians 1:8, that the Lord Jesus will be revealed 'in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God' (compare Hebrews 10:27; 2 Peter 3:7). So Yahweh is said to breathe out fire when he comes to destroy his foes:

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,

And fire out of his mouth devoured;

Coals were kindled by it.

15. (Isa 9:5; Ps 50:3; Hab 3:5; 2Th 1:8; 2Pe 3:7).

chariots … whirlwind—(Jer 4:13).

render—as the Hebrew elsewhere (Job 9:13; Ps 78:38) means to "allay" or "stay wrath." Maurer translates it so here: He stays His anger with nothing but fury," &c.; nothing short of pouring out all His fiery fury will satisfy His wrath.

fury—"burning heat" [Lowth], to which the parallel, "flames of fire," answers.

Here the prophet comes more particularly to expound what indignation should be showed towards his enemies.

The Lord will come with fire; that is, with terrible judgments, nothing being more terrible and wasting than fire; or with fire in a proper sense, understanding it of the fire with which enemies use to consume places brought under their power. With a whirlwind; with a sudden sweeping judgment that like a whirlwind shall destroy this people.

With fury; that is, with fervour; for fury properly so taken is not in God, Isaiah 27:4, but God sometimes executes justice and judgment more smartly and severely.

His rebukes: by rebukes he means punishments, for it is said God will execute them

with flames of fire. They had contemned the rebukes of his law, now God will rebuke them with fire and sword.

For, behold, the Lord will come with fire,.... Either with material fire, with which mystical Babylon or Rome shall be burnt, Revelation 18:8, or with indignation and wrath, which shall be poured out like fire, and be as intolerable and consuming as that:

and with his chariots like a whirlwind; making a great noise, and striking great terror; alluding to chariots in which men used formerly to fight:

to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire; a heap of words, to show the fierceness of his wrath, and how severe his rebuke of enemies will be; which will be not a rebuke in love, as of his own people, but in a way of vindictive wrath.

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to {q} render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

(q) This vengeance God began to execute at the destruction of Babylon and has always continued it against the enemies of his Church, and will do till the last day, which will be the accomplishment of it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. with fire] in fire. Cf. Deuteronomy 5:22 ff.

and his chariots shall be like the whirlwind (R.V.)] Cf. Habakkuk 3:8; Psalm 68:17. The image is derived from the storm-clouds on which Jehovah rides; ch. Isaiah 19:1; Psalm 18:10; Psalm 68:33; Deuteronomy 33:26. The phrase is applied in Jeremiah 4:13 to the Chaldæans (or Scythians).

15, 16. In fire and tempest—the accompaniments of the theophany—Jehovah will appear to take vengeance on His enemies. There is a connexion with the last clause of Isaiah 66:14; but the passage reads like a continuation of Isaiah 66:6. Comp. ch. Isaiah 29:6, Isaiah 30:27 ff.; Psalms 50, 3.

Verses 15-18. - THE VENGEANCE WHICH GOD WILL TAKE ON HIS ENEMIES. A signal outpouring of God's vengeance upon his enemies precedes the settlement of the Church in its final glorious condition, both in Isaiah and in the Revelation of St. John (see ch. 34, 35, and Revelation 19-21.). The wicked have to be removed before the righteous can be established in peace. Here the agencies employed against the wicked are "fire" and "sword" - fire pointing (as Delitzsch remarks) to destructive occurrences of nature, and the sword to destructive occurrences of history. God himself is represented as guiding and directing both agencies, to the punishment of the ungodly and the relief of those who trust in him. Verse 15. - Behold, the Lord will come with fire. "Fire" is a usual accompaniment of a "theophany." God descended on Sinai "in fire" (Exodus 19:18), and led the Israelites through the wilderness by the pillar of the cloud and of fire (Exodus 13:21, 22), and filled the tabernacle with a glory as of fire (Exodus 40:34), and "answered David from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering" (1 Chronicles 21:26), and in the same way answered Solomon (2 Chronicles 7:1) and Elijah (1 Kings 18:38). Isaiah almost always describes a theophany as a "coming with fire" (see Isaiah 10:16-18; Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27, 30; Isaiah 33:12, 14, etc.). The agency of fire in the judgment that will overtake the wicked simultaneously with Christ's second coming, appears in 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Peter 3:7-10. With his chariots (comp. Psalm 68:17; Habakkuk 3:8). "Chariots," in the plural, may be regarded as symbolizing the "hosts" of natural and supernatural forces that God has at his command (Cheyne). Like a whirlwind. The whirring of the wheels of chariots, their noise, the swiftness of their pace, and the destruction that they cause, make this simile most appropriate. To render his anger; or, to expend his anger - to vent it. Isaiah 66:15The prophecy now takes a new turn with the thought expressed in the words, "and fiercely does He treat His enemies." The judgment of wrath, which prepares the way for the redemption and ensures its continuance, is described more minutely in Isaiah 66:15 : "For behold Jehovah, in the fire will He come, and His chariots are like the whirlwind, to pay out His wrath in burning heat, and His threatening passeth into flames of fire." Jehovah comes bâ'ēsh, in igne (Jerome; the lxx, on the contrary, render it arbitrarily ὡς πῦρ kâ'ēsh), since it is the fiery side of His glory, in which He appears, and fire pours from Him, which is primarily the intense excitement of the powers of destruction within God Himself (Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 30:27; Psalm 18:9), and in these is transformed into cosmical powers of destruction (Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:30; Psalm 18:13). He is compared to a warrior, driving along upon war-chariots resembling stormy wind, which force everything out of their way, and crush to pieces whatever comes under their wheels. The plural מרכּבתיו (His chariots) is probably not merely amplifying, but a strict plural; for Jehovah, the One, can manifest Himself in love or wrath in different places at the same time. The very same substantive clause מרכבתיו וכסופה occurs in Jeremiah 4:13, where it is not used of Jehovah, however, but of the Chaldeans. Observe also that Jeremiah there proceeds immediately with a derivative passage from Habakkuk 1:8. In the following clause denoting the object, אפּו בּחמה להשׁיב, we must not adopt the rendering, "to breathe out His wrath in burning heat" (Hitzig), for hēshı̄bh may mean respirare, but not exspirare (if this were the meaning, it would be better to read להשּׁיב from נשׁב, as Lowth does); nor "ut iram suam furore sedet" (Meier), for even in Job 9:13; Psalm 78:38, עפו השיב does not mean to still or cool His wrath, but to turn it away or take it back; not even "to direct His wrath in burning heat" (Ges., Kn.), for in this sense hēshı̄bh would be connected with an object with ל, אל (Job 15:13), על (Isaiah 1:25). It has rather the meaning reddere in the sense of retribuere (Arab. athâba, syn. shillēm), and "to pay back, or pay out, His wrath" is equivalent to hēshı̄bh nâqâm (Deuteronomy 32:41, Deuteronomy 32:43), Hence עפו בחמה does not stand in a permutative relation instead of a genitive one (viz., in fervore, riâ suâ equals irae suae), but is an adverbial definition, just as in Isaiah 42:25. That the payment of the wrath deserved takes place in burning heat, and His rebuke (ge‛ârâh) in flames of fire, are thoughts that answer to one another.
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