The Messiah in Isaiah (Part 5): Isaiah 64:1-9
Isaiah’s Messiah (part 1): Isaiah 64:1-9
Isaiah 64:1ff Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down . . . 64:5 You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. Behold, You were angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time; And shall we be saved? 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 64:7 There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.
The Community Longing for Advent. This text is a (prophetic) prayer of the Remnant of Israel/Judah (in the exile). It is set in a time when, “the Sanctuary” has been “trodden down” by adversaries (63:18). Thus, these longings for the Advent of God were set during those days after the Babylonian Exile, after the Temple and Jerusalem lay in ruins, calling on God for deliverance and restoration. Destruction often precedes deliverance.
The Collect Longing for Advent. This collect-prayer or plea begins in Is. 63:15: “Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation.” “For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us” (63:16). It is an example of a central theme in Is. 40-66 in calling for the Covenant Lord to “Return for the sake of Your servants and heritage...” to Zion (63:17). The lament is that “We have become like those over whom You have never ruled” (63:19). The second plea to “come down” arises (64:1). God is implored to open up the heavens and come down as in the past (Sinai) when “You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence” (64:3), when He gave revelation and purpose to His people. Prayer precedes deliverance.
The Confirmation Longing for Advent. God fulfills His covenant promises but not in an unqualified way. There is confirmation for the pleading remnant: “You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways” (64:5). What is the character of these covenant keepers: a) They acknowledge their perversity famously in the words, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” v6. b) They acknowledge their powerlessness, “all of us wither like a leaf” v6. c) They acknowledge their lack of perseverance, “There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You” v7. d) They plea with God, yielding themselves to a Sovereign Covenant Keeping Lord, “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand” v8.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more