Isaiah 64:1-2. Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth,
Or, much better, “as when the brushwood burneth”; for if God does but come to his people, they are ready to catch the flame, like the dry heather which is soon ablaze; and his enemies also shall be like brushwood before the fire.
Isaiah 64:2-3. The fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou comest down, the mountain flowed down at thy presence.
O Lord, come again! Thou didst come in the past; repeat thy former acts, and let us see what thou canst do for the avenging of thy people.
Isaiah 64:4. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
God is ready to help. He has everything in preparation before our needs begin. He has laid in supplies for all our wants. Before our prayers are presented, he has prepared his answers to them; blessed be his name! You remember how Paul uses this passage, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” The spiritual man is a privileged man.
Isaiah 64:5. Thou meet him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways:
God does not wait for us to return to him. He meets us. He comes to us the moment that we turn our feet towards his throne. While we are, like the prodigal, a great way off, he sees us, and has compassion upon us, and runs to meet us.
Isaiah 64:5. Behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance,and we shall be saved.
In thy faithfulness, in thy love, in thyself, in thy ways of mercy there is continuance. This is our safety. What are we? Here is the answer: —
Isaiah 64:6. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
It is not a flattering picture that the prophet draws. Even our righteousness are like filthy rags, fit only for the fire; what must our righteousness be like? We, ourselves, are like the sere leaves on the trees; and just as the wind carries away the faded leaves of autumn, so our sins, like a mighty blast, carry us away.
Isaiah 64:7-8. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee:
That is a wonderful description of prayer. When a man rouses himself from sinful lethargy, and stirs himself up to take hold of God in prayer, he will become an Israel, a prince prevailing with God.
Isaiah 64:8. For thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, thou art our father;
Adoption does not come to an end because of sin. Regeneration or sonship does not die out; it cannot die out. I am my father’s son, and so I always shall be; and if I am my heavenly Father’s son, I shall never cease to be so.
“Now, O Lord, thou art our Father!” This truth must not be perverted into an argument for sinning; it ought rather to keep us from sinning, lest we should grieve such wondrous love.
Isaiah 64:8-12. We are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wrath very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. The holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?
The prophet touches the minor key, and weeps and wails for the sorrows of his people; but he does not neglect to pray. In the next chapter God breaks out, and says, “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not.” How much more quickly is he found of them who do seek him! Verily, God does hear prayer; and he will hear prayer; let us not cease to pray to him as we look round on the sad state of the professing church at this time, and with Isaiah let us cry, “Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?”