ISAIAH CHAPTER 64.
(Chapter 63, 18 — 64, 12.)
A Prayer out of the Depths.
A PLEA FOR GOD’S INTERFERENCE. — V. 18. The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while, rather, “Down to a small remnant they,” the enemies, “possess Thy holy people,” using the inheritance of Israel to their own advantage. Our adversaries have trodden down Thy Sanctuary, not only the Temple proper, but the entire Holy City. V. 19. We are Thine; Thou never barest rule over them, they were not called by Thy name, or, in a circumscription suggested by the original, We have become as those over whom Thou hast not ruled, who are not called by Thy name, a complaint which places the present miserable position of Israel into the strongest contrast with the former happiness. Chap. 64, 1. Oh, that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, so the suppliant now begs the Lord, that Thou wouldest come down, bursting forth to execute vengeance, suddenly descending on Thy people’s foes, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence, the mightiest of His creatures being overcome by the revelation of His majesty, v. 2. as when the melting fire burneth, consuming brushwood in the twinkling of an eye, the fire causeth the waters to boil, literally, “as fire makes the water swell and seethe,” to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, with a powerful rage, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence, at the majestic revelation of His omnipotence. V. 3. When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, such as the visible coming of the Lord to the final Judgment will be, Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at Thy presence, with an unparalleled exhibition of His unexcelled might, transcending all human fantasy. V. 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, any God beside the one true God, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him, or, “who intercedes for those who rely upon Him in faith,” interfering in behalf of His children. St. Paul uses this verse, 1 Cor. 2, 9, in order to describe the mystery of the Gospel-message.
AN APPEAL TO JEHOVAH TO FORSAKE HIS WRATH. — V. 5. Thou meetest, in a friendly and kindly manner, him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, happy in observing the covenant faithfulness, those that remember Thee in Thy ways, doing His will with joyful willingness. Behold, Thou art wroth, He became angry, for we have sinned. In those is continuance, the persistence in sin being a punishment in itself, and we shall be saved, or, “how could we have been saved?“ The people having hardened their hearts, the Lord gave them up to their obstinacy, so that their deliverance seemed impossible. V. 6. But, or in consequence of this sad situation, we are all as an unclean thing, like the uncleanness of leprosy, and all our righteousnesses, all the deeds which men might consider righteous and laudable, are as filthy rags, loathsome objects, an abomination in His sight; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away, as dried leaves are heaped up for destruction. V. 7. And there is none that calleth upon Thy name, since unbelief and despair has taken hold of all hearts, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee, the great majority of the people being overwhelmed by a feeling of dumb resignation which excluded faith; for Thou hast hid Thy face from us, withdrawn His grace, and hast consumed us because of our iniquities, delivering them into the hand, into the power, of their iniquities, so that their guilt prepared the way to their destruction. Now, however, the suppliant once more changes His prayer to an urgent appeal: V. 8. But now, O Lord, in spite of the seriousness of the situation, Thou art our Father, He Himself had begotten them in mercy; we are the clay and Thou our Potter, who chose and molded the people for His purposes, and we all are the work of Thy hand, both Israel’s history and position being in the guidance of Jehovah. V. 9. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, not to the last extremity nor for eternity, neither remember iniquity forever. Behold, see, we beseech Thee, we are all Thy people, the believers relying upon the fact of their having been chosen by the Lord as His own. V. 10. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, this being a special appeal to the Lord to preserve His honor; Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation, all of which ought deeply to affect His heart and arouse Him to a holy zeal in changing conditions. V. 11. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee, the Temple in which the true worship had taken place, is burned up with fire, consumed by its flames; and all our pleasant things, the customs and everything connected with the cultus of the Jews, are laid waste, defiled by the heathen bands. V. 12. Wilt Thou refrain Thyself for these things, O Lord? holding back from coming to the assistance of His people. Wilt Thou hold Thy peace and afflict us very sore? continuing the act of humiliating His people to the very limit. We have here a powerful appeal to the boundless mercy of the Lord, together with the firm confidence that He will not let destruction overtake His people. Even so the believers of all times trust in the covenant mercy of Jehovah and appeal to His fatherly love in all their prayers.