For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

64:1. “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,”

Isaiah, continuing to act as spokesman for the nation, pleads with God to manifest Himself as the omnipotent God of Israel.

64:2. “As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thy adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!”

64:3. “When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.”

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.”

The NEB translates these verses, “Why didst thou not rend the heavens and come down, and make the mountains shudder before thee as when fire blazes up in brushwood, or fire makes water boil? Then would thy name be known to thy enemies, and nations tremble at thy coming. When thou didst terrible things that we did not look for, the mountains shuddered before thee. Never has ear heard or eye seen any other god taking the part of those who wait for him.”

The Liberty Bible Commentary notes that ”This is Isaiah’s appeal for God’s direct intervention into the affairs of Israel. The figure here is one of significance .... Israel felt itself to be separated from the world beyond by a thick party-wall, resembling an impenetrable black cloud.” Isaiah appeals to God to split or tear apart that separating cloud. He desires for the mountains to flow down. This would indicate the melting of the mountains, and as a result, the judgment fire of God. The reference to clouds and the Lord splitting the clouds definitely points to the second coming of Christ. “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him ... ” (Rev 1:7). The melting of mountains is also indicated when the Lord returns: “... and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” 2 Pe 3:10.

64:5. “Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.”

Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “You welcome those who cheerfully do good, who follow godly ways. But we are not godly; we are constant sinners and have been all our lives. Therefore Your wrath is heavy on us. How can such as we be saved?”

This contrite confession of guilt must precede any expectation of blessing, for God will not bless until sin is confessed, repented of, and forsaken.

64:6. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities like the wind, have taken us away.”

Confession of sin continues here with the acknowledgement of just how utterly vile they were: they had become as unclean as a discarded menstruous cloth: they were like withered leaves dried and dead, blown away by the wind.

Such complete honest confession of guilt and utter worthlessness must be made by every sinner who would be saved. To retain the thought that I have even one shred of righteousness automatically excludes me from the company of those whom God saves.

64:7. “And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.”

Israel was about to learn that the complete abnegation acknowledged here was the very confession to which God would respond by pardoning their sin, and pouring out His blessing. The same principle governs His dealings with men today.

64:8. “But thou, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand.”

As every human father is invested with the right to control his children, and rear them in the nurture and fear of God, so does God have the right to control men, and teach them to obey His will and be blessed, or to disobey and be chastened.

64:9. “Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.”

The AAT version of this verse reads, “Be not angry, O Lord, beyond measure, nor remember our guilt for ever.”

This plea calls to mind the awful reality of God’s refusing to answer this prayer, and of the solemn warning against provoking Him to remember our guilt for ever, as it is written, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29; and again, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31.

Israel may have imagined herself utterly abandoned by God, but the truth is that it is to just such confession of worthless that He responds with His gracious offer of pardon, and gift of eternal life.

64:10. “Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.”

Only the spiritually blind will fail to see in this a typological picture of today’s professing but apostate Christianity, the imposing facade of which blinds the beholder to the inward spiritual corruption and ruin.

64:11. “Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.”

The description applies to today’s Christendom just as much as to the Jerusalem pictured by the prophet.

64:12. “Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?”

The Jerusalem Bible translates this, “Yahweh, can you go unmoved by all of this, oppressing us beyond measure by your silence?”

Acknowledgement of guilt would have been more fitting than this ascription of injustice to God. Had they received their just deserts He would have banished them into hell. And so is it today, not just with an utterly corrupt society, but with professing apostate Christendom



[Isaiah 65]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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