Isaiah 64:1-9 is part of a lament that begins with Isaiah 63:7. Dennis Bratcher defines a lament as a prayer that cries out to God with desperation because of grief, pain, or circumstances that seem out of control. The first part of the lament covers Isaiah 63:7-19. In these verses, Isaiah’s petition to God stresses praise to God for His past help of His people. Isaiah refers to God as a redeemer, a Savior, one who shows mercy and love to His people. These verses seem to imply that Isaiah is trying to play on the Lord’s sympathies by reminding God of the times when He had come to the aid of His people. Near the end of Isaiah 63, the verses begin to question God’s lack of response to His people’s current predicament.
Isaiah 64 continues the lament, but in a more demanding way. Gone is the plea for God to respond to the people’s need. Isaiah 64:1 borders on a demand that God show His power and come to their aid immediately. Isaiah wants God to demonstrate His concern by saving the people from the turmoil that they are experiencing. There is even cajoling by asserting the power that God always had, i.e. verse 4b “… no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait on Him.” Yet Isaiah’s words also speak truth by admitting that God’s people have sinned.
The focal verse, Isaiah 64:8, demonstrates resolution in Isaiah’s petition. Isaiah confesses that God can shape the people in any way He chooses. God is in control and has power over everything. Isaiah concludes that though he can petition God with any number of claims, God responds in His own way and own time.
As we celebrate this Advent season, we recognize that there are situations that are impossible for us to change. We feel overwhelmed by what is going on in the world today – wars, natural disasters, feuding nations, genocide, corrupt politics, incurable diseases, poverty, and more. We pray each day for God’s deliverance. But we need to understand that God is aware of these situations, and we must believe that He is at work. We may not be able to see the tangibles of God’s work, but our faith tells us that God is at work. As we celebrate the Savior’s birth, we need to reflect on the hope it brings to each of us, and we need to confess as Isaiah did: “We are all the work of Your hand.”
Prayer: Lord, I pray that this season will be one that brings us renewed hope that peace will come into our midst and that we will each do our part in bringing about this peace by living in Your Word. Amen.
Phyllis Edwards – 2017