One of those mornings where I feel a bit dry even after having sipped from the well of His Word. Nothing really coming to mind and so I go back through my journal and see what thoughts were stirred in previous years when I read these passages in my reading plan. And this morning, a bit of a surprise. Something I captured back in 2011 just seemed to be the encouragement I needed. Chewed on it this morning as I re-worked it a bit. God is good . . .
Part way through Isaiah 63 you kind of get the sense that the prophet “hits the wall.” It’s been 63 chapters detailing the sin of Israel and God’s determination to judge them via the violence and oppression of the nations surrounding them. And of God’s righteous judgment upon those nations who, while being His rod of judgment on wayward Israel, would not escape His wrath for their arrogance and vile behaviors.
And though Isaiah is also given a vision of the mercy of God and the restoration of Israel, informed of the promise of God to send His Holy Servant to redeem His people, he doesn’t really see that happen in his lifetime. Instead, he witnesses the destruction and the judgment of God. And then in Isaiah 63 it seems he pauses. He takes off his prophets hat and puts on his prayer shawl. He turns his face upward and cries out in need of God. And it seems to get very personal.
“Look down from heaven and see, from Your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are Your zeal and Your might? The stirring of Your inner parts and Your compassion are held back from me.”
(Isaiah 63:15 ESV)
At some point it’s hard for it not to become about us. While we know the promises of God . . . while we seek to rest in Him and trust Him and wait for Him, let’s not be surprised if there comes a time when we also find ourselves crying out, “Where are You?” We shouldn’t be shocked if, at some point, we find ourselves thinking, “God, I know You’re up there in Your holy and glorious dwelling place. But I need You to look down . . . or at least let me know You’re looking down.”
We can know the promises of God, but sometimes we just need to experience a bit of the presence of God. Isaiah knew that the Redeemer of Israel would eventually act on their behalf, He just wanted it now!!! And maybe not so much about acting on Israel’s behalf, but how about just a reminder that God cared for Isaiah?
Isaiah stood in the fiery ruins of what was once their holy and beautiful temple. He could look around and see that Zion was a wilderness and Jerusalem a desolation. All the physical glory of Israel was laid waste. (Isa. 64:10-11) He knew the promises of God–that one day He would restore all things–but, for right now, He just needed a bit of a reminder. He needed a bit of the presence of God while he waited for the promise of God.
Isn’t that what I need sometimes–a bit of the presence while I wait for the promise? A reminder of God’s zeal and heart for me? Some touch from heaven that assures me of His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me? Something that reminds me of His steadfast love so that I might confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.” (Heb. 13:5b-6)?
And so, like Isaiah, I can find myself also crying out . . .
“Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence . . . ”
(Isaiah 64:1 ESV)
Isaiah is so ready for the Mighty Redeemer of Israel to step on to the scene, intervene, and make things right. He has heard heaven declare that the glory of the Holy, Holy, Holy LORD of Hosts fills the whole earth (Isa 6:1-3), now he wants to see it. Now it’s time to “get ‘er done.” No more waiting . . . “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!”
Isaiah is looking for the Glorious Appearing of Christ to once for all do battle with His enemies and set up His kingdom of righteousness here on earth. He knows the promise . . . time for the Presence.
And I’m reminded that God has come down. That the heavens have been breached in Jesus’ first coming. That through His death and resurrection the curtain to the Holy of Holies has been rend from top to bottom. And that the need for a “bit of presence” is entirely within my reach. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)
Sin has been judged. The sinner declared righteous by faith. Heaven opened up. The Holy Spirit descended.
And I can look up . . . ask Him to look down and remind me of His thoughts to me . . . and through His Spirit inside me, know a bit of the presence.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
(Romans 8:16 ESV)
Oh, that I would have ears to hear the Spirit within me. That I would keep the way open for His still small voice to speak. That I would know a bit of the presence while I cling to the promise.
By His grace. For His glory.