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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64

Verses 1-12

Chapter 64

Oh that you would rend the heavens, that you would come down, and that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burns, the fire causes the waters to boil, and makes thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When you did awesome things which we looked not for, you came down, and the mountains flowed down at thy presence. 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 waits for him ( Isaiah 64:1-23.64.4 ).

Now he's praying, "God, why don't You manifest Yourself like You did in the past? When people saw Your power, the glory of Your power?" Now God is. In the thirty-eighth chapter of the book of Ezekiel when God speaks of His fury rising in His face to destroy the invading Russian army as they come into Israel, He said, "And I will be sanctified before the nations of the earth and they will know that I am God when I have destroyed thee, O Gog"( Ezekiel 38:16 ). So God once more will move. Now in prayer Isaiah is praying for this day that God would move once again. Come and let the mountains flow down before His presence. The awesome things that He did and He will do them again. Now verse 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 You have prepared for him who waits for You." Oh, the things that God has prepared for those that just wait on Him.

Our problem is that we don't wait on God. We get so impatient. We want to see things done. Like Abraham, we know what God wants to do and so we go about to help God out. And that's always tragic. Oh, the things that God has prepared for those that wait. You remember Paul said something like this in Corinthians, and no doubt he was making reference to this passage here in Isaiah, for Paul said, "As the scriptures saith, 'Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.' But He has revealed them unto us by His Spirit" ( 1 Corinthians 2:9-46.2.10 ). Paul's talking about the natural man, the spiritual man. The natural man doesn't understand anything about the Spirit. He doesn't know the things of the Spirit. He can't know the things of the Spirit because they're spiritually discerned. Yet he which is spiritual understands all things, though he is not understood. But in talking about the contrast between the natural man and the spiritual man, he says, "The eyes have not seen, ears have not heard; neither has it entered into the hearts of man the things that God has prepared for those that love Him." But God has begun to reveal them unto us by His Spirit.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians that God would grant unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding that they might know what is the hope of their calling. Oh, if you only knew what God has in store for us as His children. If you only knew the glory of the kingdom. It is so marvellous, it is so beyond anything that we in our own imaginations could conceive or devise. It is so glorious that when Paul got a little view of the thing, got a little taste of it, taken up into the third heaven and there heard these glorious things that were so marvellous it would be a crime to try to describe them in human language. And it was so glorious that Paul said, "It was necessary that God give to me a thorn in the flesh to keep me on the ground lest I be exalted above measure because of these revelations that were given unto me. It was just so fantastic I just... God had to keep me on the ground and I just... live in that heavenly vision and realm." So because of the abundance of Lord's revelation, because it's so glorious, this old thorn in the ground to just remind me I'm still human. But that desire from then on. I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better. And that yearning. If you only knew the things that God has prepared.

Now God has begun to reveal them to us by His Spirit. But yet Paul's prayer, "That you might have the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that you might know what is the hope of your calling." If you only knew what God had for you, you couldn't be happy or satisfied with these worldly things anymore. You like Paul would just... People say, "You're so heavenly-minded, you're no earthly good." Well, I've never yet met that person, in all honesty. I think that we're too earthly-minded to be any heavenly good, for the most part. I wish we were more heavenly-minded. I wish that we were more looking towards what God has prepared for those that love Him, because then our perspective would be better, as far as the things of the world, and we wouldn't get so deeply involved in the things that are going to perish. But we would be more involved in those things that are eternal. "We look not," Paul said, "at the things which are seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But we look at those things which cannot be seen, for they are eternal" ( 2 Corinthians 4:18 ). We have our eyes upon the unseen; the things of the Spirit is revealed of God's glorious kingdom. Oh, you get restless in this world in which you live and you just want to keep a light touch on the earth. "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 has prepared for those that wait on Him." Oh God, help us to just wait on Him.

Continuing his prayer:

You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art angry; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean thing, for 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 ( Isaiah 64:5-23.64.6 ).

Now he is not trying to justify himself before God, which we so often do in our prayers. Many a time in our prayers, our prayers are an attempt to explain to God why we're so rotten, to justify ourselves. Like Adam, "Lord, the woman that You gave me to be my wife. That's my problem, Lord." And we're trying to justify ourselves, laying the blame somewhere else. The Bible says, "He that seeks to justify himself will not be cleansed, but whoso confesseth his sin shall be forgiven" ( Proverbs 28:13 ). Now if you'll notice in Daniel's prayer, and we'll get there in a few months, Daniel also confessed the sin and the sin of the people. "Lord, You're righteous in what You have done. We are at fault. We are guilty, God." And it is important when we come to God that we come open-faced and open-handed. "God, I'm guilty!" And put yourself on the mercy of God rather than through your prayers trying to explain to God all of the extenuating circumstances that caused you to do your transgression. God is not interested in that. He's only interested in the confession of guilt. "Lord, we're wrong. God, we have sinned. And all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in Thy sight."

I look at man, poor man, parading about in his righteousnesses. "Well, I do my best to do unto others as I would have them to do unto me. I give to the Red Cross and I give to the United Fund and I spend an hour a week in my charitable activities." And men try to clothe themselves in their little good deeds. And they parade around in such pomp and all in their good deeds. They get their pictures in the paper doing their good deeds. God says it's all filthy rags. It stinks. Our righteousnesses.

Now Paul the apostle said, "If any man has whereof to boast in his own works, in the law, I have more than the rest of you. You want to be righteous by keeping the law? Hey, I've got you beat hands down. See, I was a Jew. I was circumcised the eighth day. I'm from the tribe of Benjamin. I was a Pharisee. I was very zealous concerning the law. In fact, as far as the righteousness which is of the law, I was perfect. I've done it all. Yet those things which were gain to me I counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ for whom I suffer the loss of all things but count them but refuse that I may know Him and be found in Him. Not having my own righteousness which is of the law but having now the righteousness which is of Christ through faith." My righteousness is as filthy rags.

But in Revelation chapter 17, again, he sees the bride adorned for her husband and she is clothed in fine linen, pure and clean. And the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ which God has imputed to me by my faith in Jesus Christ. And that's what Paul was talking about. I took off my old rags. That which was gain to me, as far as the law was concerned, is refuse. It's stinky. I want to be found clothed in the righteousness which is of Christ through faith. The new robes of righteousness that I have in Christ. So here, our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in God's sight.

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. But now, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter ( Isaiah 64:7-23.64.8 );

Three times in the Bible the figure of the potter and the clay are used to describe the sovereignty of God in His relationship with man. Jeremiah, and Paul the apostle uses the same figure. Paul uses it in emphasizing the sovereignty of God and says, "Can the clay say to the potter, 'Hey, how come you put that shape in me? I don't like that.' No, the clay has no power over what it's going to be. That's all in the hands and the mind of the potter. He has total sovereignty over the clay." Now that could be very frightening if you didn't know the potter. But because I know the Potter, I know that whatever He wants to make of me is the best for me. I have absolute confidence in the Potter. To yield myself to Him, because the only way I can discover what is in the Potter's mind is by yielding to the Potter. So, "Thou art the Potter, we're the clay."

and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not angry very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem is 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? will you hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore? ( Isaiah 64:8-23.64.12 ) "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 64". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.