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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 64

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

ISAIAH - CHAPTER 64

THE PRAYER AND ASPIRATION OF THE REMNANT

This is a continuation of the note of discouragement on which Chapter 63 ended. So discouraged are the people of God that they feel as though God never bare rule over them, or claimed them as His own. Verse 1 of this chapter should actually be attached to the end of Chapter 63 - being a spontaneous prayer springing out of their deep perplexity and affliction.

Vs. 1-5a: PAST MERCIES A BASIS FOR SUPPLICATION

1. Here is an appeal for God’s help; in the midst of sore trouble, they pray for revival; in His wrath, they desire that He remember to be merciful, (vs. 1-2; Habakkuk 3:2; Ezekiel 39:7).

2. Because the enemy has so sorely tried them, they yearn for the Lord to manifest His marvelous power, and visible presence, in their behalf, (comp. Psalms 18:19; Psalms 144:5-8).

a. It is for judgment that they want Him to come down -judgment upon their oppressors by direct intervention, (Micah 1:3-4; Habakkuk 3:13).

b. Though the people of God are ever to walk by faith, rather than sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), there is always a temptation to urge God to act more quickly! "How long" inquire the afflicted, from age to age, (Psalms 13:1-2; Psalms 35:17; Psalms 79:5; Psalms 89:46; Psalms 90:13; etc.).

3. Though the nations mock and rage against God, they will all tremble before the brilliant manifestation of His glorious and holy body-presence, (vs. 2b; Psalms 2:1-3; Psalms 99:1-3; Psalms 106:22; Jeremiah 33:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).

4. As Mt Sinai shook at His presence; so kings and kingdoms will be humbled, and reduced to trembling, before Him at His coming, (Exodus 19:18; Psalms 66:3-5).

5. The God of Israel waits to bless; nor has man ever seen, perceived or heard what He has prepared for those who wait for Him, (vs. 4; Psalms 31:19-21; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 30:18-21; Isaiah 40:31).

6. He ever blesses those who, remembering His ways, rejoice to walk uprightly before Him, (vs. 5a; Exodus 20:24; Isaiah 26:12-13; Isaiah 63:7; Isaiah 56:1; Isaiah 40:8).

a. Joy in the Lord’s fellowship is the secret of effective Christian service, (comp. Nehemiah 8:10).

b. The Lord takes great delight in those who joyfully reverence His name, (Malachi 3:16-18).

c. And it should ever be the desire of the Lord’s people to know Him more intimately, (Philippians 3:7-11).

Vs. 5b-7: AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SIN-GUILT

1. In the midst of verse 5 Isaiah identifies himself with his people who have long continued in sin, (comp. Daniel 9:3-11; Nehemiah 9:16-27).

a. Sin has brought the wrath of God upon the nation, (Isaiah 63:10).

b. "Shall we be saved?" suggests the prophets recognition that the people have no right to expect deliverance on the basis of any action or merit of their own.

2. Then he confesses the uncleanness of the entire nation; what they have assumed to be "righteousness’." is as "filthy rags" in the sight of God, (vs. 6; Isaiah 6:5; Job 15:14-16; Psalms 51:5; Psalms 58:3; Isaiah 46:12; Isaiah 48:1; Ephesians 2:3) - nor will the flesh-righteousness of ANY man find acceptance before Him! (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-10).

a. Thus, do they "fade as a leaf", wilt, or turn pale, even in their own eyes, (Isaiah 1:30; Psalms 90:5-9).

b. Their iniquities, like the wind, have carried them away from God, (Psalms 1:4; Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 59:2; comp. Jeremiah 4:11-14).

3. No longer does any among them really pray, (Isaiah 59:4; comp. Ezekiel 22:30), or lay hold on God through faith, (vs. 7a; Isaiah 27:5; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:4).

4. Therefore, God has hidden His face from them (Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 54:8; comp. Deuteronomy 31:18) - delivering them to the mastery of such iniquities as they have deliberately chosen, (Isaiah 9:19; Ezekiel 22:18-22; comp. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

Verses 8-12

Vs. 8-12: A FINAL SUPPLICATION

Though this may have reference to the attitude of the nation in the midst of the Babylonian captivity, its ultimate fulfillment is to be found at the end of this age - just prior to the return of our Lord to establish a rule of justice, righteousness and equity on the earth.

1. Finally recognizing the tragic end of walking in their own way, they appeal to Jehovah as their Father; they are but clay in the hands of the Divine Potter - whom they now desire to fashion them into what He wants them to be, (vs. 8; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 29; Isaiah 16; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 60:21; Psalms 100:3).

2. Declaring themselves to be His people (comp. Isaiah 64:8; Psalms 79:13), they plead with the Lord not to remember their iniquities (Isaiah 43:25; Micah 7:18) and to temper His wrath toward them with mercy, (Isaiah 57:16-18; Isaiah 60:10).

3. Jerusalem, the holy city, has become a wilderness and a desolation; the beautiful temple, where the fathers of Israel once worshipped the true and living God, is now burned with fire - as are all the objects of desire associated with it, (vs. 10-11; Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 3:8; Isaiah 6:11; Isaiah 63:18; Psalms 74:5-8; La 1:7, 10-11).

4. Will God still refuse His aid - in spite of all the heart-rending calamities that have befallen His erring people? (vs. 12; Isa Psalms 74:10-11; Psalms 74:18-19; Isaiah 63:15).

a. The implication is that they are yearning for divine forgiveness, and restoration to divine favor.

b. Nor will He forever hide his face from their cries; He will remember His covenant and extend His mercy - not for their sake, but for His own name’s sake! (Isaiah 41:14-16; Psalms 105:6-12; Psalms 106:43-48).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 64". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-64.html. 1985.
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