Isa 64:1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!

This dramatic expression conveys the idea of God’s powerful intervention in a time of revival. This verse emphasises the uselessness of human effort to produce revival; what is needed is a manifestation of divine power, as pictured by an opening of the heavens.

‘The language of the prophet’s prayer highlights the utter futility of human effort to produce revival apart from the mighty manifestation of divine power. When the heavens are shut, divine displeasure is indicated – an open heaven is a token of divine favour.’ (Egerton, Flame of God, 16)

Isa 64:2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!

Isa 64:3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

Isa 64:4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Isa 64:5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?

Isa 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

‘This passage can easily be misunderstood. It does not mean that God will reject us if we come to him in faith, nor does it mean that he despises our efforts to please him. It means that if we come to him demanding acceptance on the basis of our “good” conduct, God will point out that our righteousness is nothing compared to his infinite righteousness. Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God (Romans 3:23) any more than a beggar in rotten rags could dine at a king’s table. Our best efforts are still infected with sin. Our only hope, therefore, is faith in Jesus Christ, who can cleanse us and bring us into God’s presence.’ (HBA)

Isa 64:7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.

Isa 64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isa 64:9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people.

Isa 64:10 Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation.

Isa 64:11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins.

Isa 64:12 After all this, O LORD, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?