Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 2 2019 - Isaiah 64 – Rending the heavens

In the past couple of chapters we have seen that the Messiah has appointed his people as watchmen who look for, and pray for the completion of God's saving purposes, giving God no rest from their prayers that his kingdom may come and that his people become the praise of all the earth. Such longings and heartfelt prayer are expressed now in chapter 64:

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains would tremble before you!
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! (Isaiah 64:1-2)

This plea for God to act for the salvation of his people is grounded in what God had previously done for them. He did awesome things when he rescued his people from Egypt and came down to meet with them at Mount Sinai – the mountains trembled before him (v. 3). No one has seen or heard of any other god doing the kinds of things that God has done for his people. The God of Israel is without any rivals (v. 4). Isaiah admits that God's people have rebelled against him and have forgotten God's commandments – "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (v. 6). He cannot plead that the people of God are deserving of God's salvation. Rather he pleads God's own character and promises:

Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, LORD;
    do not remember our sins for ever.
Oh, look upon us we pray,
    for we are all your people. (vv. 8-9)

So he pleads that God not will hold back his mercy but will come to the aid of his people (v. 12).

And this is what our great and holy God has done in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has looked upon us in all our sin and need – in our lost condition – and has taken pity on us. He has rent the heavens and come down. God the Son left his throne in glory and came to be born in the filth and squalor of an animal shed. He came to lift us from the filth and squalor of our sins – our filthy rags righteousness – to clothe us in the splendid righteousness of a Son of God. Having died for us he was raised for us and has returned to glory for us.

But that is not the end of the story. As the heavens were rent and God the Spirit came down upon the Lord Jesus at his baptism, so God has rent the heavens for us and sent us his Spirit to work in our lives and conform us to the image of his Son. His purpose is to make his people the praise of all the earth. And the Spirit, sent from heaven, is still at work convicting the world of sin and of righteousness and of the reality of the judgment to come. He is still at work drawing men and women to Christ that they might find salvation in him. He is still empowering his people to act as witnesses to God's great work of salvation in Christ that they might turn to him.

And one day God will rend the heavens again at Christ's return when all things shall be transformed and made new and the whole of creation shall be made "the home of righteousness" as it is filled with the presence and glory of God.

Lord, we pray that you would rend the heavens and come down. Come down O Spirit in revival power, energising your people and turning many more to Christ. Come O Christ in power and in might to transform this sorry world so that we, and all creation, may reflect your resurrection glory. 

Peter Misselbrook