August 18, 2019
Last week (Remember Hesed), we looked at the first two stanzas of a five stanza poem. The poem is a prophetic view of how God’s people will call out to God during their time in Babylon. In the first two stanzas, the Israelites captive in Babylon declare their faith in God’s hesed. God is loyal and faithful with an everlasting love, they look to Him for their deliverance.
We may put our faith in God’s hesed. God will deliver us. We know He will because of His proven demonstrations of His faithfulness to deliver His people. God will deliver us from this present evil age and bring us into the eternal kingdom of the New Jerusalem. We have hope!
This week, we look at the last three of the five stanzas. The focus changes from asking God to deliver His people, to asking Him to do a work in their heart.
Main Idea – Pray for Divine Intervention
The main idea is that we are to humbly cry out to God in prayer for His divine intervention in our lives.
The Israelites realize they are not living as they ought, as God’s chosen people. They know that in their own power and strength, they cannot be holy. The time in Babylon makes them realize that they want God and life is better when they live according to God’s ways and not theirs.
In Babylon, they learn to hate the world. They are not happy living away from God. They are not happy with living around people who don’t know God.
In the same way, we should not be happy when living apart from God in the world. There is much more than just wanting to go to heaven and live in God’s kingdom in peace and security. We are here in this world for a purpose. We are called, by God, to live as His servants, letting the world know God, and worshipping God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If our heart is not red-hot for God, we ought to be gravely concerned.
Like the Israelites, we have no ability or power to do this on our own. We need God to intervene and “have His way” with us.
If we desire to live fully, the way God intends, we need to learn this prayer in Isaiah. The Israelites did not write this prayer while in Babylon. God wrote it around 200 years beforehand. The Israelites pray these words in Isaiah after he is dead and buried. God answers the prayer He wrote and restores His people.
The Israelites experienced revival. Do we desire revival? If we do, we will pray as these verses teach.
Pray that God will be Zealous
The first request for revival begins with asking God to be zealous toward His people.
Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. (Isaiah 63:15)
They ask God to be zealous toward them. They want Him to be passionately fanatic. They ask God to look from heaven and see the condition of His people.
Is God pleased that His people are lacking in His compassion? Is God satisfied with what He sees? Is this what God desires for His people? They know God and they know He desires to glorify Himself by being compassionate to them.
Because You are our Father
God gives us His people the reason for Him to be zealous toward them.
For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name. (Isaiah 63:16)
Should Abraham or Jacob (Israel), be alive and see them, they would be unrecognizable as God’s people. This is not God intends. Just as God is the Father to Abraham and Jacob, God is the Father of His people in Babylon.
In the same way, we need to appeal to God. We need to tell Him that He is our Father. We are to be recognizable as the people of God. All the saints throughout history ought to look upon us and recognize us as God’s people. The only way this will happen is if God is zealously working in our favor and exercising His great and loving compassion.
Because we are Your servants and heritage
The second reason God desires for us to have Him be zealous toward His people is that they are sinning against Him.
Why, O Lord, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. (Isaiah 63:17)
God’s servants are not to be straying from God. They are to be a people who fear God and keep His commandments. They are chosen to be a people who are holy and set apart. They are to be serving God and fulfilling His purpose and plan. When they live in sin, they are not His servants.
They ask, “why do you cause us to stray?” What a bold prayer God prescribes. We need to remember that this is a prayer written by God.
Listen. God will harden the hearts of His people. Do you remember the beginning of Isaiah, when Isaiah is in the throne room of God? God asks who will go and speak to the people. Isaiah says, “Here am I, send me.” God tells Isaiah, “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10)
The Israelites wanted to live like the world, and God put them smack-dab in the middle of a corrupt, evil world of Babylon. Just as they wanted.
The people of Israel can read Isaiah 6:10 and know God hardened their hearts. He does it because the people want to live like the rest of the people of the world. They grow tired of God. They no longer want to obey God or give Him their worship and praise.
God gives His people want they want. God withholds His grace, which is the same as hardening their hearts. God lets them chase after the world. They want to live without God and to be removed from His covenant, so God gives them what they want. He removes their desire for Him and their hearts grow cold.
Today, people in the church have lukewarm hearts for God. People find the world attractive. People grow tired of giving God thanks and worshipping His name. Paul describes it as the foolish heart becomes darkened, and so God gives them over to their foolish heart. Professing to be wise, they become fools. They change the glory of God for idols. They become unnatural in their relations. They commit indecent acts.
Jesus tells us the parable of the prodigal son. It is the same idea. The prodigal son grows tired of living in his father’s house and wants to live in wanton abandon. So, the father lets him go. The Israelites are a great example of the prodigal son.
Some of you have the spirit of the prodigal son in your hearts. God will harden your heart and let you go until you find yourself feasting in the pig trough of the world. Then, you will come to the realization that you want God. Many Christians go through the experience of the prodigal son (as I did in 1985).
Beware of our desires. If we have any inkling for the things of this world, which God hates, we need to fall on our knees and beg God not to let us go. We have no power over our fleshly desires. Only God can give us the heart we need to follow Him. Let’s beg God not to harden our heart.
God says for the Israelites to appeal to Him by saying that they are His heritage. Another bold statement! Their life of sin looks poorly on His image. God is not glorified by sinful people. They need to pray that God will change them so they glorify His name. He wants to show His greatness making them part of His great heritage.
We need to humbly appeal to God in the same way. We need to cry out in prayer asking God to help us not find satisfaction with sin. We don’t want to be known as being unholy sinners, but righteous servants. We desire to be obedient slaves, for living as obedient slaves is much better than our living in rebellious sin.
As a church, we need to point to the sign on 12A that says, “Christ” and ask God that this place will remain a place where God has a great legacy. “God, please don’t allow us to smear or dishonor the name of Jesus Christ.” Let us be Your honorable heritage in Plainfield.
The only way we will change, and after we change, stay right before God, is by God zealously working in our hearts.
Because the adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary
The third reason God gives for Him to be zealous is the condition of the sanctuary.
Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, our adversaries have trodden it down. (Isaiah 63:18)
God brought His people to Jerusalem, the Promised Land, so He might have a people who will worship Him as the God of Israel. In the present situation, His people are not in Jerusalem worshipping at His holy temple, but they are captives and slaves in a foreign land. They cannot worship the God of Israel in Babylon.
As they are in Babylon, God’s adversaries are defiling the holy sanctuary. This is not what God desires.
Today, churches across the world are being trodden by God’s enemies. People are defiling marriages in the church. Unholy music is being played. Churches are being converted into mosques, homes, restaurants, and places of recreation. Google the phrase church conversions, and see how people proudly display how they convert a church building into something they deem as useful. Some even use the phrase, “inspiring” to describe the conversion. It’s very sad.
How does it happen? People bring the world into the church. They make the church according to their preferences. They don’t give to the gospel. The next you know, the church becomes a useless structure and only a building.
Imagine God being zealous and working in the hearts of people so churches are once again places of worship, where God’s name is glorified and His word preached.
Pray God works in the hearts of His people so churches once again become houses of worship and praise to the God of Israel.
Because we are like those You never ruled
The last reason God gives is their spiritual condition is so far gone, that they don’t even appear to be a people God ever knew.
We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name. (Isaiah 63:19)
Imagine being so far from God that it is hard to believe His people ever belonged to Him. There is no indication in their life that the people were once called by God’s name. If they tell people that they are the former people of God, like Noah, Moses, Joshua, Abraham, or David, people would scoff.
There is only one thing keeping us from falling away, and that is God. We may resemble the people of God today, but we need to pray and beg God that we resemble the people of God tomorrow. We cannot remain faithful apart from the work of God. Pray God helps us remain faithful.
Pray that God be Present
The second request for revival is to ask God to show Himself. They desire God to be present.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down,
That the mountains might quake at Your presence—
As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— (Isaiah 64:1-2)
God wants them to ask God to not only arrive but to arrive with great power and might. He wants His people to desire God to arrive in such a way that it makes the mountains tremble and quake. He wants them to pray so He doesn’t show up mildly, but be like a fire that sets the field ablaze and causes water to boil.
God wants the Israelites not to settle for a bland, weak, mild showing of God. They ought to desire for God to arrive with majesty and awesomeness. God’s prayer for them is audacious!
God wants us to pray that He shows Himself as powerful and mighty. How often do we pray this way? We don’t desire a weak revival. We want God to make the mountains shake with His presence. We want the God who spins planets and hooks Leviathan to arrive in our presence. We want to know unquestionably know God is with us!
Those who do not trust God will never make such a prayer. If you are not a child of God, you don’t want God to show up in your presence. If He becomes present, you cannot run and hide from His power.
But, if we trust God, and He is moving and shaking the ground, we know that when He shows up in power, He will not hurt His children. We are safe in His loving arms.
To make Your name known
God gives a good reason for the Israelites to ask God to make His presence known in a might way.
To make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence. (Isaiah 64:2b-3)
God desires they pray for the Babylonians to know God is in their midst. God desires for all the nations to tremble in their shoes because God is present with the Israelites. He wants them to desire that He will not arrive in an expected fashion. He wants a repeat performance of when He covers Mt. Sinai with fire and smoke. God’s presence is to be nothing short of awesome!
Do we dare pray for God to be present in such a way that the nations tremble? Imagine praying this way as we go out to share the gospel. Imagine people knowing God is present in our lives. If we trust God and know Him as our Father, we will ask Him to be awesomely present in our lives.
For they have not perceived You nor seen You act
God wants us to pray that He respond because there are people who do not know God or fear His holiness.
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways. Behold, You were angry, for we sinned, we continued in them a long time; and shall we be saved? (Isaiah 64:4-5)
God sees that their eye has not seen a God besides Him, who acts on behalf of those who wait upon the Lord, A number of generations have not seen God work mightily in their midst.
God desires to make Himself known to the people of their day. He doesn’t want them to tell the stories of how God saves Noah, Moses, or Hezekiah. He wants them to experience Him in their day.
The Israelites are to recognize that God is angry because of their sin. He is right to punish them. They continued in sin for hundreds of years. They are to remember God is abounding in lovingkindness. He wants them to have such a fear of them, that they wonder if their sin going to stop God from saving them. He wants to prove His hesed, loyal, faithful love will demonstrate in compassion. He wants their sin to humble them so they examine themselves.
We need to humbly examine ourselves and pray for God’s salvation.
In the modern-day Babylon of today, people do not know of God. We need to pray for God to show Himself mighty and strong. We need to pray that God will release the persecuted prisoners of North Korea. We need to pray that God shakes the mountains and strongholds of Buddha and Hinduism in the Eastern Countries. We need to pray that God shakes the ground so the statues and idols of Mary fall in South America. We need to pray and ask God to loose the bonds of worldliness and immorality in our country.
Pray that God is present and awakens the church!
Because we have become unclean
God desires their prayer to be a humble confession.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
The israelites made themselves unclean. Their acts of worship are filthy in the eyes of God. They lack holiness. They are like a dead leaf blown about and carried by the wind of sin. They live like the gentiles. God desires for them to ashamed and their sin.
Confession keeps us humble. We need to recognize that we easily stray. Confession needs to appear frequently on our lips. Without God, we may never be righteous.
Because no one calls on Your name
The prayer continues with confession.
There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:7)
God desires that the Israelites recognize that He delivered them over to sin. They are to ask God to stop hiding His face from them.
We have no power over sin. We may not make ourselves righteous. Only the power of God working in our lives will help us. Try as we might to be righteous and holy, if we do not beg God for His help, our trying is for nothing. There is no ability within us to be right.
Daily, we need to be on our knees begging God to help us overcome the power of sin in our lives. We need to ask God to make us holy. It is only when God hears the prayer of our heart, will He help. Righteousness will only come our way through prayer.
Pray that God be our Potter
The third request for revival another bold request to the God of Israel.
But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)
God forms us in the womb. God molds us and works in our hearts. The Israelites are to beg God to have His way with their lives.
Do we dare ask God to be our potter? Do we dare ask God to have His way with our hearts and bodies? Do we trust God enough to surrender ourselves to Him? Are we willing to say, God, mold me like clay in Your hands?
Be careful in our prayer. Perhaps God will mold us to be His servant as a missionary. Perhaps God will mold us to find joy in giving rather than receiving. Perhaps God will make us a willing servant in the church, serving others by cleaning the sanctuary or scrubbing the toilets.
Do we trust God to make us into a vessel of His choosing rather than our choosing?
We can’t sing songs like, “I surrender all” or “Create in me a clean heart” or “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love” unless we are willing to allow God to be our potter.
If we are not yet in a place of complete and full surrender, the least we need to do is pray and ask God to change our heart so that we are willing to trust Him with our lives.
Because we are Your people
God desires the Israelites recognize that the reason they are in the place of complacency and lacking in worship is that God remembers their sin.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord, nor remember iniquity forever; behold, look now, all of us are Your people. (Isaiah 64:9)
They are to ask God to stop remembering their sin, and show them forgiveness. They are to desire an end to the Father’s punishment (not His wrath). God’s anger is to have a measure rather than be without end. They are to pray that the measuring of punishment shows an end. Pray for light at the end of the tunnel.
God desires the Israelites to tell Him, “We are Your people. We are like the prodigal son that has home. Behold, look now, all of us are Your people. Have mercy upon us for we have sinned.”
Because Your holy cities and temple are in ruins
God gives another reason to pray.
Your holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised You, has been burned by fire; and all our precious things have become a ruin. (Isaiah 64:10-11)
God’s people are to desire they have a place to worship Him. He does not desire for the Temple to be in ruin. He desires Jerusalem to be a glorious place of worship.
We need to pray the same. Pray that God keeps a holy and beautiful house where we may praise His holy name and worship Him freely.
Because it is not His nature to afflict His people
Will You restrain Yourself at these things, O Lord? Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure? (Isaiah 64:12)
The prayer ends by asking God how long. It is not God’s nature to restrain Himself from showing His glory.
After they pray, they are to say, “You have heard the things we have prayed. Will You keep silent? We think not. Show Yourself to be compassionate Lord. We are asking You as Moses asked upon Mount Sinai, “Show us Your glory!” Don’t be restrained with Your hesed (lovingkindness). We appeal to Your character. Don’t afflict us beyond measure. Return us to the Promised Land where we may live in Your presence.
Our prayers are to center upon asking God to be glorious. When we pray this way, our prayers will be answered.
Revive us Lord!
Let’s cry out to God in prayer for His divine intervention in our lives.
Let’s pray for God to be zealous toward us.
Let’s pray and we beg God to be present. Pray that He show Himself mighty and powerful.
Lastly, let’s pray that God will have His way with us like a potter has his way with a lump of clay. Beseech Him to mold us and make us into vessels for His good purpose.
Pray for His glory, and for our joy.