Isaiah 64

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 6, 2000


Last week, we saw in 63:1-10 a picture of Jesus coming back to rescue the Jews who have fled to Jordan from the antichrist and marching to take back the city of Jerusalem.

Then in 63:11-14, there were the thoughts of what might be those Jews who would be rescued, as they looked back to the times of Moses and longed for God to show the same kind of power for them as He did with Moses.

In 63:15-19, we began a prayer of these people as they look back to realize that they had backslidden as a nation and now they begin to call on God for help.  That prayer continues through chapter 64.

It’s a prayer of a people who have backslidden, who are in great need, and who are calling on God for help.

Warren Wiersbe calls this “one of the greatest “revival prayers” found in Scripture”.

:1-3  Help us like the old days

Again, the people look back to how God helped them before, and ask for His help now.

:1  Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens

rendqara‘– to tear, tear in pieces; rend; to tear away or out; to rend open (of heavens)

:1  that thou wouldest come down,

thou wouldest come downyarad – to go down, descend, decline, march down, sink down; come down; to sink; to be prostrated

:1  that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.

might flow downzalal – (Niphal) to shake, quake

at thy presencepaniym – face; in front of, before, to the front of, in the presence of, in the face of, at the face or front of, from the presence of, from before, from before the face of

:2 As when the melting fire burneth,

meltinghamac – from an unused root apparently meaning to crackle; brushwood

“as the fire burneth the dry brushwood” [GESENIUS].

:2  that the nations may tremble at thy presence!

trembleragaz – tremble, quake, rage, quiver, be agitated, be excited, be perturbed

:3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for,

terrible things- yare’ - to fear, revere, be afraid

Ex 34:10  And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

God’s work with us is not only powerful, but it can be a little terrifying as well.  When the Red Sea parted and the people walked down between two walls of water, I’m sure it was a little “thrilling” (Ex. 14).  When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord and were consumed by the fire that came from heaven (Lev. 10), I’m sure it was a little scary.

we looked not for qavah – to wait, look for, hope, expect; (Piel) to wait or look eagerly for; to lie in wait for; to wait for, linger for

(Isa 64:3 NIV)  …you did awesome things that we did not expect …

:3  thou camest down,

thou camest downyarad – to go down, descend, decline, march down, sink down

:3  the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

flowed downzalal – to be worthless, be insignificant; to shake, tremble, quake

Jud 5:5  The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.

Ps 97:5  The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

Na 1:5  The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

Mic 1:4  And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, [and] as the waters [that are] poured down a steep place.

The people are referring back to God meeting with them at Mt. Sinai.  God had done something incredible, something fearful, something amazing in helping His people.  They are asking God to work in their lives just like He did in the past.


God’s work in the past gives hope for the future.

Sometimes the problems in our lives can get a little overwhelming.  The future can look pretty bleak.  We are told to “trust the Lord”, but sometimes that seems a little hard to do.
The Bible says,
(Rom 10:17 KJV)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

In other words, our ability to trust the Lord grows as we spend time in God’s Word, the Bible.  I think that one of the ways this works is when read about the incredible, historical accounts of what God has done in the past, just as He delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

If God can part a Red Sea, is He able to solve your problems?  I think so.

When I read about things that God has done in revivals in recent church history, it makes me want to pray, “Lord, we want to see You move now like You have in the past.”

: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,

the beginning of the world ‘owlam – long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world

have not heardshama‘– to hear, listen to, obey

nor perceived by the ear‘azan – (Hiphil) to hear, listen, give ear; to be obedient, harken; to hear or listen to prayers (of God)

eye ‘ayin – eye; of physical eye; as showing mental qualities; of mental and spiritual faculties (fig.)

seenra’ah – (Qal)  to see; to see, perceive; to see, have vision; to look at, see, regard, look after, see after, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, look out, find out; to see, observe, consider, look at, give attention to, discern, distinguish; to look at, gaze at

:4  what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

what he hath prepared ‘asah – to do, fashion, accomplish, make.  The Hebrew is “do” instead of “prepare”, “the things God does for them that wait on Him”.

that waitethchakah – to wait, wait for, await

(Isa 64:4 NASB)  For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, Neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.


God wants to work in your life.

If you’ll let Him.
(2 Chr 16:9 KJV)  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…

He’s looking for people who want to let Him work in their lives.


God has incredible things for you.

Paul seems to give a loose translation of this passage (it’s not word for word, not even from the Septuagint, different words used):
(1 Cor 2:7-10 KJV)  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: {8} Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. {9} But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. {10} But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

We often think of these verses as referring to heaven, but it is referring to ALL the kinds of things that God has prepared for those of us who love and wait for Him.

One of the “mysteries” of God was the cross. 

Who would have thought that the God who created us would love us so much that He would take on human flesh, suffer such great humiliation at the hands of the very people He created, and even die in their place, taking the punishment for their sins as He hung on the cross.

Who would have thought? But it’s true.

In fact, Jesus’ death on the cross is God’s way of taking care of your sins, paying for them and offering you forgiveness instead of judgment. It’s God’s way.  It’s God’s only way.

:5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways:

thou meetestpaga‘– to encounter, reach. The idea is that of meeting to make a covenant or treaty with a person (JFB).

that rejoicethsuws – to exult, rejoice

righteousnesstsedeq – justice, rightness, righteousness

those that rememberzakar – to remember, recall, call to mind

God makes a relationship with those who: 1) Rejoice, 2) Do right things, 3) Remember Him in all their ways

:5  behold, thou art wroth;

thou art wrothqatsaph – (Qal) to be wroth, to be full of wrath, to be furious

:5  for we have sinned:

we have sinnedchata’ – to sin, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt.  Literally, “we have tripped”, picking up the picture of “all their ways” (vs.5).

:5  in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

in those is continuance ‘owlam – long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world

This Hebrew phrase is a little difficult to translate, but a better translation is the New King James:

(Isa 64:5 NKJV)  You are indeed angry, for we have sinned; In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.

we shall be savedyasha‘– (Niphal) to be liberated, be saved, be delivered; to be saved (in battle), be victorious

:6 But we are all as an unclean thing,

an unclean thingtame’ – unclean, impure; ethically and religiously; ritually; of places

:6  and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;

all our righteousnessests@daqah – justice, righteousness; righteous acts

filthy ‘ed – (menstruation); filthy rag, stained garment (fig. of best deeds of guilty people)

ragsbeged – (CLBL) garment, clothing (used indiscriminately)

:6  and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

we all do fadenabel – (Qal) to be foolish; (Qal)  to sink or drop down; to fall, wither and fall, fade; to droop

(Hebrew margin) we all do fadebalal – (Hiphil) to fade away

iniquities ‘avon – perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment of iniquity

windruwach – wind, breath, mind, spirit

taken us awaynasa’ – to lift, bear up, carry, take


Without Him, the best we have is worthless.

I’m not sure we’re totally convinced of this.  I think that sometimes we have this idea that we, in our own strength, have a lot to offer to God.

I heard Jon Courson talk about our own efforts.  Suppose one day I go to visit the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and I sit there staring at it and get to thinking, “Gee, old Mona sure looks sad.  I think she needs a little cheering up!”  So I get out my Crayola Water Color paint set, get a cup of water from the drinking fountain, and begin to paint a smile on Mona’s face.  What a horrible thought!  To think that I in my own artless skills could add to the face painted by Da Vinci!

Yet sometimes we think that perhaps we have a little bit to offer to God.


Suppose you come over to my house and you join me and my boys in playing a rousing game of “Star Wars Monopoly”.  Well, we find out that you are probably the best Monopoly player in the world and you totally clean us out.  We are so awed at your skills that we ask you to take home your play money as a reward.  So off you go on your way home with 20,000 Star Wars Credits in your pocket.  You are feeling a little rich, so you decide to stop at Target and go on a shopping spree.  You load up your little red cart with all kinds of cool things and head for the checkout register.  As the cashier tells you that your bill comes to $5,000, you smile and say, “No problem”, and begin to count out Star War Credits.  Will you get out the door with your merchandise?  No way!!!

In the same way, the best that we think we can offer to God in this life is actually worthless in the reality of heaven.

:7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee:

none that callethqara’ – to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim

that stirreth up ‘uwr – to rouse oneself, awake, awaken, incite

to take holdchazaq – to strengthen ; (Hiphil)  to make strong, strengthen; to make firm; to display strength; to make severe; to support; to repair; to prevail, prevail upon; to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support; to hold, contain

thou hast hidcathar – to hide, conceal

:7  for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

thy facepaniym – face

hast consumedmuwg – to melt, cause to melt; faint

iniquities ‘avon – perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment of iniquity


Who do you blame?

These people will find that there is no one to blame for their situation other than their own selves.
When David had committed his horrible sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and then tried to hide it by committing murder and having Bathsheba’s husband killed, he was confronted by Nathan the prophet.  After telling David a story about a rich man taking advantage over a poor man, he turned to David and said, “You are the man”.

How did David respond?  Did he blame his parents for raising him in a “dysfunctional” household?  Did he blame Saul for having caused him such distress in his youth that he now lacked self-control?  Did he blame Bathsheba for taking a bath on the rooftop for him to see?  No.  He said, “I have sinned”.

Look carefully in the mirror.  Don’t pass the blame on to someone else.

:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father;

father ‘ab – father of an individual; of God as father of his people; head or founder of a household, group, family, or clan

:8  we are the clay, and thou our potter;

claychomer – cement, mortar, clay

potteryatsar – to form, fashion, frame

:8  and we all are the work of thy hand.

the workma‘aseh – deed, work


Let Him mold you.

The picture of a potter and His clay has several principles with it, but the main one is that of the Potter having the ability to make from the clay whatever He wants.
Jer 18:6  O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter’s hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
Isa 29:16  Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
Ro 9:21  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Are you willing to let God do whatever He wants in your life?
God isn’t just any old potter.  He’s the Master Potter.  Would you entrust your paintbrush and canvas to Leonardo Da Vinci if he walked into your art studio?  Let God take your life and do what He wants.  He only makes masterpieces.
The Touch of the Master’s Hand
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while.
To auction off the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid for the old violin? Who’ll start the bidding for me?
One dollar. One. Who’ll make it two? Two dollars. Who’ll make it three?”
Going for three ... but no,
From a room far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow. 
Wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening up its strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet, as sweet as an angel sings.
The auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?” as he held it up with the bow.
“One thousand, one, who’ll make it two? Two thousand, who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice, going and gone” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We don’t quite understand
What changed its worth.” Quick came the reply, “The touch of the Master’s hand.” 
Many a man, with life out of tune, battered and torn by sin,
Is auctioned off to a thoughtless crowd, much like that old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a game, and he travels on.
He’s going once, he’s going twice, he’s going ... he’s almost gone.
Then the Master comes, and the thoughtless crowd can never quite understand.
The worth of a soul and the miracle that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.

~Author Unknown

:9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD,

be not wrothqatsaph – (Qal) to be wroth, to be full of wrath, to be furious

very sorem@‘od – exceedingly, much

:10 Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.

wildernessmidbar – wilderness; uninhabited land.  It comes from dabar– to speak; but which can also be translated (Hiphil) to lead away, put to flight.

Though on the outset it would seem that this might be descriptive of the land of Israel before 1948, there might be a sense in which this could apply to the nation as they are being chased into the wilderness of Jordan, fleeing from antichrist (Rev. 12).

desolationsh@mamah – devastation, waste, desolation.  This word comes from shamem – to be desolate, be appalled, be deflowered, be deserted

Again, this could be descriptive of Jerusalem before it’s modern state, but it could also be a picture of today and into the Tribulation, when it is not the “holy city” it ought to be.  Jesus said,

(Luke 21:23-24 NASB)  "Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people, {24} and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

The language here could carry the idea that the “cities have been put to flight” and “Jerusalem has been deserted”

:11 Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.

holyqodesh – apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness

beautifultiph’arah – beauty, splendour, glory

housebayith – house; house, dwelling habitation;  (TWOT) temple

praisedhalal – to shine; to praise, boast

burned ups@rephah – burning

all our pleasant thingsmachmad – desire, desirable thing, pleasant thing

Talking about the temple.  This could still be applicable today.  There has been no Jewish temple since the Roman Titus destroyed it in AD 70.  All that’s left is a courtyard retaining wall, which we call the “Wailing Wall”.  The temple site is occupied by two Moslem mosques.

:12 Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD?

wilt thou refrain ‘aphaq – (Hithpael)  to restrain oneself, refrain; to force, compel oneself

:12  wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?

hold thy peacechashah – to be silent, quiet, still, inactive

afflict us ‘anah – (Piel) to humble, mishandle, afflict; to humble, be humiliated; to afflict; to humble, weaken oneself

very sorem@‘od – exceedingly, much

(Isa 64:12 NLT)  After all this, LORD, must you still refuse to help us? Will you continue to be silent and punish us?

:9  neither remember iniquity for ever

rememberzakar – to remember, recall, call to mind

iniquity ‘avon – perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment of iniquity

for ever ‘ad – perpetuity, for ever, continuing future


Forgiveness forever

This is not just the hopeful prayer of some poor, disillusioned crazy person.
Holding A Grudge
One day a visitor leaned on the old fence around a farm, while he watched an old farmer plowing with a mule. After a while, the visitor said, “I don’t like to tell you how to run your business, but you would not have to work so hard if you would just say, “gee” and “haw” to that mule instead of just tugging on those lines. The old farmer stopped and pulled a big handkerchief  from his pocket and wiped his face.  Then he said, “Reckon you’re right, but this animal kicked me five years ago and I ain’t spoke to him since.”

For some of us, this is our kind of experience with forgiveness.  We’ve hurt someone and we haven’t spoken with them since.  In other words, there hasn’t been forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness is real.  He wants to have things fixed with you.

We can actually receive forgiveness that lasts forever.  The Bible says,
Isa 55:7  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Psa 103:12 KJV)  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
(Jer 31:34b KJV)  …for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
How do we receive this kind of forgiveness?
1Jo 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It all starts when I’m willing to admit that I’ve sinned.  When I’m willing to turn from my sins and turn towards God.