Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rend the Heavens and Come Isaiah 64:1-9

Advent starts this year with the reading of a prophet's prayer,

1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— 2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! Isaiah 64:1-2 (NRSV)

Isaiah's words reached out towards God with deep desire and passion. He wanted God's presence to be experienced in the world. Isaiah wanted God to send earthquakes shaking the mountains. He asked for fires to make the waters boil so that the Holy Name of God might be realized. Isaiah wasn't asking for God to come sometime in the maybe or could be future. He was asking for God to come manifest in glory right now, in his time and space.

Isaiah prayed for God to come right now. Martin Luther commented in his lectures,

This is a true prayer when the devils and the ungodly enemies have been accused and a strong desire bursts forth into prayer and into a longing for God.Luther's Works, Vol. 17 : Lectures on Isaiah: Chapters 40-66. Page 363

The prophet of God, who spoke God's Word in season and out of season yearned for the world to experience God's presence. As a prophet Isaiah knew God's presence in the Word; but he yearned for something more than words to communicate the power of God to the people of this world.

Isaiah yearned not only for his own experience of God but for others to experience God. He asked God to make himself seen. Isaiah wanted God to be realized by the other people he lived along side of every day. Modern day believers may share this same experience. Many among us to see God be real for the people around us just as he is real, by faith, for believers. We long for God to confront those who are indifferent to Him with his holy presence. But God chose not to come to earth with earthquakes and fire. He chose to come in flesh and blood. We yearn for his glory to be manifest in contrast to the apathy of this world.

7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Isaiah 64:7 (NRSV)

Isaiah may have exaggerated the situation as he wrote, about "...no one who calls on your name," but the experience of isolation in faith that he names is profound. Isaiah's prayer grew from the very heart of faith. He'd been driven to declare the Word in uncomfortable situations where many didn't believe a word that he spoke. Now he wanted God to be real and manifest not only for believers but for the scoffers. Isaiah wanted God to waked up the apathetic who believed God didn't care at all.

God's response to Isaiah was to come. He came to earth not with the fire and the earthquake, rather he came as a baby boy laid in a manger. We yearn for him to come and be real in our day, just like the prophet. We don't see the signs of his presence and miss him all the more.

1 comment:

david said...

Great insights as usual. I'm not sure if you have ever had any visitors from my pericope group to you blog, but I have told them about your blog.

Happy Thanksgiving.