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Isaiah 64:9-12 (ESV) Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,             and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. 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 pleasant places have become ruins. Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?
Isaiah 64 begins by calling for God to return. It reflects on the expressions and revelations of God that Israel experienced in the past. It focuses particularly on their experiences at Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Law. There is no god like God. The chapter then goes on to acknowledge the sin of God’s people. “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is 64:6).
Why would an unclean people want God to return? Wouldn’t they expect that he would return with judgm…
Isaiah 63:15-17 (ESV)
Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.

The last part of Isaiah 63 is a cry for mercy. It is a call for help that goes on into the next chapter. It is a rather self-focused and na├»ve cry. “Where are your zeal and your might?” (Is 63:15). Where are they indeed? The first part of the chapter tells us the answer? The zeal and might of the LORD has been pouring out judgment against the world. “I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth” (Is 63:6).…
Isaiah 62:1-4 (ESV) For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
Because of the sin of God’s people, they would be abandoned, forsaken, and desolate. During Isaiah’s time, Israel fell to Assyria. 140 years later, in 586 BC, Judah fell to Babylon. God allowed their fall because of their idolatry and disobedience. They would have been viewed as forsaken by God. Jerusalem was desolate. They would have felt abandoned…
Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV)
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
The first part of this passage is what Jesus quoted in the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town (see Luke 4). He stopped with the words, “To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” He then said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” He was proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. He was proclaiming a Jubilee of Jubilees when YHWH restores all…
Isaiah 60:21-22 (ESV) Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it.
Isaiah 60 describes the restoration of the Jerusalem. They will be a wealthy, sought after, honored people who live in peace and prosperity. The Lord will be in their midst. As God was a light to the Israelis in the Wilderness, leading them as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, so now the presence of God in their midst will be their light. They will be a people living in righteousness, glory, and peace in the presence of YHWH.
Reading the description of God’s promise, one could get impatient waiting for its fulfillment. I can just imagine people’s thinking 700 years after Isaiah, at the time of Christ. The promise would either seem unreal, and people would long ago have stopped looking for it, o…
Isaiah 59:11-13 (ESV) We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the LORD, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
The people of God are living like the world. They are growling and moaning over the consequences of their sin, yet God does not hear them. He does not hear them or respond with salvation, not because he cannot hear them, but because he will not hear them. He refuses to listen when they refuse to repent.
It reminds me of times when my children were small. The would demand a glass of water, or another helping from the dinner table. I would ignore them until they stopped demanding and began asking politely. Then suddenly I could (would) hear t…
Isaiah 58:1-2 (ESV) “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.
How can this be? God says that his people seek him daily, delight to know his ways, ask him for righteous judgments, and delight to draw near to him. Yet he says, “Declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.” What sins is he talking about? How can a people who delight to seek him daily be a people who need to be confronted about their sins? If we were described as a people who delight to seek him daily we would expect that is what God desires. Yet God seems unhappy with these people.

The sins he addresses include injustice for the poor, mistreatment of workers, being quick to anger, and grum…
Isaiah 57:15 (ESV) For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
God is, “Our Father who art in Heaven” (Mt 6:9). He is also the one who dwells “with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit” (Is 57:15). He is the God up there. He is also the God right here. He is the God before whom I fall in worship and fear. He is also the God who embraces me in my brokenness and with whom I dance in my times of joy. He is the God who dwells in “unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1Tim 6:16). He is also the God we approach with confidence and boldness “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16). He is the God who is both infinite and intimate.
As the God who is up there, I know that he sees all things. Nothing escapes his atte…
Isaiah 57:1-2 (ESV)
The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.

These verses remind me of the words of Daniel’s friends as they stood before Nebuchadnezzar. He warned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that they would be thrown into the fiery furnace if they refused to bow before his statue. They responded, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Dan 3:16-18). They understood and fully believed that God could save them, but if he chose not to, they would still not submit to false worship. Isaiah reminds us that even when t…
Isaiah 56:7-8 (ESV) these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Lord GOD,  who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”
Isaiah 56 is a chapter of promise and warning. To those whom the people of God would call unacceptable, God says, “You are welcome and I will bless you.” His “house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The unacceptable, the poor, the maimed, the undesirable, are all welcome. By contrast, he says of the spiritual and political leaders of God’s people, “But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all” (Is 56:11 ESV).
This chapter raises so many questions that we need to put to ourselves regularly. Let me pose two. First, how do we treat the unac…