Today: [Isaiah 64] God is Moving Toward You. In Isaiah 64 we see Isaiah calling for the Father to “rend the heavens” a make Himself manifest in the midst of the people in a difficult time. He acknowledges that all have sinned and that man’s idea of righteousness is filthy rags at the judgment seat of heaven. Regardless of man’s iniquity we see God will meet and move toward those who rejoice and work righteousness in their lives. What is righteousness? Righteousness is not a religious code. According to 1 Cor. 1:30 righteousness is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. We work righteousness as receive Jesus into our hearts, accepting Him as savior and operationally cooperating with Him on a daily basis as our personal Lord.
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[Isa 64:1-12 KJV] 1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 As [when] the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, [that] the nations may tremble at thy presence! 3 When thou didst terrible things [which] we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. 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, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. 5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, [those that] remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. 6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And [there is] none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, thou [art] our father; we [are] the clay, and thou our potter; and we all [are] the work of thy hand. 9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we [are] all thy people. 10 Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 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. 12 Wilt thou refrain thyself for these [things], O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?
In verse 1 of our chapter we see the prophet envisioning and praying that God would rend the heavens and that the mountains might flow down at His presence. The imagery of the beginning of the chapter is that of volcanic activity reshaping the landscape. Isaiah is posing this picture as a prayer regarding what he wants to see the Father do. Jesus in turn ANSWERS this question in the gospel of Matthew:
[Mat 21:21 KJV] 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this [which is done] to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
In other words because Jesus read the scriptures and was very familiar with them, He reads the question that Isaiah asks as a petition and His answer as God on earth was “…if you have faith and doubt not … it shall be done…” Have you ever asked or thought of asking God “what is it going to take (for your issue to be answered by God’s delivering hand)? Here is your answer in the 21st chapter of Matthew. God isn’t asking for you to perform some great feat. He isn’t asking you to give your body to be burned or to fast till your pants fall off, or to reform your life correcting areas where your personal piety is lacking in the area of church attendance, prayer times, bible reading or volunteering to mow the grass behind the sanctuary. When we get into trouble and we are desperate for God to move we often resort to doubling down on religious works and performance based strategies of approach to God. That isn’t what He is looking for. Verse 6 tells us that all our righteousness is filthy rags. If you were a scholar and could examine that phrase you would see that the literal rendering is that all our righteousness is as monstrous rags – fit only to be discarded.
What is it that God is after then? What is it that moves the hand of God? What is it going to take for God to “rend the heavens” and come down into your situation and bring deliverance, change and relief in your situation? God’s arm is not shortened, neither is His ear deaf to your cry. When answers fail to come, it has nothing to do with some imagined deficiency or inability on God’s part, as Isaiah affirms in Isa. 59:1. This is the primary, false objection of modern thinking. The skeptic asks, “if God exists then why do little babies die, why is there war, cancer, etc.?” The assumption is that if God is not acting it is because He either doesn’t care or isn’t there in the first place. In other words man will readily question God but is very reticent to question himself. The other half of the question “where is God” is the assertion that one is a good person, no worse than anyone else, that there is no reason why God should not act in our lives. Develop the discipline of questioning yourself more than you question God and His faithfulness. Again, the universal truth of verse 5 of our chapter. God moves toward those who rejoice in righteousness and work righteousness. If Satan can’t get you to reject this truth He is will offer a false basis on which to fulfill it. Righteousness is not achieved by your own efforts. This thinking is rooted in the thinking of fallen man that he can be like God, independent of God.
In the Old Testament righteousness was only achieved by 1.) being Jewish; and 2.) Obeying the law to perfection. Even under the law this was unattainable which was why God built the shedding of sacrificial blood into the law in order to recover man from failure. This law was given as we studied previously to totally refute the contention of the mind of fallen man that he does not need God to be like God. The law either written in the bible or in our own conscience convinces us that we need a savior and that salvation and all it entails is available by according to the faith that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 21:21. The mountain that is moved is not just a metaphor for the problem you are facing. It is a type and shadow of the gulf, the impenetrable barrier that stands between God and man that man is incapable of surmounting. The gap between you and God is not removed by your actions or your own personal piety, or your decision in your own thinking that it doesn’t matter how you live or think or act – God loves you anyway. The way to get closer to God or to close the distance between your experience and God’s promise is by faith – so Jesus affirms in Matthew.
If we are justified (made just as if we never sinned – restored to Edenic entitlement) by faith then what is this faith. The Greek word for faith is “pistis” which in its most basic definition means confidence in God. It is much deeper than this. It also includes and can be interpreted in the text as fidelity. Fidelity has a relational component. It goes beyond accepting Jesus into your heart and includes going down inside to draw upon the resources of God’s person within you just as the woman at the well went daily to dip her vessel and get water to take back to her home. The problem is that many of us are like the woman at the well. She was very much in error in her thinking about what God was prepared to do in her life through Jesus:
[Jhn 4:13-15 KJV] 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
The woman at the well was looking to Jesus to eliminate the need for her to come daily to draw upon God for what she needed. Remember that Jesus said in Luke 17:20,21 that the kingdom of God doesn’t come with observation. You must act. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, which implies your cooperation. Why would God demand this? Because He is after intimacy, and relationship with you. Again as verse 5 of our chapter says – when we move toward Him, accepting Him as our righteousness, and our faith (fidelity, relationship) with Him as the basis upon which we access that righteousness – then the mountains in our life will be consistently moved, our prayers will be consistently answered and our life will inexorably conform itself to the template of “as in heaven, so on earth”.
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