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Reflections on Isaiah 64:4
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
Isaiah 63 begins with a terrifying scene. Isaiah sees a conqueror returning from the battle. His garments are stained with the blood of his enemies, whom, he says, he had trampled in his wrath. “I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth” (Isa 63:6). Isaiah had asked who this champion is and the victor answered, “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save” (Isa 63:1). In the New Testament the Apostle John applies the imagery to Christ in Revelation 19:13,15 … “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood . . . He will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God, the Almighty.” So the Warrior in Isaiah is the LORD God, doing battle with His foes, in the person of God the Son.
It is description that ought to make every reader tremble. But then Isaiah’s language changes dramatically after the awesome description of Isaiah 63:1-6. In Isaiah 63:7 he says, “I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us.” For the enemies of God there is wrath, anger, and the shedding of their lifeblood. But for God’s own people there is steadfast love and the granting of blessing.
This contrast creates the tone of Isaiah 64 which is a heartfelt cry for God to display Himself in such a way that the unbelieving nations would know Him. “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence . . . to make your name known to your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at your presence” (Isa 64:1,2). Then, in verse 4, comes the declaration of the ignorance of God’s enemies and the absolutely stunning truth about Him of which they are ignorant. The thought has never crossed the minds of the unbelieving … they never dreamed … that the living God is a God who “acts for those who wait for Him.”
It is staggering to think about this, that the Creator of all things works on our behalf, namely those who hope in or have confidence in God. This is the truth that unbelievers have never perceived. And, sadly, this is one truth about our God that even believers often lose track of. Let us understand the logic of Romans 8:32 as it opens up the wonders of God’s grace lavishly poured out on His own.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
The reasoning of this verse is stirring to the tender soul. If God did not withhold the unspeakably valuable thing (His own Son) from us, then surely He will not withhold the lesser things, which, in the context of Roman 8, are justification, final redemption, and the abiding love of Christ in every distress in our lives.
The Bible is filled with promises and declarations about our God which display His willingness to work on our behalf.
He comforts us – “ . . . the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions” (2 Cor 1:3,4).
He teaches and guides us – “. . . when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13).
He sustains us – “. . . in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17).
He satisfies us – “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there pleasures forever” (Psa 16:11).are
He fills us with hope – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).
He protects us – “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one (2 Thes 3:3).
He pursues us with mercy – “Surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life . . .” (Psa 23:6).
He stands with us – “. . . lo, I am with you always . . .” (Mt 28:20).
He disciplines us – “. . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:10).
He rejoices over us – “He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (Zeph 3:17).
The result of God’s working on our behalf is that we are satisfied in Him and He is glorified above everything. “So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name” (Isa 63:14). Let us delight in imagining the unimaginable … a God who acts on our behalf in order to make for Himself a majestic name.
Stunned by the mercy of God,
Sermon Live Streamed April 26th, 2020.