Come down from Heaven. Isaiah 63-64 – RBT Notes, 30th May

Blood-red and endowed with splendour, “striding forth in the greatness of his strength” (63.1). Jesus yet again appears in full view, and then He speaks to us of His work to save.

In these verses the images are deliberately unexpected, to get us thinking, and even wondering. The winepress runs with blood, and not the juice of grapes (v.3). Add to this the admission that the Servant works alone, and in anger (vv.3-6). Add again that His anger is directed at the nations He crushes. All of this gives the impression that the Servant is working to crush the nations, as He would stamp on grapes, and that their judgment is the salvation His people are longing for (v.3). In fact, this picture only becomes clear in the light of Jesus and His cross. He is crushing the sin of the nations, not the nations themselves. And what flows at the cross is the blood of His own sacrifice. And if you will, as a poet once said, the blood that He tasted is now for us who believe, the taste of wine.

Whether you read is as still the Servant singing, or Isaiah breaking out (I think it’s Isaiah), next comes a song celebrating God’s kindness to His people (vv.7-14). His compassion for them, distress for them, guiding and shepherding work (as well as the times He opposed them, v.10) are all recalled. Isaiah is in anguish, though, over the sin and failure of Israel (vv.15—18). They are a compromised mess, a people who deserve nothing from God, but who really need only one thing: God Himself.

Isaiah prays, and it’s a terrifying prayer: that God Himself would come from heaven. The God who so terrified Isaiah, back in ch. 6, is the God who he longs would visit the nation (v.1). Isaiah knows that his people are in a wretched condition, and that they would as soon burst into flames as dry twigs to a fire, should God come (vv.2, 5-6). Still, Isaiah pleads for God to intervene.

 

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We need to stop at this point, and be still before God. He is holy, we are not. We have low views of his majesty which are quite unworthy of Him. We pray shallow prayers, and our ‘God-talk’ falls from our lips with little thought. We would be safer playing with fire than treating God in this way, so blazing is God in His holiness. God will not be mocked, but He will be seen as the Lord God Almighty. Can we pray v.1? We must remember that God in Jesus ‘came down’ at the Incarnation, and so in one sense that prayer is already fulfilled. He is with us by His abiding Presence, the Holy Spirit. But yes, we can and we must pray that He would come in power to His people. We must pray that we would be overwhelmed by His holiness, and eager to respond with whole and pure hearts to His grace. We must pray that a complacent church, and a hell-bound world, would encounter the God of Heaven, as the God of salvation.

So pray, please pray.

Lewis Allen

Pastor, Hope Church Huddersfield, Director of Gospel Yorkshire, husband, father of five, football follower and dreaming fly-fisherman, Daily Reading the Bible Together blogger.

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