Singing, ”The Ancient of Days; none before me, none beyond me, all of time in my hands”.
“ Your vision of me encompassing everything that is – is correct. I am everywhere, there is no part of anything that exists that is separate from Me. Even in the darkest sinful corners I am there. Even when I choose to withdraw my manifest Presence, because of sin, I am still there. Just the awareness of Me has been removed. And all the time I am working in judgement and redemption as my central aim to grow My kingdom into a bride worthy of Me. Enjoy My creation as much as you can and continue to see it as a gift from Me, but understand this world is only a faint reflection of what is to come, so live to the fullest of My presence, be aware of what you are experiencing continually in this light, knowing that I am there – actively participating in every aspect of your life”
In our reading of Isaiah we are approaching the end, with its magnificent prophecy of what is still to come. The focus, is still on the “Suffering Servant” and His role in dealing with God’s vengeance. See the vital question in 63:1 “Who is this coming from Edom….?” But how are the people of Israel experiencing this, in the light of their state of exile? This is revealed in the prayer from 63:15 – 64:12. Here they pour out their hearts to God. Let us see what we can learn from this for our own prayer-life. Just remember we need to first see how the people of that time understood these words, then we can see how we can apply them to ourselves, now that Messiah has come.
The overriding feeling they have is that Yahweh has abandoned them That He has withdrawn from them. They feel that they no longer belong, even Abraham has abandoned them . 63:15,16. Very revealing is the fact that they sense their abandonment has come as a result of their sin, however they accuse Yahweh of causing them to sin. vs 17. “Why Yahweh do you make us stray from your ways? You harden our hearts so we do not fear you”.
His absence is “proved” by the fact that they have lost their land. The land that was Promised as part of His Covenant.
So they cry out “return”(vs17), “if only you would tear open the heavens and come down” (64:1). Then its as if this cry brings them to remember times past and who Yahweh really is. Times past, when He did awesome works and the mountains shook when He came down. Reference to the exodus and the giving of the covenant.
This memory brings a serious reflection and conclusion. They are all unclean, their iniquities carrying them along like the wind. And God? He is the Potter and they are clay, made by Him. What hope is there?
The only hope lies in that figure of 63:1. The One coming with crimson garments. The only One who is powerful to save! Wow!
How do we read this prayer, this side of the gospel? Firstly there is the time-honored message of Christianity. Jesus has come as the Vindicator and Redeemer. We are equally lost without Him. In fact Paul uses this language of the universal sinfulness of man, to show how much we all need to be saved, clearly in Romans 3. We all need that. It is only in recognizing our need that we can fully appreciate God’s Provision in His Son.
But what about blaming God for our sin? His hardening. It is a universal tendency for man to justify his sin, in some way or another. Are you justifying something you actually know that is wrong? The bible does speak of God hardening hearts, even of those who are saved. There is a sense in which God turns away from someone who continually sins. However the rest of the story is that He is ever seeking our repentance and our true heart. Remember the 99 sheep, He leaves to find the one who is lost?
So what do we do when God seems far away? Firstly one can call out openly how you feel. It is also very important to remind ourselves of God’s past acts. What is told in the bible and what He has done in our own lives. Remembering His continual promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Then, also we should remember that sin separates us from God, it is always good to make sure you do not harbour some hidden or even open sin which you need to repent from.
Finally, feeling that God is not near, does not mean He has left. Remember to rely on what the word says and not your feelings. I find spending time just sitting at His feet and listening to Him is most helpful and singing worship songs reminds me of all the old and sure truths.
So friends, maybe you have seen something you feel important in this passage, especially something I have not mentioned. Why not share it with us? In the end the important thing to remember is that prayer is that point of connection between us and our Heavenly Father, through His Son and with the help of the Spirit. I keep on reminding myself not to make new rules which will inhibit my free association with My Glorious Father.