Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!
You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (Isaiah 64:1-6)
God’s presence is so intense that it is like a consuming fire that burns everything in its path. The Israelites had experienced God’s presence at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-19). When God met with Moses there was a thunderstorm, smoke, and an earthquake. If God were to meet us today, his glory would overwhelm us, especially when we look at our “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God (Isaiah 6:5; Romans 3:23) any more than a beggar in rotten rags could dine at a king’s table. Our best efforts are still infected with sin. Our only hope, therefore, is faith in Jesus Christ, who can cleanse us and bring us into God’s presence (read Romans 3).
This passage, however, doesn’t mean that God will reject us if we come to him in faith, nor that he despises our efforts to please him. However, if we come to him demanding acceptance on the basis of our “good” conduct, God will point out that our righteousness is nothing compared to his infinite righteousness. This message is primarily for the unrepentant person, not the true follower of God.
For what, if anything, are you waiting on God? Perhaps you seek an answer to prayer. Or, perhaps you’re waiting on him to prove himself trustworthy somehow. Consider the message of Isaiah 64:3: “You did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.” Are you willing to trust that he will answer?