64 [a]Oh, that you would rend the heavens(A) and come down,(B)
    that the mountains(C) would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
    and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name(D) known to your enemies
    and cause the nations to quake(E) before you!
For when you did awesome(F) things that we did not expect,
    you came down, and the mountains trembled(G) before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,(H)
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.(I)
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,(J)
    who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
    you were angry.(K)
    How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,(L)
    and all our righteous(M) acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,(N)
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.(O)
No one(P) calls on your name(Q)
    or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden(R) your face from us
    and have given us over(S) to[b] our sins.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.(T)
    We are the clay, you are the potter;(U)
    we are all the work of your hand.(V)
Do not be angry(W) beyond measure, Lord;
    do not remember our sins(X) forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
    for we are all your people.(Y)

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Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 64:1 In Hebrew texts 64:1 is numbered 63:19b, and 64:2-12 is numbered 64:1-11.
  2. Isaiah 64:7 Septuagint, Syriac and Targum; Hebrew have made us melt because of

Can We Be Saved?

64 1-7 Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend,
    make the mountains shudder at your presence—
As when a forest catches fire,
    as when fire makes a pot to boil—
To shock your enemies into facing you,
    make the nations shake in their boots!
You did terrible things we never expected,
    descended and made the mountains shudder at your presence.
Since before time began
    no one has ever imagined,
No ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you
    who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who happily do what is right,
    who keep a good memory of the way you work.
But how angry you’ve been with us!
    We’ve sinned and kept at it so long!
    Is there any hope for us? Can we be saved?
We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated.
    Our best efforts are grease-stained rags.
We dry up like autumn leaves—
    sin-dried, we’re blown off by the wind.
No one prays to you
    or makes the effort to reach out to you
Because you’ve turned away from us,
    left us to stew in our sins.

8-12 Still, God, you are our Father.
    We’re the clay and you’re our potter:
    All of us are what you made us.
Don’t be too angry with us, O God.
    Don’t keep a permanent account of wrongdoing.
    Keep in mind, please, we are your people—all of us.
Your holy cities are all ghost towns:
    Zion’s a ghost town,
    Jerusalem’s a field of weeds.
Our holy and beautiful Temple,
    which our ancestors filled with your praises,
Was burned down by fire,
    all our lovely parks and gardens in ruins.
In the face of all this,
    are you going to sit there unmoved, God?
Aren’t you going to say something?
    Haven’t you made us miserable long enough?

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A Cry for Revival

64 God, if only you would tear open

    the heavenly realm and come down!
    How the mountains would tremble[a]
    in your awesome presence![b]
In the same way that fire sets kindling to blaze
    and causes water to boil,
    let the fire of your presence[c] come down.
    Reveal to your enemies your mighty name
    and cause the nations to tremble before you!
When you did amazing wonders we didn’t expect,
    you came down,
    and mountains shuddered in your presence!
These amazing things had never been heard of before;
    you did things never dreamed of!
    No one perceived your greatness.
    No eye has ever seen a God like you,[d]
    who intervenes for those[e]
    who wait and long[f] for you![g]
Those who delight in doing what is right—
    you go out to meet[h] them with kindness.
    They remember you and cherish your ways.
    You showed your anger
    when we sinned again and again,
    yet we can be saved.[i]

Sin Is Our Problem

We have all become contaminated with sin,
    and you see our self-righteousness as nothing better
    than a menstrual rag.
    We are all like fallen leaves,
    and our sins sweep us away like the wind.[j]
No one calls on your name
    or presses in to lay hold of you,
    for you have hidden your face from us.
    You have let us be ruined[k] by our own sins.

The Master Potter

Yet still, Yahweh, you are our Father.
    We are like clay and you are our Potter.
    Each one of us is the creative, artistic work of your hands.
Yahweh, don’t be angry with us!
    Don’t remember our sins again forever!
    Please look at us; we are your people.

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Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 64:1 See Judg. 5:5; Hab. 3:6. Mountains can also symbolize governments and kingdoms. There is one King and one kingdom that rises above every other mountain (Isa. 2:1-5).
  2. Isaiah 64:1 Or “before your faces.”
  3. Isaiah 64:2 Fire is a frequent metaphor for the presence of God. See Gen. 3:24; Ex. 3:1-2; Isa. 4:5; 6:6; 10:16-17; 29:6; 30:27, 30; 31:9; 33:12, 14; 66:15-16, 24; Acts 2:3; Heb. 12:29.
  4. Isaiah 64:4 See 1 John 1:1-4.
  5. Isaiah 64:4 Or “who works on behalf of those.”
  6. Isaiah 64:4 The Hebrew word chakah implies waiting with trusting anticipation (longing).
  7. Isaiah 64:4 Or “him.” See Isa. 40:31; 1 Cor. 2:9-10.
  8. Isaiah 64:5 Or “You attack them [with kindness].”
  9. Isaiah 64:5 Or, as a question, “How can we be saved?” There is no verse in Isaiah that is more perplexing and difficult to translate than this one. The exact Hebrew meaning is uncertain.
  10. Isaiah 64:6 The implication is that we are whirled along by the wind of our sins.
  11. Isaiah 64:7 Or “melted by our own sins.”