Prayer for Mercy and Help
64 Oh, that You would tear open the heavens and come down,
That the mountains might quake at Your presence—
As [sure as] fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome and amazing things which we did not expect,
You came down [at Sinai]; the mountains quaked at Your presence.
For from days of old no one has heard, nor has ear perceived,
Nor has the eye [a]seen a God besides You,
Who works and acts in behalf of the one who [gladly] waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices in doing that which is morally right,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
Indeed, You were angry, for we sinned;
We have long continued in our sins [prolonging Your anger].
And shall we be saved [under such circumstances]?
For we all have become like one who is [ceremonially] unclean [like a leper],
And all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags;
We all wither and decay like a leaf,
And our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing], like the wind, takes us away [carrying us far from God’s favor, toward destruction].(A)
There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who awakens and causes himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have handed us over to the [consuming and destructive] power of our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing].(B)
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our Potter,
And we all are the work of Your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord,
Do not remember our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] forever.
Now look, consider, for we are all Your people.
[b]Your holy cities have become a wilderness,
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful house [the temple built by Solomon],
Where our fathers praised You,
Has been burned by fire;
And all our precious objects are in ruins.
Considering these [tragedies], will You restrain Yourself, O Lord [and not help us]?
Will You keep silent and humiliate and oppress us beyond measure?
- Isaiah 64:4 Or seen, O God, besides You, what He will do.... The ancient rabbis favored this translation or a variation of it, and some suggested that the unexpressed object (what) is wine preserved since the creation, or Eden. They all applied this verse to the future that follows the millennial kingdom, and was mostly a mystery to them. Heaven, or specifically the New Jerusalem, that follows the kingdom was partially revealed to John in Revelation. There is a story in the Talmud that when King Ahasuerus held a great banquet in Susa for seven days (Esth 1:5), he arrogantly asked the Jews if God could do better for them than that. They quoted this line to him in reply, and said that in the time to come if God provided nothing better for them than this feast, they could tell Him that they had already enjoyed such a feast at the table of Ahasuerus.
- Isaiah 64:10 After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in a.d. 70 it became a religious tradition among the rabbis to recite vv 10 and 11 and to rip a tear in their robes whenever they saw the ruins.
New International Version
64 [a]Oh, that you would rend the heavens(A) and come down,(B)
that the mountains(C) would tremble before you!
2 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!
3 For when you did awesome(F) things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled(G) before you.
4 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)
5 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?
6 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)
7 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.
8 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)
9 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)
10 Your sacred cities(Z) have become a wasteland;
even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation.(AA)
11 Our holy and glorious temple,(AB) where our ancestors praised you,
has been burned with fire,
and all that we treasured(AC) lies in ruins.
12 After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back?(AD)
Will you keep silent(AE) and punish us beyond measure?
King James Version
64 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
2 As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
9 Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.
10 Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.
12 Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?