Sunday, October 22, 2017

Beyond Expectations

"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!" (Isaiah 64:1-4, NLT).  

Isaiah writes this verse in the midst of great frustration.  The nation is in shambles and though the passage is thought to be post-exilic (Cyrus of Persia has given the exiles permission to return to Jerusalem), Isaiah laments to condition of the city, the nation and the people.  In Isaiah 64 there is a powerful prayer for God's deliverance ("Oh that you would burst from the heavens and come down").  There is an acknowledgment of our fallenness ("our righteousness is as filthy rags").  There is an acceptability of God's leading ("you are the potter and we are the clay").  There is a hanging question ("will you refuse to help and remain silent?").  Embedded in all of this is the longing for God to revive the remnant of His people.  WOW ... hard and challenging teachings indeed!

So ... what brings revival and what blocks revival?  Isaiah says that sin has built a barrier for God's grace and God's salvation ... "we are constant sinners ... how can a people like us be saved?"  Isaiah says that revival depends on God's decision to redeem a people who are not worthy of that redemption.  How can that happen?  

I wonder if it hasn't already begun and we are waiting like the Jews for deliverance while the means of that deliverance has come.  For God HAS burst from the heavens and come down.  I believe the nations are already trembling with this nation being one of those.  For Christ has come, is here and God's Spirit waits for faithful people to call upon Him.  This morning I said that we find Jesus by realizing He wants to be found, realizing He gives us a map (Scripture, means of grace, service, giving, godly people, study, worship) and He asks for our "yes."  Isaiah 62, 63 and 64 all constitute prayers and supplication for a revival that only comes through us saying "Lord ... You are the potter, we are the clay!"  As we look to God for revival, may our prayers be many, may our submission to God's plan be genuine, may we set our feet on the firm foundation of Jesus (not the "filthy rags" of our righteousness) and may we turn the night of revival over to a God who can make revival a time when God does "awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations."  Make it so Lord! Randy

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