There is a cry that will rise from the righteous remnant of God’s people. This article is based on Isaiah 64. First, let me define what the bible means by the term remnant. The remnant in bible terms is the group of people that have remained faithful and steady toward God. They are those who carry on the work of God around the world. They are the spiritually hungry ones who put their hand to the plow and never look back. God has always had a remnant. Even in these times, these last days in which we are living, there is a remnant that has put God first in their lives.
As we approach this passage, it is important to know the intent of this prophet’s message. This chapter was intended to encourage the faithful remnant who had returned to Judah and Jerusalem. The history of Judah and Israel is important to understand. The nation of Israel had divided into two nations. Judah and Israel. Judah had been taken captive to Babylon. This happened because the people did not keep God as number one in their hearts. The nation had allowed sin and idolatry into their lives and so God removed his hand of blessing and thousands were taken captive to Babylon. They would stay there for 70 years and then return. This prophetic passage is speaking to those who would return.
Isaiah 64:10-11 tells us the condition of the land when they return.
“Your holy cities are a wilderness,
Zion is a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful temple,
Where our fathers praised You,
Is burned up with fire;
And all our pleasant things are laid waste.”
Returning to a broken and destroyed land and city would be difficult. Seeing the temple in that condition would be discouraging. Many of the people of Judah who had remained had fallen further away from God. They had intermarried, and had even adopted the religions of those around them. But now a holy remnant was returning and Isaiah had written this for them.
While this passage does not parallel completely with our experience in the United States today. I do believe that there is a similarity because some of us lament when we think about what things used to be like. Isaiah 64:10-11 are really what we would call a lament. A person laments things when they look back on the past and they see that things used to be better. They lament that. They grieve over it. It hurts them. The returning exiles grieved what was their beautiful temple that now is burned with fire.
As a pastor of 61 years of age, having served the Lord, having been raised in Pentecostal churches, having been a missionary, having known and seen revival there are some things that I lament. I am going to kind of crack open my heart today. I am one of the most blessed individuals in America. In my early years of formation in my hometown of Worthington, Minnesota. I experienced the presence of God in ways that totally changed and transformed my life. I have scenes permanently etched in my mind, images of a church that knew how to pray and seek God. I have seen the glory of God. I have experienced it. There was a move of God that happened in our church when I was in my 20’s that caused all of the people in my age group to fully surrender their life to God. I don’t want to go in to all the details of that revival that local church saw, because revivals come and go, moves of God come and go. Things happen in one season where people are fired up for God, and then in the next season things wane.
But hear me today. I lament not seeing a stronger move of God in our world. Is there anyone who feels that way? I am thirsty and hungry to see God move again. I feel like I am a part of the remnant that’s attempting to be faithful. This season of Covid has been especially hard. Having times in the altar where we minister to one another has been difficult. Time spent with God in corporate settings seems to be diminished. I wonder is their anyone else but me who has this hunger, this thirst, this desire, this passion? Is there anyone who says, I just want to see God’s glory again. If there is anyone who feels like me?
If you do then, I want to show you scripturally today, what your prayer can be. Because I believe that prayer works. Especially when the remnant prays. I want to show you today the cry of the righteous remnant. And let me just say that this is a cry that comes out of a deep seated lament, where I look back and remember the moves of God.
The cry of the remnant is…
- GOD, COME DOWN
We want God to manifest his presence. This was the prophet’s cry. Isaiah 64:1-5 “Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
Come down! What a cry from the heart of the prophet. What a cry that shows the heart of the people of God.
- God, I need you!
- Come down.
- Show up.
- Be with me!
Sometimes it just feels like God is up in heaven, yes, we love and we adore him, and we worship him, and we bring him our tithes, and we study his word, we do our best to serve him. There are sometimes I just want to cry out, God I need a visitation. I need a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord! Come down! Rend the heavens. Take your mighty hands and remove whatever the barrier is….and come down and be with your people again. Is there anyone who has prayed that?
God! I want you to come down. I know you are mighty. I know You are high and lifted up. I know as well that You are the one that inhabits eternity. But I also know that you are the one the dwells with those who are humble and contrite in heart. Is that your prayer? Is that your longing? Do you say with the psalmist in Psalm 42, “When can I go and meet with God?” When you are on your way to your local church do you say, “I am expecting God to be there. I am expecting to sense his presence. Can I meet with God today?” That was the psalmist heart!
Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”
Every time in the Word when God manifested his presence his power and glory were felt. When Jesus was present on the earth, lepers were healed, the blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the mute spoke. When Jehovah manifested his presence in the Old Testament, the enemies of God were defeated, the kingdom advanced. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, God’s people received an empowerment to serve Him, lives were changed, people were set free.
But it is not just at church, where we need him.
- Lord rend the heavens and come down and inhabit my house.
- Lord rend the heavens and come down and be there in my business.
- Lord rend the heavens and come down and be with me when I get up
- When I leave the house.
- When I drive my car
- When I am at work
- When I am in a restaurant.
I just want and need you. And Isaiah started to remember how God had visited His people on Sinai. When God came down and manifested His presence the mountain shook and there was fire and smoke?
Let me tell you, that
a. His presence brings fire.
Isaiah 64:1b-2 “That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
As fire burns brushwood,
As fire causes water to boil—”
The presence of God brings fire. That fire destroys the enemies of God but it empowers his servants. The scripture says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” John said of Jesus in Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” We need some fire in the house of God! We need a fresh Pentecost. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn in us again and empower us! God wants for us to be on fire for him. When God touches us with his presence, it is like fire causing water to boil. There is movement, there is heat. And then…
b. His presence makes His Name known
Isaiah was looking back on the exodus from Egypt. He was thinking about how when the nations heard how the God of a bunch of slaves in Egypt, brought Egypt and all its might to his knees. When they heard how God dried up the Red Sea and passed through on dry ground. When they heard how Pharoah horses and riders were drowned in the sea. When they heard how God fed his people with manna in the wilderness for forty years. When they saw that same God dry up the Jordan, and the walls of Jericho fall. The name of the Lord became known. The people would say, there is no other God like the God of the Israelites.
Isaiah 64:2 “To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!”
That is why we need an outpouring of His Spirit in this nation. That the name of Jesus might become know. It is not important that my name becomes known. It is not important that the most famous preachers are known. The cry of the righteous remnant is that God’s name will be known. May the world know that Jesus Christ is still the same, yesterday, today and forever. May the nations once again tremble at the presence of the Lord, for He is holy and righteous and just. Do you want to make his name famous? And then…
c. His presence brings the miraculous
Isaiah remembers all the awesome things Tthat God did.
- The mountains shook.
- Water came out of a rock.
- That stream followed them in the desert.
- Manna fell from heaven.
- Quail were sent.
- Healings came when people were bit by serpents.
- Bitter waters were made sweet.
Isaiah 64:3 “When You did awesome things for which we did not look,
You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence.”
Do you still think our God is capable of doing awesome things? Maybe things you aren’t even looking for. God does not change. He specializes in things thought impossible and he can do what no other power can do! And then…
d. His is looking for those who are willing to wait on him.
Isaiah 64:4 “For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.”
God acts for the one who waits for him. Our culture is not set up to teach people how to wait. We want instant. We instantly change the channel. We scroll through things and our mind has an attention span of less than a second. We get upset if there is a long line at Whataburger. We want our money and we want it now! We buy on credit because we don’t want to wait.
Years ago, most people knew how to wait. You waited for the crops to grow. You waited for the calf to be born. You waited for the chicken to lay an egg. Today we are impatient. But God is looking for people who are willing to wait.
- Wait in prayer.
- Wait in worship.
- Wait in solitude.
- Wait in mediation.
I am just declaring that God acts on behalf of those who wait. Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” I feel like the Lord is telling somebody that you just need to wait a little longer.
- Don’t give up.
- Don’t give up on God.
- Don’t be weary.
God acts for those who wait! God sees those who remember God in their ways. And then…
e. He is looking for righteous praisers!
Isaiah 64:5 “You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.”
That is the winning combination right there my friend. God meets those who rejoice. Those who rejoice are the praise people. I’m not talking necessarily about those who praise the loudest at church. I am talking about rejoicing in life itself. Rejoicing in God. Paul said, rejoice and again I say rejoice. God will meet you when you rejoice.
And then he will meet when you do righteousness. God sees when you do what is right. When we walk in his ways, God will hear and see.0
And then the cry of the righteous remnant is
- GOD, FORGIVE MY SIN
Imagine walking up to a temple that was once beautiful and now its burned, a pile of ashes. It reminded them that they had sinned. Sometimes we look at the ashes of our life and we are reminded, we haven’t done everything right. We have sinned. And the remnant of that day would be quick to cry out to God for his forgiveness. The remnant is quick to acknowledge our need for Gods mercy, love, and forgiveness.
“You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away
And there is no one who calls on Your name,
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us,
And have consumed us because of our iniquities.”
Isaiah realizes what many people must have felt in that day. As they walked through the ruins of a city that had such promise before. As they saw the temple and lament that its beauty was gone. They felt like God had hidden his face from them. And sometimes we feel that way.
- Where are you God?
- Why don’t you intervene?
- Where is your healing power?
And it makes sense to those who are spiritually aware that when we feel that way. It might just be the enemy. But it could be that there are unconfessed things between you and the Lord. Isaiah the prophet was showing the way. He was saying, admit it. Tell God. Be honest. Tell him of your struggles. Pour your heart out and Isaiah knew that when the people get serious about the things in their life that aren’t pleasing to God. Isaiah knew that God was a God full of mercy. He is a God full of love. He is a God that cares. He is a God that forgives. He does not want to hide his face from us. But rather early in the book of Isaiah the invitation is given.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”
The cry of the remnant is not only that God would come down. But the cry of the remnant is that God would forgive our sin and heal our land. And sometimes that righteous remnant will intercede on behalf of others. Sometimes that will cry for the sins of the nation. Sometimes that remnant will acknowledge the failings and the weaknesses. The cry is God come down and God forgive! And then the cry of the remnant is…
- GOD, CHANGE MY LIFE
The next portion of scripture, I think is really the most important cry of the remnant. Isaiah has dealt with past. He has encouraged them to deal with their sinfulness. But now he turns to the present. God does not want you living in the past!
“But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.”
There is more to that appeal and that cry than a quick reading tells us. Although the words Change me Lord are not present in the verse. The concept and the idea is. The cry of the remnant is to be changed and to be made more like Jesus every day. The cry of the remnant is for personal transformation.
You know there are a lot of people who just kind of say, I guess this is just the way I am. My daddy always had a temper and so do I. My mom was a person who was depressed and it just kind of runs in our family. And so they tell themselves, there is not much I can do to change. And sometimes they try to change themselves on their own, and they find it hard. The truth is that there are patterns of thinking and ways of acting that do become ingrained in us. And some people give up ever changing. They tell themselves. I will always be this way. I can never be different. Listen, stop believing the lies of the enemy!
Isaiah gives us reason to show us how we can be changed! He tells us…
“But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;”
The influence of a father on his family and on his children is huge. Maybe today, you look back on your father and you see shortcomings and problems. I have had people tell me, it was dad who got me involved in some of the negative aspects of their life. But when you become a believer, something changes. God becomes your Father. And He is a good Father. A good Father rewards good behavior, and disciplines bad behavior. A good Father is present. A good Father encourages. A good Father pushes his children to be strong, to be mature. If you pray to your father a prayer that says, Change me. God the Father will put you in a process of change. At times he might discipline you.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
When you are disciplined by our heavenly Father we know we are his son. And then he says,
“We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.”
Just like a potter forms the clay, even so when God puts his hand on us, he forms us and reshapes us into what he wants us to be. Jeremiah went down to the potters house, and he was watching the potter work with the clay. And there was a bit of impurity in the clay, maybe a little stone, and as he was working with it, It says that the pot was marred in the hands of the potter. But the potter didn’t get stressed. He didn’t throw the clay away, he simply remade it into another vessel that was beautiful.
That is what God does for you and me.
“ Do not be furious, O Lord,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!”
Isaiah wanted the remnant of that day to have an identity. The identity was not that they were a people from Babylon. No! he said, we all are Your people. You are a son and a daughter of God. A righteous remnant. May this be your cry.
- God come down.
- God forgive our sin.
- God change our lives.