Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him. – Isaiah 64:1-4
Have you ever wanted God to show up? Have you ever wished that he would lay your enemies low and take his stand for all to see? Mockers scoff at God with impunity. Those who dismiss God’s ways and scorn God’s laws live in ease. It’s enough to make me wish for an Ananias and Sapphira moment in the church today (cf. Acts 5:1-10). Once in a while if God would just show up on power and might and teach those who deride God’s laws and ways a lesson!
It’s not like God cannot do this. Think of the Exodus and the angel of death striking the first-born of those who did not have the blood of the Passover lamb on their door frames. Consider the way Elijah slaughtered the prophets of Baal. What about Gideon or the battle of Jericho? Seems like God can do these mighty acts of radical comeuppance.
It seems, however, that Isaiah is pointing us in a new and better direction. The problem with calling on God to judge is that we may well end up being judged by God. We ourselves may be just as guilty of sin as we accuse others of being.
In the end God does not want to be famous for smiting people. He is not interested in being known for laying people low. He rejoices at the repentance of sinners, not the annihilation of peoples. He welcomes and rejoices in repentant sinners’ contrition. He is more delighted in mercy more than he is satisfied by retribution.
Isaiah says there is no other God who acts in favor for those who wait for him. No other god acts in that way. No other god will bring you hope and joy. No other god will save you.