64 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2 [a] as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5 You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.[b]
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered[c] us into the hand of our iniquity.
8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
The narrator in today’s reading from Isaiah reminds me of the pigeon in Mo Willems’ books who employs every possible tactic from pleading to tantrums to logic, trying to get what it wants: stay up late, eat a hot dog, get a puppy, drive a bus. As readers we never see or hear the other side of the conversation. We just see the pigeon go through emotional and verbal gyrations until it is exhausted.
The author of Isaiah 64 isn’t much different. First there is beseeching God to “tear open the heavens and come down.” Then there is admission of guilt and blaming: “But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.” The last two lines range from humility and pleading, “We are all the work of your hand . . . do not remember iniquity forever,” to bargaining, “Now consider, we are all your people.” Reading all that talking makes me wonder what the author would notice if they stopped and listened. Would they hear God? Would they see how God has already come down, is already present?
Much like the old adage that when you point at someone your other four fingers are pointing back at you, my interpretation says something about me. This semester I learned about the Reformation principle “Scriptura sui ipsius interpres,” which means, “the Scripture is itself the interpreter.” This means that Scripture is not a passive object; it interprets the reader. What it reveals to you, or me, also reveals something about us as individuals.
In case you didn’t already know, the poor pigeon never does get what it wants. Thankfully, we do. God might be hard to see or hear sometimes, especially if we are being loud, but God is here.
Merciful God, help us to be still, and quiet, that we might see and hear your presence. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Written by Kristen Schmid Schurter
Director of Spiritual Gifts Ministries