Isaiah 64: An Advent Reflection

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God, oh that you would come down.

Isaiah stands in this strange moment in chapter 64 of wanting, hoping, and longing for God’s good world to be realized, yet looking around at destruction, hopelessness, and sin, realizing there may be no way out. Isaiah has seen the future vision of the new Jerusalem, and has believed that God would break in and do something only God could do; yet Isaiah finds himself in a moment of doubt. Not that Isaiah doubts the goodness of God, but the vision Isaiah has seen is not the reality around him. Isaiah sees the vision of the new Jerusalem, yet looks around and can’t seem to find any glimpse that God is actually on the throne. In fact, it seems that God is absent. Thus Isaiah declares, “oh that you would just rend the mountains and come down” and make the world right.

That’s really what we all want; the world to be made right. We want a world where everyone has healthcare. Where healthcare isn’t reserved for the rich and healthy, but even for the poor and sick. We want a world where everyone has food to eat and a home for shelter. Where children don’t go to bed hungry at night, or walk for miles just for unclean water. We want a world where violence is destroyed. Where others don’t hate based on culture, religion, skin color, or sexual preference. We want a world that is right.

But not just the greater world, we want our own world to be right. We want relationships to be meaningful. We dream of perfect marriages and perfect families. But life is hard, relationships are hard, and even death takes our loved ones away. We dream of fulfilling occupations; careers that make a difference in the world and provide us with satisfaction. But sometimes our hours get cut, or our positions eliminated. We want life to be perfect, but we have bills, health issues, broken appliances…when will our lives mirror the promises God has made?

That’s the spot Isaiah is in. Isaiah knows that at some point God will create the New Heavens, that the mountain of the Lord will be established, that the poor will be set free, and the brokenhearted supported. Isaiah knows all of this is real, yet Isaiah wonders, when Lord? How Long? Why won’t you show up and do something about the mess we’ve created?

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down. If only you would step into our world and make the mountains quake. You’ve done awesome things before: crossing the Red Sea, defeating Goliath, and sending down fire on Mt. Carmel to defeat the prophets of Baal. Why won’t you show up now? If you would come down the whole world would turn to you. If you would come down, the nations would repent and flock to Mt. Zion. Why are you silent? Why are you absent? Your absence has caused sin to increase, and the world to fall apart. Oh, that you would just come down and make the world right.

But now, but even now Lord, you are our Father. We are simply clay, but you are the potter. Even now, you can mold us and this world by the work of your hands.

Oh God, if you would just come down.

And God did.

But not in the big and flashy: the earthquake or wind. God came down in the unlikeliest of ways. God came as a baby born to a virgin mother and her carpenter husband. God came down to our world, and started to set it right. God taught us blessed are the poor, the meek, and those who mourn. God showed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. God demonstrated that even though Jesus is God, he did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but Jesus emptied himself, took on death, and defeated death, in order to make the world right. God did rend open the heavens and come down. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David who showed up as the slaughter lamb is victorious, and history is now unfolding toward a good future.

God wasn’t silent, and God isn’t silent. God wasn’t absent, and God isn’t absent.

We look around us at times wondering why sin is running rampant while the world, and our lives, are spinning out of control. We wonder, how could God allow things to get so bad? We think, God if you would just come down. But God did come down. God became flesh to set the world right. And God will come down again. We live in that hope. The hope of the second coming. The hope of the New Creation.

As we live we wait in anticipation. Not for the birth of a child, but for the hope that the world is being made right. That now, even if unseen to us, God is the potter molding the world into rightness.

There will be times when we want to shout with the prophet, God if you would just come down. In hope God answers, I did…and I will!

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!