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Isaiah 63:16b – 64:8
A Reason for Hope
I. Reality check: There is despair when there should be hope.
A. The reason for hope:
1. God is our father (63:16)
a. KJV starts this verse with “doubtless” – certainty.
b. “Father” – Hebrew word is “ab” – this is the child’s simply cry.
2. God is our redeemer (63:16)
a. “Redeemer” is the kinsman redeemer (explain)
b. This is based on God’s name/character and His relationship with us.
B. The agony of despair:
1. We have wandered. (63:17)
a. “you make us” is implied, not in the text.
b. “wander” means to err, vacillate, reel, stray.
c. “the way” is the course of life that is God’s best for us.
2. We have hardened our heart. (63:17)
a. “harden” means to lose the sense of feeling. The Hebrew is “qashach” and means an unnatural hardening (like a mother toward her child).
b. “heart” is the feeling, the will, the intellect, the center of being.
3. We are trampled down. (63:18)
a. “trampled” means to be loathed and disrespected.
b. They had been given over to their enemies and God had not rescued them...
II. Hope starts with an honest heart cry. (64:1) “Oh”
A. We are in need. “Rend the heavens” (64:1)
1. This is a cry to end the separation.
a. It seems that God does not intervene in human affairs, yet He does!
b. Key is the presence of God.
1.) When Moses didn’t want to go back to Egypt God said “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12)
2.) Moses learned this lesson and at a critical moment said to God, “Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15 – 16)
3.) One thing the church can do that no other organization can do, one thing the Christian can do that nobody else can do: Offer salvation through Jesus Christ.
4.) This can only happen when God’s presence is with us!
2. Yes, there is a “silver bullet.” (Answer to everything.)
a. Of the various ideas that hold out hope, there is only one that is real. His name is Jesus!
b. The answers and solutions we have are not “magical” or “mystical.” They are a living person. His name is Jesus!
B. We are desperate for God to act (64:3 – 5)
1. We are dependent on God.
a. (64:4) God acts on behalf of those who WAIT for Him.
1.) Not those that run ahead, they are on their own.
2.) The only way to wait for God when everything screams “do something, anything!” is to trust God.
b. (64:5) God comes to help those who gladly do right.
(Ill.) In the TV series Firefly, in the episode “The Great Train Robbery,” the captain has agreed to a job to steal something. After finding out that it is medicine, which is badly needed, he decides to break his contract and return the stolen medicine. The sherif catches him returning the medicine and says something to the effect that people take jobs that they don’t understand but when the truth is known they have to a choice to make. The captain’s answer was, “No, I don’t have a choice.”
Gladly doing what is right is not a choice. It is gladly doing what is right. Those choices have already been made by our character and direction in life. Those are the people God helps.
2. The presence of God dramatically illustrated on the cross.
a. When Jesus died the veil was torn from top to bottom. For the first time in history, anyone could look in and see the “mercy seat” and the glory of God.
b. When Jesus body was broken, He was that veil that opened the way into the presence of God.
III. Hope works through honest frailty.
A. (64:6) The truth about our “righteousness:” Its garbage, only a crust covering the state of our uncleanness.
1. Ugly images:
a. “unclean” (the image of a leper)
b. “filthy rags” (the image of garment that caught the menstrual flow)
c. “shriveled leaf” (dryness and helplessness)
2. Uglier reality:
a. (64:6) Our actions are contaminated.
b. (64:7) Our efforts are deceptive.
B. In helplessness there is victory. (64:8)
1. God is STILL our Father!
a. “But now” (KJV) at this time, even with the nonsense.
b. Which implies that God is still the redeemer.
2. God is the potter.
(Ill.) We were someplace where someone was demonstrating the art of pottery making. They were squeezing the lump of clay into a shape, but it was not right. They tried again to squeeze it into another shape. They flattened it out, cut off a piece and tried again. Still they were not satisfied so the potter took the clay off the wheel and smashed it against the wall. Surprised, I asked why? The reason was that the clay had to be reformed because of a lump that would not yield to the potter’s hand until it was broken up. Only smashing it against the wall could break up the lump.
a. The work of the potter figuratively meant “to cause distress.”
b. The Heavenly Potter makes us what He wants for His own reasons. Sometimes He has to break us or crush us, but the end result is what He wants – not what we want.
1. Turn to God. He is not indifferent. He cares.
2. Learn to trust and obey God. Your efforts are stinky, smelly, and weak. God want to give you the real thing.
3. Know that God loves you and is delighted in you. Yes, He may have to break up a lump or two like pride or envy but that’s only so He loves you enough to bring the change into your life.