Monday, November 28, 2011

A Prayer of Vengeance

“Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—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!”

How many here have prayed that prayer recently? As recently as this morning? I was in New York for thanksgiving, hearing about and seeing massive amounts of idol worship in the form of consumerism, technologism, scientism, darwinism, individualism, selfism, marxism—pick an “ism!” We went to the 9/11 memorial and read the names of the deceased around the square fountains. We read a long woman's name and realized that the last half of the name was actually “and unborn child.” Let's add fanaticism to the list.

The first two verses of Isaiah 64 is a request that God come down as judge . . . and destroyer. We want deliverance from the world's tyranny. Mad-made global warming may be a myth, but man-made storms sure aren't. The weather has nothing on the chaos that can be waged when the passions of rulers come into play. We work hard on something, exhaust ourselves day and night, and then the project results in nothing—worthless.

We are miserable because we believe ourselves to be gods. Why do we do this? Because we cannot believe in a God who is completely unlike us. God's ways are not our ways. His purposes are not our purposes. What we need is a God who is very much like a man, and so we put ourselves in that place. Isaiah here is also looking for that man—the true man. This is the man who would manifest the ways and purposes of the true God, so we can understand them and not put ourselves in God's place. Think of a thick veil keeping God's light from reaching us. Now think of someone being able to remove that veil. That is the man we are talking about. We would know that God was among us and that he was ruling us and judging us. This man would be a shelter from that man-made storm of ruler passions I talked about earlier.

So, we may have uttered something like this prayer recently. Also, how many of us are scared of such a prayer? This may be a prayer that we would not want to come to pass. Part of us wants to keep God a distance, especially to keep his VENGEANCE at distance. We don't want God to make things right on that chance that we will find ourselves on the wrong side of such a correction. So, this becomes our religion. We want God to help us in our plight, but we don't really want him to lift us completely out of it. We want him to forgive our sins, but we don't want him to free us completely from sin. We bury ourselves in this alternate religion, this moralistic therapeutic deism, a religion that feeds our flesh and our worldly desires, and avoids real religion—the religion of the prayer of Isaiah 64:1-2. While our flesh desires the false religion, our souls desire the true religion. Our souls desire to encounter God's vengeance. Our souls long to be face to face with Him.

Our flesh wants to be protected from God, so we must avoid praying the prayer! However, our souls know that God is there to protect us from ourselves. God is there to raise us out of the slavery that we invented for ourselves. So, our souls inwardly rejoice at the prayer, and at the same time, our flesh trembles. The world trembles, too, because this prayer destroys kings and raises the poor to heavenly heights.

Isaiah prayed this prayer, and saw the man who was to remove the veil, who was going to put an understandable face on the unfathomable God. Unto us a Child is born, he prophesied. Unto us a Son is given. He is the shelter from the storm, because He is both Son of man and Son of God. Jesus is God appearing and the heavens being torn open. Jesus causes the mountains to quake and the nations to tremble. As one elected leader once said that upon his nomination, the rise of the oceans began to slow.” Our flesh becomes elated at such a prospect. Jesus is the opposite. When he comes, things are going to really shake up, and the oceans will probably rise. Our flesh will quake with fear, but our souls will rejoice.