“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” These are the shocking words of the prophet from Isa 64:1. Doesn’t that sound somewhat appealing right now? With all that’s going on in our country and in our world, wouldn’t you want God to come down and straighten things out?
There’s a little catch to this thought. We might think we want God to rip open the heavens and straighten things out. But there’s the little matter of who God would be fixing. When God “comes down” to make the world right, God doesn’t just correct the problems we want corrected. God’s appearance might not be so interesting when you ponder to realize what God might do.
Here’s a paraphrase of how the prophet clarifies his wish for God’s appearance, “But we sinned. We thought you had left us. We got scared when we felt things weren’t going right. We panicked and behaved very badly. We have really messed up. Oops!”
In other words, if God were to tear open the heavens and come down, God’s work would start with God’s own people. “There is none who is righteous. No not one.” If God were to start fixing the world, the first one God would have to deal with is us, God’s own people.
It’s much more appealing for me to think God would come down and fix the Democrats. They seriously need some help. Or how about a little help in the White House? Can anyone straighten out that chaos? Perhaps God would show up in Russia or North Korea or Venezuela. We know how messed up they are! Most of us have little trouble seeing the faults of others. I know your mistakes. I’d very much like God to come down and deal with you.
But each one of us, including me, has more than enough problems in our lives to keep God busy for a very long time. That’s what leads the prophet to this beautiful statement: “Yet you, O Lord, are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our Potter; we are the work of your hand” (Isa 64:8). The wish for God to tear open the heavens and come down has to be a request for God to work in our life. Any other wish ignores the teachings of the prophets and of Jesus himself.
As scary as it sounds to let God mold us as God wills, that’s in fact what the prophet is wishing for. God has transformative work and healing to do in our life. We need God’s help! I’d rather live as clay on the God’s potter wheel than be ignored by God. I want to be shaped by God, as painful as this may be. Don’t you?