Prayer for Mercy and Help
64 Oh, that You would tear open the heavens and come down,
That the mountains might quake at Your presence—
As [sure as] fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome and amazing things which we did not expect,
You came down [at Sinai]; the mountains quaked at Your presence.
For from days of old no one has heard, nor has ear perceived,
Nor has the eye [a]seen a God besides You,
Who works and acts in behalf of the one who [gladly] waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices in doing that which is morally right,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
Indeed, You were angry, for we sinned;
We have long continued in our sins [prolonging Your anger].
And shall we be saved [under such circumstances]?
For we all have become like one who is [ceremonially] unclean [like a leper],
And all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags;
We all wither and decay like a leaf,
And our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing], like the wind, takes us away [carrying us far from God’s favor, toward destruction].(A)
There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who awakens and causes himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have handed us over to the [consuming and destructive] power of our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing].(B)
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our Potter,
And we all are the work of Your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord,
Do not remember our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] forever.
Now look, consider, for we are all Your people.
[b]Your holy cities have become a wilderness,
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful house [the temple built by Solomon],
Where our fathers praised You,
Has been burned by fire;
And all our precious objects are in ruins.
Considering these [tragedies], will You restrain Yourself, O Lord [and not help us]?
Will You keep silent and humiliate and oppress us beyond measure?
- Isaiah 64:4 Or seen, O God, besides You, what He will do.... The ancient rabbis favored this translation or a variation of it, and some suggested that the unexpressed object (what) is wine preserved since the creation, or Eden. They all applied this verse to the future that follows the millennial kingdom, and was mostly a mystery to them. Heaven, or specifically the New Jerusalem, that follows the kingdom was partially revealed to John in Revelation. There is a story in the Talmud that when King Ahasuerus held a great banquet in Susa for seven days (Esth 1:5), he arrogantly asked the Jews if God could do better for them than that. They quoted this line to him in reply, and said that in the time to come if God provided nothing better for them than this feast, they could tell Him that they had already enjoyed such a feast at the table of Ahasuerus.
- Isaiah 64:10 After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in a.d. 70 it became a religious tradition among the rabbis to recite vv 10 and 11 and to rip a tear in their robes whenever they saw the ruins.