Father… Do Things We Are Not Looking For!!!

Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!  That the mountains might shake at your presence—As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—To make Your name know to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!  When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence.  For since the beginning of the world men have not perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.  You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways.  You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue; and need to be saved.
                                                                          (Isaiah 64:1-5)
While walking in my neighborhood yesterday, I read the above passage of scripture.  This passage, written by the prophet Isaiah, shows the desperation of a man who really loved God and desired to see His glory among his people.  The sentence, “When you did awesome things for which we did not look”, is very illustrative of why we so often miss the will and plan of God, as well as His many blessings; we are usually looking for the wrong thing.  Isaiah knew this very well.  In fact one of the most explicit passages about Jesus act of redemption in the Old Testament, was given to Isaiah by the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 53.  In spite of the undeniable revelation of the Messiah being a suffering servant unto death, for the atonement of the prophet’s people, Israel was not looking for Him.  Subsequently, on the day of atonement (even today) they do not read Isaiah 53, and in their rabbinic teachings have claimed the “man of sorrows” is the nation of Israel, in complete error.  Isaiah knew his people needed God to come in such a way that was undeniably God.  It is my opinion, Christian leaders need this same desperate cry today.
Interestingly, Isaiah’s plea runs counter to our general way of “seeking” the Lord for movement in ministry in our day.  We have gotten away from an unmitigated and undignified desperation.  We ask for wisdom and for His blessing and sufficiency on our multitude of idea’s to grow the church, and amplify our creativity.  We seek provision for the general consensus on how we should minister, and pray for power to affirm our ministering of the Word.  Yet, in such a dark night in America, why are the 300,000 plus churches not making more of an explosive impact?  I offer, we are not desperate like the prophet.  We believe if we work hard enough, and have right belief and practice, and possibly enough charisma, we will win eventually.  To this I offer this quote… “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
Isaiah was as right as they come, Israel had some good practice in his day, and even some godly kings, who worked to clean up the raw sewage of occult religion that had crept into vogue; yet something was still off… “You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue; and we need to be saved.  But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.  And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself us to take hold of You(Vs. 5-7a)”.  In spite of a return to right practice, and a fervency in it that was commendable, that is where they stopped.  It is for this reason their practice was like a filthy menstrual rag to the Lord.  Because they stopped short, the old ways (iniquities) were still conducting their life.  Religious self righteousness is one of the oldest ways of iniquity. Therefore they were not seeking Him with all their heart.  They did not understand nor have a desire to pursue the presence of Almighty God, who wanted to be Immanuel “God with us”.  
The word of the Lord should cut us to the heart for the church in the U.S. has been walking in similar paths.  Some would conjecture, in error, that this is not the state of the church in America and Isaiah’s words apply only to Israel.  I offer to you that God is the same yesterday today and forever.  The Lord declares in Isaiah 63:10, to Israel, who rebelled against Him, “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; so He turned Himself against them as an enemy, and He fought against them”; He has spoken similarly to His church at as well at times.  Recall Jesus own admonition and warning to the Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2), where they lost Him as their first love.  Jesus said if they did not repent He would remove their lamp-stand.  This refers to the loss of their witness as a body of believers, the loss of the ministry to be the ones who “proclaim the praises of the one who called them out of darkness and into His marvelous light”.  If that is not clear enough let the scriptures speak again.  In Revelation 2:12-17, we meet the compromising church of Pergamos.  This group of believers had a host of sin they refused to deal with, therefore Jesus warns them in verse 16 “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth”.  It is well established, in any geography, the church can fall into a similar state as Israel, as described in our passage for today.
This is why Isaiah calls for God to do something awesome, terrible and amazing.  He is asking for the Lord to split the dark cold sky of their cultural religiosity, to shock them with the electricity of His presence and power, in such a fashion that they can not ignore God has come into the presence of His people.  Isaiah knew that in spite of all his best efforts and pitch perfect theology and prophetic thunder, God needed to prove the message with His thunderous presence.  He uses very descriptive language.
Rend the Heavens, Come down, That Your Presence Shake Mountains
Isaiah’s words are a foreshadowing of the last shaking to come when Jesus in the fullness of His Kingdom power, returns to shake all things.  The power of the Kingdom is in the Presence of it’s King, the Blessed and only Potentate.  Even though we wait for the unshakable Kingdom, we must also remember that God began this rending of the heavens in Jesus first advent.  He split the darkness of demonic dominion and sin, when Emmanuel was born of a virgin.  The world has never been the same.  Yet when He ascended into heaven, God did not pull back His power towards us.  Through Christ, who is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire, He continues to rend the heavens, through those who wait on Him and receive the fullness of Pentecost.  Isaiah said as much in our passage… “
For since the beginning of the world men have not perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him”.  Why would Isaiah, a man who was the best of the best in Israel, be looking for more of God than He had already encountered (Read Isaiah 6)?  Because His obedience to God’s calling was not enough to awaken the sleepers in Israel.  God Himself needed to move on them as no one had ever considered.  In our time, although Christ has come, we are wore thin by our good effort to proclaim truth… “I would have fainted, lest I believed to see the glory of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13)”.   Consider the apostles themselves.  Did they not walk with Jesus forty days after His resurrection and have the scriptures opened to them by the Master Himself?  Yes, Yes, Yes!!!  Yet they still need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire.  We need Him to rend the heavens and come down and SHAKE our persons and SHAKE our fellowships.  We need invasion into our orderly inefficiency, that He would make the world around us SHAKE.

When He Does Awesome Things We Are Not Looking For

At the risk of being labeled a fanatic, I offer that we in the American Church have a Christian faith of power in the past, but promotion in the present.  We, like Israel, have become promoters of programs, people and venues.  Because we have degraded our calling to promotion of what we have and what we can do for the people around us, through our various gifts and talents, we have not looked for what really opens the blinded eyes of those held captive by Satan.  May every man of God tire of waiting till next year or next season or next push or the next machination to see God’s glory among the saints or salvation in uncounted multitudes.  May the Lord like Isaiah before us, convince us that our only return to effectiveness, is in Him doing what we don’t expect or look for… Showing up in our midst in a way that convicts us of our sinful and apathetic heart.  Note, Isaiah included himself in the confession of his people’s sins.

His Presence Judges And Purifies From Pathogens
Isaiah describes the effectiveness of God’s presence among us, by equating His personal presence as a fire that burns brushwood.  We must remember that Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, told us that judgement has come to the house of God.  Judgment is a dividing out and consuming of what does not belong.  In light of Jesus Words in John15:1-8, we understand that every branch in Him that does not bear fruit is taken and cast into the fire.  Some have conjectured wrongly that this is a purging fire.  These branches in Him that bear no fruit are consumed.  This is important because it is the authentic and powerful union of Jesus with His disciple, in the fulness of His Holy Spirit, that exposes the carnal, the pretender, the fruitless branch.  Do we need this in our midst today?  Without fail, as the church has lost its ability to discern or have become to afraid of being labeled judgmental, to exercise its call to know them by their fruits.  Oh that He would rend the heavens and reveal the authentic believer from the pretender.  Be encouraged to see this principal in action in Acts 8:14-24, where a man baptized and continuing as a believer is found to not be right in the sight of God, having never repented.
In Isaiah’s day the boiling of water was as necessary to their survival as their need to breath.  Not having massive systems of water treatment, water born illnesses, drastically raised mortality rates the world over.  It is for this reason, Isaiah’s words about God’s Presence being like a fire boiling water are so necessary.  We understand that when water does not move it tends to stagnate.  When in this state, it becomes undrinkable for pathogens (little bad disease causing organisms) multiply.  In order for the non moving water to be fresh again it must be boiled to kill the sickness causing stuff.  Well church, over time as we have not been moved with His river of Living Water, we have stagnated and spiritual pathogens have grown, sickening our fellowships and effectiveness in the world.  This is why we need Him to rend the heavens.  We can not produce the heart necessary to kill the confusion, disunity, selfishness, carnality, apathy and wordiness that had festered for so long.  We can identify its effects, yet we are powerless with out the fire of His holy presence.  Oh that God would rend the heavens and come down, to bring sufficient heat to kill the spiritual infections growing for far to long.
My hope is that this message is not a downer, but a reminder that God waits for us to encounter Isaiah-like desperation.  In the many years I have attempted to serve God, I am more convinced today, that apart from Him I can do nothing.  You know this as well.  You love the Lord, explain things right, want to live righteously for His sake.  You pray that God would transform and change and redeem and reconcile things in your life and those around you.  You expend energy toward those ends, yet you are left wanting.  You know what it is like to say, Father will it ever change, only to not wait for an answer.  Oh that we would get desperate, like Isaiah, asking Him to do what we have never asked for.  He has promised He will….  ” Now unto Him who is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21)”.   Oh, that HE would REND the heavens and COME DOWN!!!  

About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Assembly of God Fellowship. He is the lead pastor at Encounter Church in Fostoria Ohio. His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, being led and empowered by His Spirit. To Jesus Christ be all glory and honor.
This entry was posted in Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Desperation, God's Presence, God's Word. Holy Spirit, pathogens, rend the heavens, revival, spiritual sickness. Bookmark the permalink.

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