Daily Devotional

November 23, 2018

Daybreak: Isaiah 64:1-12

“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

Isobel Kuhn, missionary to the Lisu tribesmen of China, learned a priceless lesson about submission. In her book, In the Arena, she wrote about how, early in her preparation to become a missionary, a fellow Christian’s example of a submissive state of mind had impacted the whole course of her own life.

Marjorie Harrison, a talented young candidate for the mission field, had looked forward to going to China for years. She had carefully saved her earnings to pay for her own provisions and passage to China, but when the time came, the mission board determined that her health was too delicate to withstand pioneer life in the Far East. Marjorie took the blow like a true soldier of the Lord, and quietly accepted the decision that spelled the end of her dreams and plans of a lifetime. After receiving the news, Marjorie went to her room and knelt down beside her bed. She prayed, “Lord, this money I have saved — I cannot take it back. Will You help me to find someone to go to China in my place?” No one but the Lord knew of that offering or the cost of her submission, but that very evening, a dinner guest at the family table spoke of the financial need of another young woman, Isobel Kuhn, who longed to go to China but could not afford it. Marjorie said nothing, but her heart sprang up with joy at the clear answer to her prayer. The connection was made, and through Marjorie’s gift, Isobel was able to go to China.

Submission is a key element in the successful Christian life. In our focus verse, Isaiah acknowledges that God is the Creator of our very being. As we submit to His plan for us, God shapes us into His image, just as a potter shapes and re-shapes clay into a beautiful and useful vessel of honor. 

There is “shaping” value even in the seemingly small events that come our way. Today, let us accept with peace and grace the circumstances that come our way, yielding ourselves fully into God’s loving hands.

Background

Chapter 64 continues the prayer of Isaiah who was longing for visible divine intervention that Israel might be protected from her adversaries. In the first few verses, the prayer was that God would come down in great power and judgment upon their oppressors. When God gave the Law at Mount Sinai, He had manifested Himself mightily to Israel through smoke, thunder, and an earthquake. Isaiah felt if the nations who oppressed them saw such a demonstration, they would tremble from fear.

Verse 4 shows the eternal nature of God and that there is no one equal to Him. (The Apostle Paul referred to this verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9, although he did not quote it exactly.) Verse 5 shows that in spite of the awesomeness of God, He will meet those who are righteous. 

Sin, the hindrance to this relationship with God, is addressed beginning with verse 6. Isaiah saw that Israel fell short of God’s requirements, and therefore was unclean, like the garments of a leper. The religious actions of the people did not cleanse them because they did not come with the proper attitude of heart. Therefore, their righteousness was “as filthy rags,” and they faded as dried leaves and could be easily swept away spiritually. Still, they did not pray for mercy. The word consumed at the end of verse 7 indicates that because of their iniquities they had “melted” — all their strength was lost.

In verse 8, Isaiah reminded God on behalf of the righteous that He was their Father, and they were the product of His own making. Saying they were the clay and God the potter indicated submissiveness and being yielded to God. They wanted God to make them into what they should be. Verse 9 was an eloquent cry for God to mitigate His wrath, which their nation deserved, and give them mercy. 

Isaiah looked ahead and saw that their land, including Jerusalem, would be desolate, and the Temple would be burned with fire. Isaiah ended his prayer with three questions. Would God restrain Himself from answering their prayers because of the land’s and Temple’s desolation? Would He be silent (hold His peace)? Would He afflict them exceedingly — to the full extreme? The last two chapters of the Book of Isaiah give the answer. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and
       enriching 
       C.   The provision for deliverance (future glory) 
              3.   The prayer of the remnant for mercy 
                    a.   The prayer request
                          (3)   The realization of His power (64:1-3)
                          (4)   The confession of Israel’s guilt (64:4-7)
                          (5)   The plea for mercy (64:8-12)

A Closer Look

  1. What relationship between God and Israel does this prayer reference?
     
  2. Why did Isaiah say, “Be not wroth very sore”?
     
  3. How can we show God that we acknowledge His greatness?

Conclusion

Are you submitted to the Lord, knowing that He is the potter of your life and therefore in control? You will find peace when you have yielded to Him in that way.

Reference Materials