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Beginning January 1, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the next 31 days. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. 

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Read Isaiah 64

64 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
    and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
    and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
    you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
    who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
    you were angry.
    How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
    or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
    and have given us over to our sins.


Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
    do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
    for we are all your people.
10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland;
    even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you,
    has been burned with fire,
    and all that we treasured lies in ruins.
12 After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back?
    Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?

Go Deeper

This chapter continues with Israel’s prayer as they plead with the Lord to “look down from heaven” and deliver the believing remnants. The lamenting people appeal for divine favor, remember God’s past faithfulness, and confess their unworthiness before Him. The Israelites had received favor from God, yet they turned their backs on Him and worshiped false gods. God claimed their righteous deeds to be unclean. Isaiah is aware that the natural human condition is uncleanliness. In Isaiah’s vision in chapter 6, he declares, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (6:5). When Isaiah gets a glimpse of God’s holiness, he clearly sees the uncleanliness of himself and of the people. This is the same language used in the book of Leviticus, that the people’s uncleanliness caused separation between them and God. 

In this chapter, the remnant of Israel confessed their unworthiness before the Lord. They say that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (v. 6). The Isrealites found their confidence in their own self-righteousness, and God compared their righteousness to “filthy rags.” Our good deeds are tainted by our sinful motives. Romans tell us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23). Our sin makes us unclean and unworthy to be in a relationship with Him (v. 6). We can not escape our brokenness on our own, and our good acts can not save us. Martin Luther once said that “the most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man was the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God.” Everything we do for a holy God is polluted by our sin. There is nothing we can ever do to work our way up to Him. 

But God, because of His great love, sent His one and only Son to save us from the power of sin and death. Jesus came into this world and took the humble position of a servant. He lived the life that we could never live and died the death that we deserve, so that by believing in Him, we can have a relationship with God forever. Every single one of Jesus’ acts were righteous and pure. He knew that we could never live a perfect life on our own. Jesus paid the price for our sin, so that we can be declared righteous before the Lord. He did the work on our behalf. 

We can’t earn our way into Heaven. We can not work to be justified. If we had to work our way to get to God, either Jesus died for nothing, or His death was insufficient to cover our sins. Jesus saved us, not by works we have done in righteousness, but according to His own mercy (Titus 3:5). Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” We respond to the free gift of salvation by our works, but our works will never save us. We get to walk in the freedom of this reality, and that is good news for us today!


  1. What are some ways that you try to work to receive favor with God? 
  2. What does this chapter teach you about the character of man?
  3. Who is someone you can share this good news with today?

Keep Digging

Isaiah 64:6 says that “all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags”, but why? And what does that even mean? Check out this helpful article from!

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5 thoughts on “Isaiah 64”

  1. I know that I know that God is so amazing to me. Everyday things occur that there is no way that it wasn’t divine intervention. Slowly I am getting better at seeking God sometimes before the moment, quickly in the moment, and often after the moment but also to thank Him for showing His hands in the situations. Truly I see miracles everyday or what I feel is miracles of sorts. Not like me being dead and He giving me life again kind but paper work that seems undoable that I pray over and it is done with little to no problems. For a person who is process of ” recovering stressor” this is a miracle. Seeing an argument taking place in my household but stepping back and praying to watch it unfold well is a miracle but it takes my action. So as we all go forth into this new year we can go into it looking to do our part with God so that everyday we have those beautiful miracles to give grateful thanks for!!!

    God once more there are no words. To worship, You to lie at Your feet and give You reverence. To feel Your sweet love flow over, and through me. Thank You that I can give that back to the world around me. Give me Your love goggles and show how to love them for You. God thank You beyond words or measure for the miracles You perform in Jesus name amen!!!

  2. “What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Robert Lowry composed this hymn in 1876 to remind us what truly saves us from sin, the precious blood of Christ. Our best efforts are still impure and infected with sin. Today, let’s strip away and cast off sins that ensnare & entangle us and by faith accept Christ’s sacrifice as payment to cover them. How amazing that he made a way to be welcomed and received into the presence of God!

  3. Before I met Jesus at age 50, versus like this would confuse me, as I truly thought I was an incredibly, “good person”

    All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
    we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6

    When I met Jesus – It changed my life forever and the depths of God’s Holiness (which is still far beyond my comprehension) combined with Him being just (sin has to be accounted for – paid for) and then flooded by His mercy…it revealed to me for the first time ever the depths of my depravity. And, just as I still do not fully comprehend God’s Holiness – I learned that day, I still don’t comprehend the depths of my depravity.

    The mystery of my Holiness before God because of the cross – is well explained below by Oswald Chambers – if – you can stay in step with his discourse, which sometimes by the grace of God, I can.

    To mistake freedom from sin only on the conscious level of our lives for complete deliverance from sin by the atonement through the Cross of Christ is a great error. No one fully knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what Jesus Christ faced at Calvary. The evidence that I have been delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. For a person to really know what sin is requires the full work and deep touch of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the imparting of His absolute perfection.

    The Holy Spirit applies or administers the work of the atonement to us in the deep unconscious realm as well as in the conscious realm. And it is not until we truly perceive the unrivaled power of the Spirit in us that we understand the meaning of 1 John 1:7 , which says, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This verse does not refer only to conscious sin, but also to the tremendously profound understanding of sin which only the Holy Spirit in me can accomplish.

    I must “walk in the light as He is in the light…”— not in the light of my own conscience, but in God’s light. If I will walk there, with nothing held back or hidden, then this amazing truth is revealed to me: “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses [me] from all sin” so that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke in me. On the conscious level it produces a keen, sorrowful knowledge of what sin really is. The love of God working in me causes me to hate, with the Holy Spirit’s hatred for sin, anything that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. To “walk in the light” means that everything that is of the darkness actually drives me closer to the center of the light.

  4. Isaiah 64 illuminates the depths of our sinfulness so that we can comprehend the enormity of the grace through which “he was crushed for our iniquities,” (Isaiah 53:5).

  5. KJV of Chapters 63 & 64 reads differently than the translation used in our reading. So it can be a little confusing who exactly is speaking/praying. But if you read from KJV, you will see the prayer is from Isaiah to God on behalf of the Israelites and himself (that’s how I interpreted it anyhow).
    It’s interesting to see how in this chapter that Isaiah doesn’t exclude himself, or rank himself higher than the Israelites—he uses words as “we” and “us”. So it was a great point in the commentary to remind us of Isaiah’s uncleanliness, because it helped me to understand why he included himself with the Israelites who he was trying to render back to God. None of his works made him better or higher to God, either. He counted himself lowly, humbly, before God….and that’s a characteristic worth admiring in Isaiah, and a pastor.
    Great thoughts, and commentary today! Nothing but the Blood! I’ll be singing that all day, Ella! 🙌🏻

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