Isaiah 63:8-12a,15-16 (NIV)
“He said, ‘Surely they are my people,
children who will be true to me’;
and so he became their Savior.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.
Yet they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he turned and became their enemy
and he himself fought against them.
Then his people recalled the days of old,
the days of Moses and his people-
where is he who brought them through the sea,
with the shepherd of his flock?
Where is he who set
his Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power…
“Look down from heaven and see,
from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.
Where are your zeal and your might?
Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.
But you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.”
When [Israel] rebelled against God, things couldn’t just go on as before. God is not mocked. When a child runs into the street right in front of a car, the dad pulls his child to safety angrily… Only love cares enough to get angry and rebuke and discipline. So it is with God. If our lives grieve his Holy Spirit, he won’t support our stupidity.
Therefore, the question Isaiah asks twice in verse 11 is the question of every generation: “Where is he?”… If you see yourself as you are – helpless, guilty, needing a great Ally – this becomes the question of your life. Where is he? Stop everything else until you find the answer to that question.
Other generations experienced him. Now it’s our moment. Where is he in our experience? When we go to our Father in honesty, admitting everything… when we go to our Father with that kind of trust, while we’re still a long way off…, he sees us and runs to us and embraces us and kisses us. This is God. When we go into repentance, our experience of our complex God becomes simple – steadfast love through the blood of the Lamb. [Ortlund, Raymond Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. Crossway Books, 2005, Wheaton, IL]
Today, if we feel far off and have grieved Him, let this be the cry of our hearts – God, “look down from heaven and see, for you, Lord are our Father, our Redeemer.” If today we feel the nearness of His Father’s delight and compassion, then let’s pray for our generation, asking God that the Spirit will lead those around us to cry out, “Where is he?” and that they will experience His steadfast love through the blood of Jesus.