Dec 3 – 1 Advent
Isaiah 64:1-9
A Prayer of Penitence

Background: This passage is taken from a portion of the book of Isaiah often referred to as Third Isaiah. The author of this portion was likely a disciple of the prophet Isaiah and spoke to a mixed audience in Jerusalem of residents and returning exiles from Babylon. Third Isaiah borrows freely from Second Isaiah (chapters 40-55) and former prophets in Israel.

Theme: This section shares imagery with the Exodus and asks God for an indication of real presence. This section is a portion of a communal lament that begins in an earlier chapter and continues to 64:12. This lament attempts to explain how the Israelites understand their fallen condition.

Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Isaiah 64:1-9. Additionally, read Isaiah 63:7-64:12 for context.
* Place this reading in context; where does it take place, who are the characters, what is the relationship between the characters, etc.?
* In chapter 63 Isaiah asks questions of God. What do you think Isaiah’s burning questions are?
* Do you think the people believed they deserved what they perceived as God’s abandonment?
* What do you think the function of this lament might be? How does this lament inform our current situation?
* How would you classify the mood of the writer?
* What portion of Israel’s history does this lament recall? Why is that part of their history important?
* What do you think Isaiah’s advice to Israel might be?
* What do you think Isaiah wants in response to this text? How is he influencing Israel and God?
* Do you think Isaiah is reminding Israel that God works in God’s time? Do you think Isaiah is trying to remind Israel to wait for God?
* In Isaiah’s mind, do you think his call to “wait for God” was a passive event for Israel? Do you think waiting for God should be passive? Why or why not?
* How are we invited to wait for God? How do we wait for God?
* Who does Isaiah claim as the one at fault for Israel’s current state in exile?
* What do you think is the reminder conveyed by this lament?
* How would you classify the perceived relationship of the “accused [by Isaiah and Israel] God” to the world Isaiah and Israel live in?
* What response do you think was appropriate for God with regard to the lament and petition of Israel through Isaiah?
* What do you think the inclusion of the modifiers “exceedingly” and “for ever” in verse 9 does to the interpretation of the passage?
* What is the message of hope provided by this passage?
* What is the challenge of this passage for us today?