9” Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. 10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. 12 Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” (Isaiah 64:9–12)
Isaiah, in the context of praising God for His mercy (Isaiah 63:7-9) and for His faithfulness as in the days of old (Isaiah 63:10-14), offered a prayer of repentance on behalf of God’s people because of their desolate, spiritual condition. The prophet’s prayer also comprises all of chapter 64. The prayer is reminiscent of the Prophet Daniel, which also was on behalf of God’s people, Israel (Daniel 9).
In the midst of praying and acknowledging the LORD as the sovereign potter, and His created people as His clay, the Prophet Isaiah then pleads that God would hear his prayer, forgive Israel of their sin, and heal the land (see 2 Chronicles 7:14).
Isaiah is foretelling the condition of the land and the nation prior to its actuality. The prophet is not lamenting about what has happened to God’s people, temple and city, but rather what is going to happen in the future.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Through prophetic revelation Isaiah uttered these words many years before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. Yet, he lamented over the fallen state as though it had already occurred. God’s people were in desperate straits and their prayers urgent and persistent: “How can you stand by when your people and your land are so barren?”
Israel’s unworthiness for God’s mercy is clear. The prophet’s appeal for forgiveness and restoration and reconciliation was based totally on God’s grace. This continues to this day.
Soli deo Gloria!