Our text today focuses on a characteristic of God that is unique. That means that He is the only one with that characteristic. It is not merely some abstract concept, but it is a reality that should hold practical interest for you and me.
The verse is Isaiah 64:6: “For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides you, who works for him who waits for him” (World English Bible).
The setting for this verse is fascinating as Isaiah, writing about 700 years before Christ, is crying out to God to make Himself known in this world because of the terrible conditions in society. You may have had a similar urge or may even have called out to God in the same way. No doubt that has been done by people of God often throughout history. I have done so myself.
But did Isaiah have any reason to expect that God might or even could do so? The answer is “Yes!” In fact in the preceding verses he mentions occasions or at least an occasion which likely was the event at Mount Sinai when the law was given to Israel. That event fits the description. It was awesome, and it was memorable.
By the way, if you are reading this in the King James Version or in the Webster Bible, you will notice that the last clause is different. Let me dispose of that quickly by saying that the difference is based upon a word not in the original Hebrew. However, it is in the Septuagint, and the two versions just mentioned seem to be based on that. The Septuagint is interesting and useful as an early Greek translation, but it often branches out from the original Hebrew and cannot always be trusted. So our version used above is like most that I could access and follows the Hebrew more accurately.
So Isaiah was calling out to God to act into this world because God has done so before. God isn’t uninterested or uninvolved in what happens here, even though we might sometimes be tempted to think so, especially when events do not turn out as we had hoped. But you need to underscore that God does act into our world.
I’ve been thinking about that lately in a couple of directions in connection with my prayers. When I pray for a particular preacher to preach the truth and he doesn’t, how is God then working for me, the one waiting on Him? When I pray for the President to have God’s wisdom in making decisions and he decides against what I think is right, how is God then working for me, as I wait on His action in this world?
Maybe the answer to those questions lies in an expression at the end of the verse. The one praying is described as the one who “waits” for God. This expression appears often in the Old Testament for people of faith who are exercising their faith. So you could say it is another expression for believing, but in the nitty-gritty it often is just plain old waiting.
There are examples in the Bible of people who did not wait and of people who did. Abraham didn’t wait to have the son of promise (Genesis 16) and went a devious route which has caused problems down through the ages. Saul didn’t wait until the priest came, offered his own sacrifice (1 Samuel 13), and guaranteed a shortened dynasty.
Gideon waited until most of his army had been sidelined (Judges 7) and was victorious over a massive enemy with glory going to God. Zechariah and Elizabeth waited to have a child (Luke 1), and God gave them a miracle son who is one of the greatest men who ever lived.
And so Isaiah was waiting for God and calling for Him to show Himself again on our soil. Faith waits for God who acts according to His plan but at the same time in the interest of those who wait. Some of His responses to your prayers will come immediately and some as the events of the book of Revelation unfold.
This characteristic of God is uniquely His. The gods which are the figment of someone’s imagination don’t act on your behalf even if they could. Only the God who created the universe does, and He is especially interested in the one who waits for Him. And Jesus has promised to act into our world again.