Expect the Unexpected

By David Robinson/ December 1, 2013

Series  Great Expectations

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Salvation

Scripture  Isaiah 64:1-9

Isaiah 64:1-9 is a plea for God to rend the heavens and come down to do awesome things we did not look for. It is also a confession of sin. We are unclean, our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment, and we are fading like a dead leaf. We have been in our sins a long time, and Isaiah asks, "Shall we be saved?" The Gospel is God's answer to Isaiah's plea. In Christ, God has opened the heavens and come down and done awesome things we did not look for. Christ cleanses us from our sin, clothes us in his righteousness, and gives us eternal life.

Scripture:  Isaiah 64:1-9

Sermon Notes:

  1. The season of advent is one of expectation and preparation to receive the Saviour.
  2. Isaiah 64 is a prayer of lament seeking God’s restoration.
  3. In many ways this chapter is an advent prayer, calling on God to come to His people with His salvation.
  4. Isaiah asks God to again show Himself in a theophany (cf.  Exodus 14, 15, 19).
  5. God meets with the righteous, Isaiah says, but because of our sinfulness God is distant: “For You have hidden Your face from us” (Isaiah 64:7).
  6. All sinners are in a desperate situation: we are unclean because of sin (cf. Lev. 13:45), our righteousness is like filthy rags, and we are all like leaves that fade away.
  7. In verse 6, Isaiah says even our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
  8. Isaiah does not end in despair; he reminds God of the covenant.  God has promised to be our God and that we would be His people (Exodus 6:7).
  9. Based on the covenant, he prays:  “Do not remember our sins forever.”
  10. The covenant is based on God’s own steadfast love and sure promises (cf. Isaiah 43:25; 44:1-3).
  11. Isaiah says do not crush us by the weight of our sins.
  12. The heavens are opened for the announcement of Christ’s conception, for the birth of Christ, for the baptism of Jesus, at the cross with the tearing of the veil of the temple, and on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit comes down.
  13. God has opened the heavens in Christ and done awesome things for His people.
  14. Jesus reaches out to the unclean: lepers, a bleeding woman, etc.
  15. In Jesus is the answer to Isaiah’s prayer: God is not angry with us for He poured out His anger on Christ at the cross.
  16. Advent is a season of promise, a time when we look forward to the coming of Christ.
  17. God meets with those who joyfully work righteousness.
  18. God also meets with sinners, those unclean.  This is the awesome thing that God does. 
  19. The proper response of sinners is repentance.  “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am not worthy to be your son” (cf. Luke 15).
  20. God runs to us in mercy and makes us sons and daughters. As sons and daughters of the gracious Father, we joyfully work righteousness (Isaiah 64:5-6).

Application Questions:

  1. How does Isaiah portray the condition of sinners?
  2. On what basis can we plead for God’s favour in the midst of our sinfulness?
  3. What has God offered to us in the covenant?
  4. How is the parable of the prodigal son instructive to our own restoration to God?
  5. What awesome things can we expect from God this season?
  6. What does it mean for us to joyfully work righteousness this week?

Sermon Notes