For Unlooked—For Things
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.”
The American Standard Version has the thought: “Neither hath the eye seen a God besides thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for him.” In the King James Version, the thought is that no eye has seen the thing that God has prepared. In the American Standard Version, no eye has seen a God, besides our God, who works for him who waits for Him. To both, the two thoughts are common: that our place is to wait upon God, and that what the human heart cannot conceive will be revealed to us. The difference is the following: in the American Standard Version, it is the God who works; in the King James Version, the thing He is to work. In 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” the reference is in regard to the things that the Holy Spirit is to reveal, as in the King James Version, and in this chapter we will keep to that.
The previous verses in Isaiah, especially Isaiah 63:15, refer to the low state of God’s people. The prayer has been poured out, “Look down from heaven”. “Why hast thou… hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake”. And 64:1-2, still more urgent, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down… as when the melting fire burneth… to make thy name known to thine adversaries!” Then follows the plea from the past, “When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence”. “For”—this is now the faith that has been awakened by the thought of things we looked not for, He is still the same God—”neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” God alone knows what He can do for His waiting people. As Paul expounds and applies it: “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit” (v. 10).
The need of God’s people, and the call for God’s intervention, is as urgent in our days as it was in the time of Isaiah. There is now, as there was then, as there has been at all times, a few who seek after God with their whole hearts. But, if we look at Christendom as a whole, at the state of the church of Christ, there is infinite cause for beseeching God to rend the heavens and come down. Nothing but a special interposition of almighty power will avail. I fear we do not have a proper conception of what the so-called Christian world is in the sight of God. Unless God comes down “as when the melting fire burneth… to make [His] name known to [His] adversaries” (Isaiah 64:2), our labors are comparatively fruitless. Look at the ministry: how much it is in the wisdom of man and of literary culture; how little in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Think of the unity of the body: how little there is of the manifestation of the power of a heavenly love binding God’s children into one. Think of holiness—the holiness of Christlike humility and crucifixion to the world. How little the world sees that they have men among them who live in Christ in heaven, in whom Christ and heaven live.
What is to be done? There is only one thing. We must wait upon God. And what for? We must cry, with a cry that never rests, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens… [and] come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence”. We must desire and believe, we must ask and expect, that God will do unlooked-for things. We must set our faith on a God of whom men do not know what He has prepared for them who wait for Him. The wonder-doing God, who can surpass all our expectations, must be the God of our confidence.
Yes, let God’s people enlarge their hearts to wait on a God able to do exceeding abundantly above what we can ask or think. Let us band ourselves together as His elect who cry day and night to Him for things men have not seen. He is able to arise and to make His people a name and a praise in the earth. “The Lord will wait, that he may be gracious unto you… blessed are all they that wait for Him”.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God!”