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Rip the Heavens

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down. Isaiah 64:1

In a recent conversation, where a friend shared with me that she’d abandoned her faith, I heard a familiar complaint: How can I believe in a God who doesn’t ever seem to do anything? This gut-wrenching question appears for most of us at one point or another, as we read of violence in the news and as we carry our own heartbreak. My friend’s distress revealed her intense need for God to act on her behalf, a longing we’ve all likely felt.

Israel knew this terrain well. The Babylonian Empire overwhelmed Israel, crushing them with an iron fist and turning Jerusalem into smoldering rubble. The prophet Isaiah put words to the people’s dark doubt: Where is the God who’s supposed to rescue us? (Isaiah 63:11–15). And yet from precisely this place, Isaiah offered a bold prayer: God, “rend the heavens and come down” (64:1). Isaiah’s pain and sorrow drove him not to pull away from God, but to seek to draw closer to Him.

Our doubts and troubles offer a strange gift: they reveal how lost we are and how much we need God to move toward us. We see now the remarkable, improbable story. In Jesus, God did rip the heavens and come to us. Christ surrendered His own ripped and broken body so that He could overwhelm us with His love. In Jesus, God is very near.

God invites us to take our laments to Him. He can turn our fear, sadness, and helplessness into praise.

What questions or doubts do you have to talk with God about?

God, I like to pretend I can manage my life, that I can arrive to an answer. But I can’t. I need You. Would you rip the heavens and come down?


The prophecies of Isaiah express the heart of a loving Father for a family that had lost its way (Isaiah 1:1–3). In visions spanning decades of warning, invasion, and exile, the prophet urges his people to remember that no eye has ever seen and no ear has heard of any other God who can rescue those who wait on Him (64:4). Centuries later, the apostle Paul recalls Isaiah’s words—with a slight twist. He describes a God whose saving power is unlike anything that has ever been seen or heard. Reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2, 8), Paul reminds us that only by the Spirit of God can we believe in a God good enough to die for us (vv. 7–16).

Mart DeHaan

By |2019-01-24T13:41:58-05:00January 29th, 2019|
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