1. The prophet Isaiah pens a passionate prayer in Isaiah 64:1 where he writes: "Oh that you [Lord] would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence ..." The man who had seen the very throne of God and was wrecked by the sight of it, is crying out that that same glory would not be tucked away in heaven, but that the Lord Himself would rip apart the sky and make His visible presence known here on earth to silence His enemies, and once and for all deliver His children. Isaiah, knowing of the Day of the Lord, prayed for its quick arrival.
2. The prophet Joel, with the word "rend," steers the believer away from cold rituals and religious formalities to genuineness, true brokenness, and repentance. We read in Joel 2:13-14, "'Yet even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your garments.' Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster."It's pretty easy to fake a tear or pretend to be distraught over my sin, but God's not fooled. Without a true shredding of my pride and best laid plans of self-indulgence, and an actual returning to the Lord, He continues to stand in opposition to me. "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6 ESV).
These attitudes and actions need to be a part of our lives to keep us from descending to the low point that Isaiah describes just prior to his prayer in chapter 64. Listen as he lays out his lament:
"Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name" (Isaiah 63:15-19 ESV).
It's serious stuff to be "like those who are not called by [God's] name." May God rend the sky and may we rend our hearts to prevent this from happening.