Three other elements of Isaiah’s intercession must not be missed. First, no one recognizes more clearly than Isaiah that the God to whom he is appealing is also the Judge whom we have offended. “But when we continued to sin … you were angry. How then can we be saved?” (64:5), he asks. That is the heart of the dilemma—and the hope. Second, not only does Isaiah understand that sin separates us from God, he also identifies himself completely with his sinful people: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (64:6). The greatest intercessors have always recognized that far more connects them with the common lot of sinners than what distinguishes them—and in any case they do not hesitate to plead with God on behalf of those who will not plead for themselves. Third, Isaiah deeply understands that if God rescues us, he must do so out of grace, out of mercy, out of pity—not because we have any claim on him. That accounts for the moving tone of 64:8–12.
When have we last prayed with such insight and passion?
D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 2 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.