Isaiah 64:2 the melting fire burneth
The earth is to be cleansed by fire; in other words, the elements are to be melted with fervent heat. This is the declaration of several of the prophets. David, in speaking of this period, in one of his psalms, says, the mountains shall melt like wax before the presence of the Lord when he shall come. You know how wax melts when exposed to the influence of heat. So, when the Lord comes, will the elements melt and the mountains flow down at his presence with fervent heat. This will cleanse the earth as it was cleansed in the days of Noah, only by another element called fire. This is typical of the cleansing of those who embrace the plan of salvation. After you have been immersed, as this earth was, in the water, and been cleansed and received the remission of your sins, you also have the promise of baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, by which you are purified, as well justified and sanctified from all your evil affections, and you feel to love God and that which is just and true, and to hate that which is sinful and evil. Why? Because of this sanctifying, purifying principle that comes upon you, by the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. So must this earth be baptized by fire, it must be cleansed from all sin and impurity. Will it be filled with the Holy Ghost? Yes. These elements that melt like wax before the presence of the Lord will again be filled with his Spirit and will be renewed, and the earth itself will be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the channels of the great deep. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 16: 319)
Isaiah 64:3,5 thou didst terrible things which we looked not for… thou art wroth for we have sinned
The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord will be either great or terrible, depending on whether one is righteous or wicked. Just as the righteous will receive blessings greater than they could ever imagined, the wicked will be destroyed with unexpected terror. Things they could not have imagined, “things which we looked not for.” “For since the beginning of the world men have not hear, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, what terrible curses he hath prepared for him that despiseth him.”
Bruce R. McConkie
Is the coming day one for whose coming we should yearn? Or is it a day to be shunned, one we hope will be reserved for some future age? The answers to be given depend upon whose lips phrase the questions. For the faithful saints, the divine word is: Let the day come. The universal plea on every righteous tongue is: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10.) In the heart of every true believer is the plea: Come, O thou King of Kings; save us, O our God. We have waited long for thee. Oh, that thou mightest rend the heavens and come down in glory in our day.
But among the wicked it is not and it ought not so to be. To them the divine word acclaims: "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?" (Amos 5:18-20.) In truth and in reality, except for faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; except for other decent and upright people who are living clean and proper lives in spite of the allurements and enticings of the world; except for those who are living either a celestial or a terrestrial law—except for these, the Second Coming will be a day of vengeance and of wrath. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 496)
Isaiah 64:4 since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived… what he hath prepared
Neal A. Maxwell
This glorious time of blessings, as well as judgment, was also described in the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." (Isaiah 64:4.)
The words of the apostle Paul are parallel: ". . . 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." (1 Corinthians 2:9.)
The best mortal music we have heard will be surpassed by the sounds of celestial chords we shall hear there. The most beautiful art and scenery experienced in the here and now of this earth will have scarcely prepared us for the beauties we shall see then and there.
The pain of the judgment will be followed by the overwhelming blessings the living and loving Father has prepared for us. Those who hear the words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matthew 25:21), will be filled with unspeakable joy. Those so adjudged can say of their own tiny trek, "It is finished," and yet so much will have just begun!
We will be home, and the promise to us is that God will land our souls, yea, our immortal souls, "at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out." (Helaman 3:30.) Never again will we be really away from Him! (Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 118-119)
Isaiah 64:8 O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter
Harold B. Lee
I've read that verse many times but had not received the full significance until I was down in Mexico a few years ago at Telacapaca, where the people mold clay into various kinds of pottery. There I saw them take clay that had been mixed by crude, primitive methods, the molder wading in the mud to mix it properly. Then it was put upon a potter's wheel and the potter began to fashion the intricate bits of pottery, which he was to place on the market. And as we watched, we saw occasionally, because of some defect in the mixing, the necessity for pulling the whole lump of clay apart and throwing it back in to be mixed over again, and sometimes the process had to be repeated several times before the mud was properly mixed.
With that in mind, I began to see the meaning of this scripture. Yes, we too have to be tried and tested by poverty, by sickness, by the death of loved ones, by temptation, sometimes by the betrayal of supposed friends, by affluence and riches, by ease and luxury, by false educational ideas, and by the flattery of the world. (Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 114)
Isaiah 64:11 Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire
The Temple of Solomon was burned by the Babylonians about 589 BC; the Temple of Herod was burned by the Romans around 70 AD. Symbolically, nothing could have been more distressing to the people that to see the burning of the temple. Nothing could be more horrifying. When God allows the temple to be burned, the people must be forsaken.
And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire.
And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. (2 Kgs. 25:8-10)
When Titus perceived that his endeavors to spare a foreign temple turned to the damage of his soldiers, and then be killed, he gave order to set the gates on fire…
So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon… As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered any thing to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.
[Those that came to save the temple] were every where slain, and every where beaten; and as for a great part of the people, they were weak and without arms, and had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another, as at the steps going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies that were slain above [on the altar] fell down…
WHILE the holy house was on fire, every thing was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity, but children, and old men, and profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same manner… The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain; and because this hill was high, and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought the whole city had been on fire… for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did no where appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over heaps of those bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI, 4:1-6; 5:1)