Isaiah is my favorite Old Testament prophet. Through the Holy Spirit he saw more of the glories of Christ than many see today even after Christ has already come. Why he even saw past our present world to the inauguration of the New Heavens and the New Earth! It is a wonder that Isaiah didn’t simply explode from the high octane glory that was revealed to him.
Yet Isaiah didn’t explode, but shared in the sufferings of Christ at the hand of the Jews for preaching the New Covenant. It is no wonder that the theology of Apostle Paul borrows extensively from Isaiah with references to Isaiah 1:9, 8:4, 10:22-23, 11:10, 28:16, 29:10, 29:16, 45:9, 45:23, 52:5, 52:7, 52:15, 53:1, 59:7-8, 59:20-21, 63:17, 64:8, 65:1, and 65:2. The book of Romans quotes Isaiah so much in explanation of the gospel that Isaiah is sometimes called the Romans of the Old Testament.
One major theme of comparison between the two books is God’s sovereign grace. Our unbelieving hearts are often reluctant to believe Romans 9:19 (WEB), "You will say then to me, "Why does he still find fault? For who withstands his will?" Though the answer to the Holy Spirit’s rhetorical question is that NO ONE resists God’s will, we are reluctant to believe it because this would make the will of God sovereign over sin as well.
Yet perhaps we misunderstand the context and the meaning of Paul’s words. For confirmation Isaiah also touches on these themes in Isaiah 63:17-64:1 (WEB),
17) O Yahweh, why do you make us wander from your ways, and harden our heart from your fear? Return for your servants' sake, the tribes of your inheritance. 18) Your holy people possessed it but a little while. Our adversaries have trodden down your sanctuary. 19) We have become like those over whom you never ruled, like those who were not called by your name. 1) Oh that you would tear the heavens, that you would come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence.
Like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! What kind of God would "make us wander" from his ways? If we have any confusion about Paul’s meaning in Romans 9:19 there certainly is no confusion about what Isaiah means in Isaiah 63:17. Though Romans 9:19 is God asking man a question that we know the answer to, but hate to admit, Isaiah 63:17 is man asking God a question that we do not know the answer to, but would certainly like to hear.
Thankfully, God also had a plan to fulfill Isaiah’s longing and rend the heavens and come down. The Lord Jesus did rend the heavens and came down and through his life and death on the cross he has given answer to the prophets. The work of Christ answers Job’s question in Job 25:4 (WEB), "How then can man be just with God? Or how can he who is born of a woman be clean?" Check out the answer in Romans 3:20-26.
And the word of Christ answers Isaiah’s question in Isaiah 63:17 (WEB), "O Yahweh, why do you make us wander from your ways, and harden our heart from your fear?" directly in the Bible. So great as Isaiah was, even a child with simple faith in Christ and his word has the greater understanding.
Where is the answer? Read the answer for yourself in Romans 11:32-36.