Skip to main content

Isaiah 64:5-6 meaning...

These verses from the book of Isaiah contain powerful imagery and profound theological insights about humanity's condition, God's righteousness, and the need for salvation.

  • God's Response to Righteousness:

Verse 5 begins by describing God's response to those who rejoice and work righteousness. It suggests that God is attentive to those who live in accordance with His moral standards and remember Him in their ways. This highlights the connection between righteousness, joyful obedience, and a close relationship with God.

  • Acknowledgment of Sin:

However, the passage takes a sobering turn as it acknowledges human sinfulness. It states, "Behold, you were angry, and we sinned. We have been in sin for a long time." This confession recognizes that, despite moments of righteousness and joy, humanity has a history of rebellion and disobedience before God.

  • The Question of Salvation:

Verse 5 concludes with a poignant question: "Shall we be saved?" This question reflects the deep human longing for redemption and the uncertainty surrounding our own efforts to earn salvation. It highlights the need for divine intervention and God's mercy.

  • Human Condition Described:

Verse 6 paints a vivid picture of the human condition. It portrays humanity as being like one who is unclean, with righteousness likened to a polluted garment. This imagery conveys the idea that even our best efforts are tainted by sin and fall short of God's purity and holiness. It emphasizes the universal nature of human sinfulness and our inability to save ourselves.

  • Transience and Iniquities:

The verse goes on to depict the transience of human life, comparing people to fading leaves. It also likens iniquities to the wind, which carries us away. This imagery underscores the fleeting nature of human existence and the destructive power of sin.

  • Significance:

The Role of Righteousness and Joy: Isaiah 64:5 emphasizes the importance of righteousness and joy in the life of believers. It encourages us to remember God in our ways, walk in righteousness, and find joy in our relationship with Him.

Acknowledgment of Sin and Need for Salvation: These verses confront the reality of human sinfulness and our need for salvation. The question, "Shall we be saved?" underscores our dependence on God's grace and mercy for deliverance.

Human Inability to Earn Righteousness: Isaiah 64:6 vividly portrays humanity's inability to achieve righteousness on its own. Even our best efforts are compared to polluted garments. This highlights the need for the imputed righteousness that comes through faith in God.

Impermanence and Sin's Consequences: The imagery of fading leaves and the wind carrying us away underscores the transient nature of human life and the destructive consequences of sin. It serves as a reminder of the urgency of seeking God's forgiveness and salvation.


Cross References:

Romans 3:23: In the New Testament, Paul writes, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." This aligns with the acknowledgment of sin in Isaiah 64:5-6 and the universal need for salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9: Paul also emphasizes the role of God's grace in salvation: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." This aligns with the recognition of human inability to earn righteousness in Isaiah 64:6.


In conclusion, Isaiah 64:5-6 portrays the tension between human righteousness and sinfulness, underscoring the need for divine intervention and salvation. It invites us to find joy in righteousness while humbly acknowledging our dependence on God's grace and mercy.

See also: vs 4


Isaiah 64:5-6. We have been in sin for a long time. Shall we be saved? For we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness is like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.