God shows mercy even to rebels #57

#57 for Feb. 5, 2019

#57 for February 5, 2019

God’s been waiting for his people to return to his open arms, but they won’t
 come. I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said: Here am I, here am I.” All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
 who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—a people who 
continually provoke me to my very face, (Isaiah 65:1-3a) 

 God still wants them to come to him. Even those who are obstinate and go their own sinful ways of idolatry instead of his perfect way find that, if they repent 
and return to the Lord, he is willing to forgive and welcome them back. Jesus 
also taught this truth in the parable of the Lost Son, (Luke 15:11-24). (God is the Father, welcoming his rebellious son back home.)

As Isaiah draws his book to a close, he predicts that a new age will dawn. Isaiah 65:17- 25 paints a picture of a wonderful place where God’s people won’t         suffer any more. There is more to reality than this present world; Isaiah shows 
us some of the rest of reality: God will create new heavens and a new earth. It 
will be a happy, peaceful place with no pain or harm or destruction. Earlier we 
saw some of this picture in Isaiah 11:6-9. In the Revelation to John 21–22, we 
can read more about it. There will no longer be people “robbed and plundered, 
trapped in holes with no one to rescue” in that place, for God will have rescued by his mercy all those who believe his word, choose to obey him, and seek his Holy Spirit’s help in living his type of righteous life. We will be blessed to live with him forever if we make that choice.

However, if we choose not to believe his word or obey God, if we reject and 
refuse the rescue God’s mercy has offered, we’ll continue to be trapped in sin 
and its consequences. Since sin can’t be allowed in heaven, we’ll be separated 
from God eternally if we don’t repent before then.

In Isaiah 66:1-6, God speaks against empty ritualism. “Empty ritualism that 
does not symbolize a genuinely repentant and obedient heart is worse than 
useless,” (Oswalt 694). Can you hear the loving Father-God’s heart weeping 
again in v. 4?  “... when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one 
listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”
Yet God would rather give hope and abundance than to judge and destroy. In 
Isaiah 66:7–14, he tells how the promise in Isaiah 1:25 will be fulfilled. The 
dross will be purged away and the unfaithful city will become a Faithful City, 
the city of righteousness. As a baby is dependent on its mother to receive 
nourishment, so will we receive God’s gifts when we are in position to receive 
them. This gives us comfort and encouragement. But fury will be shown to his 
foes.

Prayer: Thank you, Dear LORD, for your wonderful plan of salvation. Thank 
you for not giving up on us. Thank you for making yourself known to us. 
Continue to work in and through us to be a witness of your marvelous grace. 
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Judith Vander Wege 

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