Dec 4, 2023
The Israelites knew captivity. They lived in oppression. The enemy burnt down their homes. Their generational wealth was stolen. Their communities were displaced and scattered. They knew great trouble.
As many do, Israel tended to blame God for their miserable condition. They said in exile,
14 “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” (Isaiah 49:14 ESV)
They turned to God in their painful state and accused Him, “You have divorced us without cause! You have sold us, Your children into slavery like one who must pay off his debts.”
To these accusations God responded,
1...“Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?”... (Isaiah 50:1 ESV)
With rhetorical questions, the LORD exposed the empty and false accusations of the self-righteous and proud Israelites who would rather blame God than face the truth. God did not prove unfaithful; instead, they acted unfaithfully. God did not send them away in divorce, they had committed adultery with other gods. God did not sell them into slavery; they gave themselves willfully to other slave masters.
1...Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away. (Isaiah 50:1)
The Israelites could not escape the truth about their condition. They knew trouble on account of their iniquities and transgressions. They threw off the Law of God and suffered the ruin that comes as fruit on the vine of rebellion.
Not only had the exile come about by their own sin, but their sin kept them languishing in their ruin. God at no time lost the power and willingness to save and rescue, redeem and restore. He actively sought to reconcile. He pursued them. He sought them. But, Israel refused to return.
2 Why, when I came, was there no man; why, when I called, was there no one to answer? Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? (Isaiah 50:2 ESV)
God spoke to them, and they covered their ears as an irritated young child hoping to shield their ears from an annoying sound. The LORD sent His prophets, and Israel killed them. God still possessed the power to save. Nothing became too hard for Him. Just as He delivered Israel from Egypt with sovereign might, so He could have brought them up out of captivity from Babylon. But Israel, filled with ingratitude, rebellion, and contempt chose to ignore God’s initiative. They rejected His hand and persisted in blaming Him for their fate.
God stands willing to rescue and redeem.
The LORD’s willingness and ability to save shines brightest in the person and work of His Servant, Jesus. How willing is the LORD to save His people? So willing that
16 ...“he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
God “did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all...” (Ro 8:32).
The depth of the athlete's will to win manifests itself in his giving up tasty foods to stick to a rigid diet, in his waking early in the morning before anyone else to throw weights around in the gym, and in his saying, “No!” to many good and pleasurable things in order to perfect his craft through hours of practice.
The depths of God’s will to save manifests itself in His sending His Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of His enemies.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Even in our sin, God stands ready to save.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37 ESV)
Do not persist in your rebellion
Sin brings brokenness. For a season, sin gratifies the flesh, but destruction and death soon follow.
Each of our lives knows the effects of sin, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:23). Our marriages know pain. Our work knows frustration. Our communities know deep fractures. Our bodies know decay. Our hearts know despair. Our minds know weariness. While some confuse this earthly world with hell, no one confuses it with heaven. We live our lives exiled from the Garden, separated from paradise, and isolated from the presence of God.
The good news which comes to us first through prophets such as Isaiah and now through the Servant, Jesus Christ, announces to us that in spite of our rebellion God stands ready with eagerness to save His people from their sins. He has gone to great lengths to rescue us, restore us, and reconcile us.
Do not be like Israel in the days of Isaiah. They blamed God for the consequences of their own actions. They looked around at their ruin, the ruin they themselves caused, and lashed out at God. Rather than standing amazed at God’s extreme patience and unimaginable willingness to forgive, they grew even harder in their hearts. They despised Him. They rejected Him. They persisted in their rebellion even as their Savior stood ready to welcome them back into His arms. Do not be like Israel. Hear the good news. Receive such news with joy and faith. Return to the LORD your God and once again enjoy Him.