14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.
9 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
Isaiah is densely packed with theology! Our passage today deals with two key theological principles. Firstly, God overcomes sin and makes us his own (vv.6-7) and secondly God is not like us (vv.8-9).
Let’s look at the second of these first. Have you ever paused to think about how different God is from us? It’s worth considering in some detail. Christians argue that our purpose is to get to know God and to enjoy him forever. It’s worth lining up the differences between God and mankind!
Here’s a table to get us thinking about these:
|Saviour||In need of salvation|
|“I am” – from and of himself||Contingent and dependent|
|Love, light, spirit||Dust, flesh and blood|
|Simple and triune||Complex and unipersonal|
|Unchanging||Fickle and unfaithful|
Some of these differences are easy to follow, others are harder to grasp. Ask me if (like me) you puzzled over the fact that God is simple and triune, whereas we are complex and unipersonal!
Given the vast differences between God and mankind, it’s not surprising that God’s thoughts and ways are radically different from ours. Yet we can often be amazingly presumptuous in our thinking about God. How often has someone said to you something like “I like to think of God as…..” What a massive presumption! Who are we, mere mortals, to try to express an opinion on what God is like?!? A much more appropriate (and fruitful) approach is to mine the riches of scripture to learn about God as he reveals himself in his word.
Secondly, let’s look at salvation. Isaiah commands his readers to seek the Lord and to call on him while he is near. What is the purpose of this? It is so that the wicked will forsake their ways and thoughts, turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on them. Isaiah promises that our God will freely pardon those who repent. As our introductory passage from Mark shows, this is how the Lord Jesus began his ministry. The good news (or gospel) is that God will freely pardon all those who believe in Jesus. We know this to be true from the gospels and also from the evidence of the death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus. His body and blood, laid down as a fitting sacrifice for all mankind, is the way the Lord chose to provide the salvation which we enjoy now. The prophets (including Isaiah) foretold it, Jesus delivered it. We just need to put our faith and trust in this free gift and reconciliation with God is ours!
As we ponder the grace of our God, his love for mankind and his condescension towards us, our only possible response is to give him all the thanks and praise which are his due. He was under no obligation towards any of us, and yet his overwhelming love has restored us and given us eternal life in Jesus.
Sometimes we need to pan back from the cares and concerns of the day and survey the wider picture. There’s a lot on our minds right now. Pause for a few minutes and set aside these cares and concerns and instead focus on how different God is from us and how gracious he is towards us, offering each one new life and reconciliation. Let’s rejoice in this good news now, and make sure we share it with others as soon as we can, it’s so much more important than those cares of today!
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
Tomorrow’s passage: Ezekiel 18:21-28