“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! [Isaiah 30:15-18]
Was thinking of this verse while driving today, and I felt as though the last part was what most hit me. “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise to show up to show you compassion.”
There has been a few people in my life that have really made me angry and hurt me deeply as a person, yet some of these people have been very close and one so more so then the rest. Yet I feel this passage reflects my feelings toward this individual. So often God takes the opportunity to teach us about himself through experience, it is one thing to read the Bible but it adds a entirely different demension to feel transcends into your experienced reality. God was grieved because the people he chose to love and treasure, turned their back on him and started worshiping idols, sinning by violence and deception, turning from his laws and forsaking Him. He had done so much to fulfill his good promise to Abraham by multiplying his descendents and then saved them from slavery in Egypt. Yet after they were settled in the promised land and place of abundance and blessing they as we all so often are tempted to do, forgot their need for God and lost their desire for him. They started “Prostituting themselves with their idols” as scripture says and turned their backs on God. They did pretend to love God, because it says “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Isaiah 29:13 –
They acted loyal to God but only tried to keep him around as just another God, and throughout Scripture He spoke of his hatred of idolatry, “You shall not make for yourselves idols” and “You shall have no other gods before me” – Scripture says “For I, the Lord am a jealous God”
Does God have a right to be jealous and demand we give him our all? Yes! He also knows we were created for him and are truly sustained only in Him. He has given us so many good things in life to enjoy and has blessed each living person with every breath they take and could pull the plug on any of us without consulting anyone. He answers to none but the His own counsel and will. So to demand God to lower His standards to meet our whims is ridiculous yet such a human temptation.
The people in Israel were in these times also under the impression of religion toward God but rejected relationship with God. They would fast, offer thank offerings and give tithes and do in thise days yes “Religious duties” but merely I venture to say, keep God off their case. Yet we see that God was not pleased by them. No more pleased with them then a wife who is given fine jewelry by a husband who also chooses to keep a brazen love affair with another woman.
God has a esteem of himself not of arrogance or sinful pride, yet knows his worth, and he knows human frailty and how we are not as independent and powerful as temptations of pride whisper.
God knows his worth, he knows the quality of his love and goodness and “Longs to be gracious” however, human sinfulness causes us to fall to the temptation of becoming spoiled fast, how often is it, that we take for granted most those we feel love us unconditionally. Its so easy to take for granted those we think are never going to turn their backs on us yet also, our human nature by default would try to do so with Almighty God like these people did! In the wilderness before this, the people grumbled and “Put Him to the test”
Human beings do test the limits of tolerance, they may have mixed motives, and some do so to see what they can get by with, others hope they can find a love from some other person strong enough to see the better of them while they try to show their very worst, yet still often its not always just one or the other but can be an amount of both and may more so one at a given time and may be so more of the other at an other time. Yet, God said, “He longs to be gracious to you, he rises to show you compassion.” And contrary to many people’s view of God, God seems eager to be able to do good to these wayward people even though they had nit treated him worthwhile. God shows his goodness was not contingent on these people’s goodness to Him but more so the character of God. However, it says shortly later “The Lord is a God of justice!”
Imagine being God one moment and imagine having the true desire to do good and be close to people who sorely offended you and grieved your heart. A relatable example is the love a father or mother has for their dear child who is doing things to damage this relationship and damage their own lives in the process. Now of course you want the best for that child, however, the fear is, if you are to lenient and just passively do the things they want in hopes they will turn around, they may see your lenience and grace, patience and longsuffering as weakness and be emboldened all the more to persist in a harmful course. To scatter acts of goodness, to overcompliment a child or do to much that they want can actually do them more harm. Yet let’s not look at children negatively since we all can be like this.
So the hard choice is- do you show your love in a way only to make them temporarily happy if only to stifle them as a person or do you have to be stern and even withold what they think good so they wont destroy themselves by themselves.
So God did what he warned and removed his hand of protection from them and allowed Babylon to invade them and take them away. God after 70 years fulfilled a prophesy made about a Persion king long before Babylon came- Cyrus the Great, the ruler of the Persian Empire defeated Babylon and was favorably desposed to letting the people return to the land of Israel in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild the temple and their city.
Isaiah prophesied long before
“I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty.” This is what the Lord says: “The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and those tall Sabeans — they will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains. They will bow down before you and plead with you, saying, ‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.’” Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel. All the makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced; they will go off into disgrace together. But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting. For this is what the Lord says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited — he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right. “Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the Lord and will make their boast in him. [Isaiah 45:13-25]
God’s overarching plan though extends beyond just the loyalty of Israel- though at one time she was His chosen, we see how even a nation chosen by God and given the law of God could not keep their own hearts from turning away from Him. This resuted in her captivity, though she was originally depicted as “small” she became numerous, and she was a “slave in Egypt” she was freed by God literally but though she became what was the metaphoric many and free- she like the rest of humanity and the other nations was still by nature slave to sin- that was before the Messiah came through her, born from her, Israel, to save the World from slavery to sin.
Now there are many out there that try to be “good” yet deep down many still see that they cannot change the ugly things they feel lurk in their own heart that cause them to react and behave ways they wish they did not. They say, “Im trying to be a good person” but they do misunderstand the power of sin in their own heart and natures inherited- to try to be free from a physical dungeon or literal chains is indeed good, yet no amount of human strength can break iron chains. There may be a desire for the sinner to live even better, or try harder to practice better morals and be a good neighbor yet deep down they see their own failure to change what is in their nature. As the case with Christians also that say, “I try to be a good Christian” they forget, you cannot try enough but must have the power of Christ do the heavy lifting through you.
“For what the law was powerless to do, in that it was weakened by the sinful nature” Scripture says- which highlights one can know the good they ought to do yet still feel powerless to practice the knowlege they have, so indeed the Law, God’s written code must become more then just read by the eyes but also become programmed into the heart- the greatest law, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” But what is love? Is it not delighting in God and seeking to honor him while seeking the greater good of all we interact with? Do we say we love people, then complacently do things we know hurt them, make them feel used or say things we know damage and then say we love? If we love- we are indeed imperfect at it but strive to grow better at it toward both God and our fellow human being. When we love the God we know, do we dare say we love him if we make a practice of doing what displeases him regularly? What husband or wife, mother or father, feels loved when their closest intentionally do what wounds their heart yet shows no concern but keeps up with it? So too with God and our neighbor.
1 John says, “We love Him because he first loved us”
1 John also says, “There is no fear in love but perfect love cast out fear.”
Like a woman in love has no fear of the man she loves and adores because she trusts he loves her enough to be kind, patient and gracious in spite of her flaws. There is seemingly one thing a woman really yearns for out of a good man, someone who delights in her regardless of all her fears and insecurities yet sees her as a delight and pursues her from desire for her.
Yet, behold, that us how Christ loved us, he saw the worst yet sacrificed his best, emptying all the heavenly vessels of divine love to put in the hearts of those who lay hold of it by faith. Faith is the check to receive what God already longs to give, forgiveness, healing, hope and wholeness, true faith always produces changed lives, not perfect lives but consistent lives motivated by God’s love! He pursued her- before he made a people for himself to be recipients of his love to then “Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature”
To truly believe God is compassionate and wants to save people from sin, error and deception yet to never share this is to only try to hoard such great love and good news only for ourselves.