April 6, 2014.
“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that was not called by my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;”
I was reading through Isaiah 65 earlier and I found out that it’s a really cool chapter. That may sound a bit childish, but I don’t think I can describe it in much of a better way. So much is revealed about God’s character and he even tells his children Israel why they are suffering (yes, I still have some influence of the debate on my mind). I would like to just go through a few of the concepts laid out in this chapter.
To begin, the chapter starts off with an almost exasperated tone from God. “I said ‘Here I am, here I am,” but his people did not listen. You can see this over and over again in the Old Testament, especially through the prophet Hosea. God continually calls his people to repentance. He is not sitting up there in heaven apathetic towards their actions, ready to just kill them all off at any time. He looks on as a concerned parent longing for his children to come home. This is a characteristic of God that not many people tend to see in the Old Testament. Typically, people turn to the Old Testament to see God’s wrath and then to the New Testament to see the love of God. But all characteristics of God can be seen throughout the scriptures, as is partially exemplified here. This story makes me the think of the prodigal son, who when he first took steps back, the father ran out to meet him. God is constantly calling and waiting for Israel’s return.
“Behold, it is written before me:
‘I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their lap
both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they made offerings on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills,
I will measure into their lap
payment for their former deeds.’”
Here we see another characteristic of God, the fact that he is a righteous judge who cannot be mixed with sin. Sin cannot enter his presence. Because the Lord is a just God, all sin will be recompensed. This is why a perfect sacrifice had to be given on our behalf. A few chapters earlier, Isaiah cried “Your sins and your iniquities have separated you from your God.” This would be the case until Christ shed his blood on the cross, dying once for all men, so that we may be presented blameless, holy and sanctified before the Lord our God. Sin is a nasty business.
This section also made me think about the debate on Friday (surprise, surprise). Dr. Ehrman seemed to have a real problem with God punishing people with suffering. The fact of the matter is, God’s chosen people, whom he had blessed over and over again, were in rebellion with God. They had laid their sins open bare before him and called them selves holy. The suffering that ensued was indeed punishment, but it was also in effort to bring them back to everlasting glory. I don’t think this idea set well with Dr. Ehrman. If God is a loving God, why would he punish people for not worshiping him? Seems like a selfish thing to do. But that is just it. God is a jealous God, and he offers us a place of peace and perfection if we come to him. He knows that if we are in rebellion, he, being the righteous judge he is, will have to separate us from him and cast us in to condemnation. He doesn’t want us to go through that. That’s why he caused suffering on his people, to snatch them out of the fire. This may not sit will with you, but if the God of the bible is the One True God (and he is), then that is truth. And your feelings about truth will never change the truth.
“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.”
I skipped over the middle section which deals with the remanent of the people that God would save and the curse placed on those who continued in their disobedience, but I will let you study that a lift on your own. The chapter is finished with a look toward glory. New heavens and a new earth. One of these days I might get into the different ideas about the resurrection and the after life, but suffice it to say here that it will be sweet. There will be no tears, no sorrow, no pain. All will be joy and we will be in the presence of the Creator continually. I truly think that the concept of the afterlife and the joy it contains is simply to big for us to fully wrap our minds around. You see in revelation where John was stretching the limits of his language to try and describe what he saw. There simply weren’t words to adequately portray it. All will be glory, all for his glory. Amen.
Suggested Daily Reading: Isaiah 65-66, Hosea 11, Revelation 21-22.
All glory to his name.