17–23 December 2017.
In Isaiah 57 we find another example of God’s fierce criticism of Israel and all the evil they had been doing. Straightaway in verse 3 we get a sense of how deeply hurt God is by Israel’s behaviour, as he accuses them of being “witches’ children”, and the “offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!” What has made God so angry?
In vv. 4–13 we get a long description of Israel’s sins. God’s main criticism here is that Israel has been leaving behind what is good and right and true, and instead turning to useless idols. And Israel didn’t just do this accidentally, they did it purposefully and with passion. They threw their whole hearts into worshipping useless idols, and did it with all their energy. What’s worse, they even sacrificed their own children to those false gods (v. 5).
So what should God do about this? Should he destroy Israel? Surprisingly, even though Israel does all this great evil, God doesn’t abandon them or give up on them at all. That’s because God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of revenge. So instead of destroying Israel, God loves them and he calls them to come back to him.
In vv. 14–21, God tries to encourage Israel to repent. If only they would put their evil behind them and come home to him, everything would be good. God even tries to reason with Israel and show them the stupidity of their actions. In vv. 20–21 God says that those who reject him are doomed to live their lives forever like the restless sea, never finding peace, never stopping, never finding quiet or rest. But when sinners come back to God, when they return to God with a humble and repentant heart, then God will bless them with comfort and healing, filling their lives with peace and their mouths with praises (vv. 18–19).
That’s good advice for our own lives too. Why should we always be fighting against God, pushing back against his love, and therefore doom ourselves to a life without calmness and rest? Instead let’s choose today as the day to stop fighting, and to turn back to God. Let’s turn away from the wrong things we have been doing and come home to God. Let’s finally find our rest and peace together with him.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis