I read in Isaiah recently and as I was reading I kept wondering how does this fit into the good news in the New Testament? This fits together but not like frosting fits a cupcake. I can’t think of how it fits except maybe to say like a Jenga puzzle, 3/4s of the way into the game.
“For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.”
Then put that alongside the good news found in John’s Gospel.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
They do not contradict each other. God loves us. He has described this love in various ways, frequently he uses the metaphor of a father’s love for his children. A father’s love is not always displayed in kindness and affection. Sometimes a father needs to love in stern rebuke, redirection or in discipline which can be painful. Earthly fathers do these things guessing and hoping for the appropriate course of action to take but God, being all knowing and all wise does it right every time. God makes no mistakes when he disciplines his children.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says it like this: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
God has one goal in mind for us. To make us more like Jesus.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
He is is patiently forming us, like we read in Isaiah, as a potter forms clay. The potter has a shape in mind and he will form the clay as HE pleases because he is the master. He will complete the work he starts in us. Since we don’t know what his design is, it can be confusing watching the process from the inside. He will masterfully make us into the product he wants and needs us to be and it will always be with the character of Jesus as the framework.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6 –
If I go back to the original verses I started with, Isaiah and John, I think Isaiah is written from mans perspective, realizing that sin has separated us from God, and The verses in John are Gods reply, “I love you, I’ve sent Jesus to pay off your debt so we can be restored. Accept my gift. Some will not but it is offered to all. “
Today, right now, as you are reading this, have you received God’s gift of reconciliation? If not, will you? Today, now if you want to, you can be restored to our God who loves you. If you confess with your mouth Jesus Christ as lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
If you have already received this gift, have you told anyone else? Statistically, in a room of 100 random people, 69 of those people have not yet heard or have chosen not to believe about Jesus or in Jesus. Our job is to tell them, tell them that there is s God who loves them, that he sacrificed his only son for them, to restore the relationship between us and Him.
May God bless your day. May you be constantly reminded of His love for you and for all the people around you. May you find ways to serve the people in your world with grace and humility, serving with the gifts God has given uniquely to you.