Have you ever gotten debt collection calls? OK, I’m man enough to admit it: I’ve gotten more than a few in my time. I don’t for one second condone getting behind on your bills, but I've let it happen to me. You screen your calls and let the voicemail pick up whatever number you don’t recognize. The calls start picking up in frequency, until it seems like you’re getting one every ten minutes. And what do you do? You dodge them. You avoid them. You let them call and call and call, and you pretend that they don’t exist.
But then I gutted up and actually picked up the call, and usually—in my experience—they're willing to work with you. I mean, they’d rather get paid off in little increments than get nothing, right? I gotta tell you, there’s nothing like the relief of knowing that you’ve settled the issue.
I think of those experiences whenever I read today’s passage. The God of Israel had an official complaint against his people. They had entered a covenant, sort of a contract, and they were falling far short of what they’d agreed to. So the Lord was bringing them up on charges, and had issued a “warrant,” so to speak. They were ducking and dodging him like the debtor who’s screening his calls.
Can I remind you of something from the previous verses? These are not pagans. They are members of the nation of Israel. They were performing the religious rituals which he'd commanded. And as we saw yesterday, God was sick of their “worship.”
You see my friend, hypocrisy and going through the motions? That’s hiding from him. They were involved in a sinful lifestyle, but you don’t have to be living in blatant sin in order to be ducking God.
And the Lord is stretching out his hand to them, pleading with them. He’s saying “Let’s talk this out now before it gets any worse.
And what will be the result?
Your stained soul will be washed clean.
The nasty filth which has hung over you like a cloud will be gone.
He's offering not a temporary reprieve, but a full and permanent pardon.
You will know—not guess, not hope—but know that you’re forgiven.
How can he do this? How can he take me and wash me clean, remove my stain?
Well, Isaiah had some strong hints, but his hints eventually became flesh and walked among us.
The promises he made were fulfilled as a Man hung on a tree.
We’ll look more closely at those promises in a few days, but for now I want to issue a call. Hide-and-seek time is over. If you’ve been faking it, then you need to come to him. Talk it out with him. Maybe you’re not a follower of Jesus; in that case, this really applies to you. Quit dodging him. I promise that your situation will only get worse until you come clean. Please read this if you haven't done so already.
But maybe you are a believer. You’ve placed your faith in him, but the earlier fire you had is gone. You show up on Sunday, say all the right words, sing all the right songs, and then go home. Why are you doing that? Whom are you trying to kid? I promise you, God enjoys your “worship” even less than you do.
When are you going to stop screening your calls?
Lord Jesus, I fall so far short of your standards. I mess up—no, I sin against you so often. Please forgive. Please cleanse, as only you can.
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