[Jan 26]--God's Longing

Isaiah 30:18

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men! I was planning to just tack on today’s verse onto yesterday’s devotional and spend a couple of sentences at the end of it referencing the verse. But as I looked at it, there was so much “meat” in it that I had to give a full day to it.

If you read yesterday, you know that the context of the verse was Israel’s temptation to go to Egypt to get military support against the oncoming Assyrian assault. God had told them that if they went to Egypt, it would be disastrous for them, not least because they were deliberately disobeying a specific command. If they’d only wait on him and trust in him, everything would turn out fine.

Now we come to today’s verse, and although the immediate setting was Israel’s temptation towards Egypt, I think it has a personal application to us today. At least it does to me.

First, we get a glimpse into the Father’s heart. It says that he “longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” Shall I trot out the usual verses I supply which show what type of God we serve? If you haven’t seen them, look at them here. Yes, he judges, but his heart is to forgive and restore and save, not to destroy. When God revealed his essence to Moses (as best as the prophet could handle it), the Lord didn’t show any particular “form” that was described. Instead, the Lord revealed his innate character, who he is: He is “the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Second, we have a bit of an odd combination in the second half of the verse. He says, in effect “The Lord is longing to forgive you and restore you and protect you and provide for you, because he is a God of justice.” Or it might be related to the last part of the verse: “Because he is a God of justice, all who wait on him are blessed.”

Does that strike you as a little strange? Wouldn’t you expect him to say something like “The Lord is longing to forgive you because he’s a God of love.” That would be true: He is love.

But that’s not what Isaiah says. It says because he is a God of justice, he longs to forgive. Or as some interpret it, people who wait on him (in faith) are blessed because he is a God of justice.

It makes sense if you think about it a little further. He’s not calling on us (in this verse) to entrust ourselves to him because of his love, but because of his justice. Let’s get this straight. We deserve nothing from the Lord but judgment. He owes us nothing but Hell. So that’s obviously not what the prophet’s referring to. But he's promised that if we come to him in repentance and ask him to forgive, he will. And he’s promised that if we wait on him, he'll take care of his children.

That’s how we can make an appeal to him. That’s what we can ultimately trust in. Not just his love, as incredible as that is. But we can appeal to his honor. His reputation. His word (in the sense of you “giving your word”). We can say to him “Lord, I know that I deserve nothing good from you. But you’ve promised X to everyone who comes to you, and I know that you will never ever ever back down from your word.”

My friend, you can take that to the bank. You might not feel like he loves you, but you can know that Heaven and earth will come apart at the seams before one syllable of one promise of God fails. And that’s more than enough.

Father God, I thank you for the great and precious promises I have in your word. Every syllable will come to pass, and that’s where I’m going to take my stand. That’s my anchor. That’s my shelter.

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