“Hear , O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken; ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.’…they have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.” – Isaiah 1:2-4
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove your evil deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good…Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” – Isaiah 1:16-18
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6
This next section of the Bible is filled with the familiar pattern of “warnings” and “wanderings”. We see a rebellious people constantly wandering from the direction that God has provided and a patient God warning them of the consequences of this choice. Thousands of years of a people entangled in sin and pride being relentlessly pursued by a loving God who desires a relationship with them.
This God of love has a challenge. How can He restore a relationship with such a resistant people. How can there be reconciliation with someone who does not want to be reconciled? How do you reach someone who is set on running from you? You love them but they are headed to their own destruction. They are like sheep that have gone astray. They are blind and walking in darkness. Left to their own desires they will continue to rebel and follow their own sinful pride. They cannot save themselves.
The Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are filled with warnings and God’s call to His people to return…repent…come home. However, by this time it falls on deaf ears and Israel falls apart like a house of sticks. Yes, we have continued to fall for the lie of the enemy. We are told that our cheaper, godless version of the good life is better than God’s and we know ourselves better than the God who made us. So, we give God a polite “No thank you” and take the reigns ourselves and trot happily to destruction. Will we ever learn? Obviously not.
God has addressed this situation. You see, what seems impossible with mankind is POSSIBLE with God. There is only one answer to this spiral of despair…”I will save them”. Wait…what?
“I will save them”.
They are not strong enough to wash themselves clean…they are too blind to find their way back to me. They are too tangled up in their own sin to look to me for help. They don’t even know what they are doing. “I will save them”. I will sacrifice myself. I will wash them and set them free from the sin that has enslaved them…and though their sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow. I am the only one that can make this happen. If they are going to have any chance at all I will need to do this myself. “But God shows His love for for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
“I will save them”
Whoa God! Why? What if we don’t want your help. Maybe I don’t want to be saved. Maybe I can do it myself. Maybe I will just keep trying on my own. Maybe I don’t want a relationship with you. Maybe I don’t want to be loved by you! Maybe I just want you to leave me alone.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
This is what we celebrate at Easter. As we prepare we must remember that whether they want it or not God Himself has made the impossible possible. He made a way where there was no way. Now, because of Jesus, every one who will can come home.