Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 30:18

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

The people of Israel were in a pretty hard spot.  They had turned on the Lord.  In fact, they had been turned away from the Lord for a long time.  They had been turned away from the Lord for a long time and it was beginning to show.  Their world was teetering on the edge.  Some of them had started to realize just how dire their situation really was.  They could read the international tea leaves.  They saw the Assyrian army moving steadily in their direction, gobbling up nations in their path and spitting out nothing but ruin and destruction.  But, instead of heeding Isaiah’s call to return to the Lord for their hope and salvation, they were running everywhere but to Him.

Have you been in a place like that before?  Maybe you didn’t have a terrifying army threatening to destroy your civilization, but I suspect you have lived for a season–perhaps a long season–during which you were separated from the Lord.  You made some hard choices over a lengthy span and those choices did not honor God.

At first, things seemed to be okay.  It looked like you were going to be able to continue down this path without much in the way of consequences.  I mean, sure, you had your own guilty conscience to deal with in the beginning, but eventually that dulled to the point that you could pretty much ignore it.

Over time, though, some cracks began to show in your previously smooth surface.  Relationships began to be strained.  Your work suffered.  The guilt you had been stuffing deep down inside and ignoring for so long began to rise to the surface more and more often.  You became paranoid that you were going to be found out.  Everyone was looking at you differently (even if they weren’t really).  Your pattern of sinful choices was beginning to affect your finances in a way you couldn’t keep a secret from the people who mattered most.

Your life was starting to look like a balloon that had been overinflated.  It looked at a glance like everything was big and bold and the life of the party, but the truth was that things were stretched to the max and the slightest wrong touch was going to cause the whole thing to explode so thoroughly there wouldn’t be any pieces left to pick up.

You knew you had to do something, but you had been turned from the Lord for so long, that was the last thing you figured you could do.  So you looked elsewhere.  You looked and looked and looked.  Eventually you began to look frantically.  You would try just about anything that promised some kind of relief or support even if it seemed the cure was going to do as much harm as the disease already was.  The one thing you knew you couldn’t do, though, was turn to the Lord.

This is where Israel was.  Yet look here again at what Isaiah said to them–what the Lord said to them through Isaiah.  He was waiting to be gracious to them.  He wanted to show mercy to them.  He is a God of justice.  He was not going to simply let them off, but neither would He throw them on the trash heap.  He would deal with their sin properly with mercy and compassion as His guardrails.  They would face some consequences, because sin has consequences, but their lives wouldn’t burst like a balloon.  If they would only return to Him and wait for Him to rescue them they would know the blessing that comes from such patience.

The same is true in your life.  It may seem like the Lord is the last place you can turn your situation is so messy, but the truth is that He is the best place you can turn.  He is the only place where you will find the help and hope you need.  He is waiting to be gracious to you.  He will receive glory in showing you mercy and so of course He will take that route.  He is a just God who will deal with your situation rightly no matter how wrong it may be.  But, His justice will be tempered with that mercy and grace.  You will find blessing when you wait on Him.  You will find hope when you turn to Him.  Turn and wait and live again.

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