Sometimes you come across grace in the least expected places. Such is the case this morning as I’m reading in Isaiah. Generally, when I think about reading Isaiah, especially the first 40 chapters, I’m ready for a lot of judgment . . . a lot of wrath . . . a lot of nations getting what they deserve . . . including the adulterous nation of Israel. In this first part of Isaiah I’m expecting to see “the Old Testament side of God” . . . the God who is a burning fire . . . the God who says, “Enough is enough!” But scattered amidst the anger and the judgment, there are reminders that the God of grace isn’t just a New Testament thing . . . but that grace is who God is . . . it is His nature . . . always has been. And that, in order to show grace, the Lord waits.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. (Isaiah 30:18a ESV)
The “you” here, specifically, is wayward Israel . . . those who “draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from Me,” (Isa. 29:13). The people of God who have got things turned around . . . the “clay” that thinks it is the potter and rejects the One who formed it (Isa. 29:16). Rebellious and obstinate children who make plans apart from God . . . who determine to establish alliances not of His Spirit . . . who are intent on heaping sin upon sin (Isa. 30:1). These are the ones the Lord longs to be gracious to . . . these are the subjects of His patience . . . these are the Ones before whom He desires to manifest Himself that they might repent and rest and be saved (Isa. 30:15).
Behold our God! Fearsome in judgment . . . but longing to show grace. Horrific in wrath . . . yet waiting on high to show compassion. Behold our God!
How glad am I that He is patient? . . . way glad!!! How thankful am I that, though He knows the propensity of my heart to wander, He waits to be gracious . . . calling me back . . . sometimes with a gentle soft hand . . . sometimes with something more like a swift kick in the pants. But even in His discipline, His desire is to restore . . . to reestablish relationship . . . to realign my internal GPS toward the things of the kingdom. I wander . . . and God waits. I stray and stumble . . . God shows abundant grace.
But Isaiah says, “the LORD is a God of justice” (30:18b). So, if God is a just God (and He is) . . . and rebellion merits wrath (and it does) . . . then what is God’s basis for grace? Behold the cross upon which Jesus died . . . the finished work by which God waits to show amazing grace. The basis for unmerited favor past, present, and future . . . Old Testament and New . . . then and now . . . for my sin committed before salvation and for the transgressions committed since.
Oh, the glory of the cross! Because Jesus died in man’s stead, God is patiently beckoning lost sons and daughters to return, and rest, and be saved. The cross is the justification for a Holy God to show grace to a less than holy people. Even as Jesus hung there . . . in pain and shame . . . God, through the Son, declared to God, the Judge of the whole earth, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). “Wait, O God,” says the Son, in effect, “Wait to show them grace. For I am the payment for their sin . . . I am the offering which atones for their iniquity.”
God waits . . . and “blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isa. 30:18b). God longs to show grace . . . blessed are those who long for the God of grace. God desires to forgive . . . blessed are those who say, “I’m sorry. Forgive me.” God has done the work . . . blessed are those who rest in the work done.
The Lord waits. To Him be all glory . . .