There are just some things that you expect to go together . . . some cause and effect things that just make sense. Turn up the heat and you expect the house to get warm. Drink too much coffee and eat too little food and you’re not surprised when you find yourself a bit jittery. Do something wrong, and you anticipate there will be consequences. Transgress against a holy God and you expect, eventually, that justice and righteousness will demand the wages of sin. You kind of expect it.
Reading in Isaiah I have come across a number of prophetic declarations that I’ve expected. God’s people judged for their iniquity. The nations called to give an account for their cruelty and aggression against God and His people. Makes sense. But then you come across that which is not expected. Two realities juxtaposed in such a way that your jaw drops and wonder is evoked. Prophetic words that refresh my appreciation of prevailing grace.
For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD . . . For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you were unwilling . . . 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. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as He hears it, He answers you. . . . And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
(Isaiah 30:9, 15, 18, 19b-20 ESV)
A rebellious people . . . unwilling to return and rest and be saved. Yet the LORD waits to be gracious . . . He desires to show mercy. Though sin results in the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, . . . He will surely be gracious to you . . . He will not hide Himself . . . your eyes shall see your Teacher.
Persistent sin, met with prevailing grace. Reoccurring rebellion countered with the offer of rest and restoration. Backs turned towards the LORD met with His hand turning their faces so that they might again see their Teacher.
If that isn’t the unexpected response? If that isn’t the counterintuitive reaction? If that isn’t amazing grace?
Behold our God!
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
(Psalm 103:8-10 ESV)
Prevailing grace . . . demanding unending praise.
To Him be all glory!