It’s one of those passages of Scripture that is known by almost everyone who’s been around the Bible for any length of time. Might not know much about Isaiah’s prophecy, but this they know. Not only do I believe it is widely known, I regularly hear it broadly applied. One of those foundational truths that can be cited on those many diverse occasions when the logic of what is happening just doesn’t compute within our finite, mortal brains.
The principle? His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
True statement. God wouldn’t be God if we could figure Him out. Not much of a deity if, rather than us being created in His image and being but a dull reflection of His being, He actually thinks and operates after our cognitive abilities and our natural capabilities.
But what invoked the awe factor this morning was the context of these well known verses.
They are penned as part of plea. An appeal to the thirsty. An exhortation to those bound by poverty. An invitation to come to the waters. To come and buy and eat, though they have no money. To listen diligently to Him. To incline their ears, so that they might hear Him whisper anew His everlasting covenant made with His people for the sake of David.
To not only come, and listen, but to seek the LORD while He may be found. To call upon Him and to return to Him.
And all this spoken to a spiritually adulterous people. Thirsty because they had purposed to drink from cisterns hewn by their own hands. Without means because their sin had left them morally bankrupt. People of promise but with hearts of rebellion. To such as these, the God of heaven pleads, Come! Buy with money! Incline your ear! Seek Me! Return to Me!
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
(Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV)
For He will abundantly pardon! That’s the specific context for considering the incomprehensibility of the thoughts and the ways of our God.
Makes no sense that a God who has received only the backs of His people, would so earnestly contend for their faces. After such prolonged and determined rejection of His ways, our finite, flawed hearts are inclined to declare, “Enough! Done with you! Have your own way!” But our infinite, eternal God is ready to pardon–and pardon abundantly.
Not only ready to pardon, but willing and able. Having orchestrated the means of deliverance. Having provided the sacrifice upon which an exceedingly great pardon could be, with justice, granted to all who would respond to the call and come and buy and eat.
No sin too sinful. No shame too shameful. No brokenness and dysfunction too broken or too dysfunctional. The cross was enough! The cross was enough!
No matter how we apply the principle of thoughts greater than our thoughts, and ways higher than our ways, none compare, really, to the lofty and heavenly thoughts of a Redeemer God towards a people in desperate need of redemption. None comes close to the ways of the Holy Son of God who gave Himself freely for the sin of a wayward world on a cruel cross.
By His grace! For His glory!