Monday, July 2, 2012

A Great God Saves Sinners

God sends us prophets so we can see things from his point of view.  This is more important than we might realize as we tend to get wrapped up in the ways we view things.  It is easy for us to understand our times through what is trendy to believe, what our favorite columnists or political pundits believe, or what the wind blows in under the guise of conventional wisdom.  In short, we tend not to see things through God’s eyes.  So he sends us prophets.  Their words are God’s words to us in our times so we can have our eyes opened to the way things really are.  And the view from there is not always pretty.

Isaiah begins with a lament.  “Ah,” he says, “sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity.” It is true that prophets were not always the most popular of people.  They were curmudgeons.  You typically did not want to hear what they had to say, but the more we hear the words of the prophets, the more we hear the sound of weeping.  The rebellion of God’s people broke their hearts.  They said the things they said, not because they were spiteful nags, but because they were compelled by the word of God and their love for their people.  I have no doubt that Isaiah would have said something different if the truth about God’s people was different.  But as it as it stood, they needed to hear some difficult things.

They were like a body broken out with disease from head to toe.  The boils were obvious, their heart was weak, and the wounds were raw.  Their sins were no longer hidden or hideable – they were out there for everyone to see.  A disease under the skin might be masked for a while, but once the boils begin to grow and the wounds begin to fester, the problem becomes clear to anyone who has eyes.  Except, it seems, to the diseased.

God’s people have not bandaged their wounds, lanced the boils or applied ointment: “they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil” (vs. 6).  In short, they are riddled with disease and have refused the treatment – they are full of sin but have forsaken the God who heals them.  They are a beaten and bruised boxer who thinks he is victorious.  They are covered with festering boils and believe they are healthy.  Their lives have become ugly and they believe they are beautiful.

This is the most powerful deception of sin.  We begin to consider sin itself to be righteousness, we take disease to be health, we begin to believe that wrong is actually right.  And in the end, we will begin to refuse the category or sin altogether.  Sin’s greatest magic trick is its disappearing act.  It does its damage; it ravages the soul, and convinces us that it was never really here.

The people of God need to see these things.  We cannot progress into a meaningful understanding of God or relationship with him until we understand what sin does to our souls.  Once we grasp this reality, we have the option of leaving the wounds open and festering, or turning to a great and gracious God.  Isaiah tells us that God has left us a remnant; fur us, it is an opportunity.  God’s grace has left a way of forgiveness and healing where we deserved to be destroyed.  We deserve what Sodom and Gomorrah got.  Their sin and rebellion led to utter destruction.  Will ours?

God decided to save sinners, so he has extended his healing grace.  May we see what God sees, and may we have the wisdom and humility to let him bandage the wounds of our sins and bring the healing only he can give.

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