“For this is like the days of Noah to Me:
when I swore that the waters of Noah
would never flood the earth again,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
or rebuke you.
Though the mountains move
and the hills shake,
My love will not be removed from you
and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
says your compassionate Lord.
“Poor Jerusalem, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
I will set your stones in black mortar,
and lay your foundations in sapphires.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling stones,
and all your walls of precious stones.
Then all your children will be taught by the Lord,
their prosperity will be great,
and you will be established
on ⌊a foundation of⌋ righteousness.
You will be far from oppression,
you will certainly not be afraid;
you will be far from terror,
it will certainly not come near you. (Isaiah 54:9-14)
God is not always just. Sometimes, instead, he is merciful. God promised that he would never send a flood again to destroy the world. This, despite the fact that the world’s behavior didn’t change: it remained just as wicked as before. Likewise, God promised that he wouldn’t be angry with Israel ever again. What he did to them this time, he’d never do to them again. The punishment required by the covenant, their exile to Babylon, he wouldn’t ever repeat. “Though the mountains move” and “the hills shake” God’s covenant of peace would not be shaken. It didn’t matter how they acted now; they were his and so everything would be fine.
This was an illustration of God’s grace—of what has happened as a consequence of Jesus’ death on the cross. We are at peace with God. His wrath, his punishment, his anger for our sins was all poured out on Jesus. So there’s nothing left to pour out on us. Whatever bad thing we do, however we act, God already punished us for it when he punished his Son instead of us. It isn’t fair, but that’s how it is. So it doesn’t matter what we do. The covenant of peace stands, because the punishment has already fallen. The fine has been paid. The jail term served. Grace, by its very nature, like mercy, is unfair and unjust. But that’s how much God loves us.