Serendipity

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on altars of brick;
who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat;
who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,
for I am too sacred for you!’
Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that keeps burning all day.
“See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it back into their laps—
both your sins and the sins of your fathers,”
says the LORD.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains
and defied me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.” (Isaiah 65:1-7)

God doesn’t like self-righteousness, human righteousness is never really righteous (Isaiah 64:6). Nevertheless, Isaiah offers hope to these hopeless, deluded people. Paul will quote Isaiah’s words in Romans 10:20 as he points out that although the Israelites have consistently been slow to accept God’s words, whether it was Moses or the prophets, and although God has offered the Gentiles the gospel message, God will not, and cannot reject his people.

Though God turned to the Gentiles, though God judged the people of Israel and sent them into captivity, though many of them rejected Jesus and wouldn’t accept Paul’s preaching, nevertheless, the Israelites remain forever God’s people. In fact, as the author of Proverbs pointed out, “the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12; cf. Hebrews 12:5-6).

The Israelites had involved themselves in various pagan practices, ranging from how, what and to whom they offered sacrifices, to their consumption of forbidden, non-kosher food. God assured them that they would be punished according to their misdeeds, but at the same time, he offered them mercy and the chance for restoration—and not only to them, but to all people everywhere.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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