"You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned -- in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities." Isaiah 64:5-7 (Read v. 1-9)
Isaiah was a prophet of God who spoke God's Word to the visible church of his day in Judah and Jerusalem. His words are still fitting words for the visible church in our day and, through them, God warns us concerning our sinful and erring ways and offers us mercy and comfort in Jesus, God's Son and the long-promised Messiah and Savior!
As the Scriptures teach, God is a God who shows mercy to those who repent of their evil ways and trust in Him for pardon and forgiveness. He acts on behalf of those who, as a fruit of their faith, rejoice in God and His salvation and seek to walk in His ways. Cf. Psalm 103:6-18.
But, as Isaiah testifies to the visible church of his day, we have sinned and continue to sin. We wander like lost sheep and err in our ways (Isaiah 64:4 -- LXX; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:25) and we need our God to find us and save us. I think of the words in our Setting Four liturgy which say: "We have sinned in thought, word, and deed, and ... we cannot free ourselves from our sinful condition."
We are unclean and cannot stand in the presence of the Lord God. Our "righteous works" are like an unclean (menstrual) rag in God's eyes. Because of our sins, we fade like a leaf in the fall and our sins, like the wind, blow us away. Cf. Psalm 103:14-16.
And, because of our sinfulness and our sinful inclination, we do not turn to the Lord, call upon Him or take hold of Him and His mercy. We need the Lord to intervene and save us! We need the God who formed us and gave us life to grant us His Holy Spirit and regenerate us, moving us to repent of our sins and take hold of God and His mercy toward us in Christ Jesus, who took our sins upon Himself and suffered our just punishment that we might be saved (cf. v. 8-9; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 31:18).
And what does God promise when we turn to the Lord God in humble repentance? "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool'" (Isaiah 1:18). Indeed, God does save us -- through the innocent sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord. He sent His Son to die for us and redeem us, and He sent His Spirit to call us to faith in Jesus, our Savior!
"For You are the Father's Son who in flesh the vict'ry won. By Your mighty pow'r make whole all our ills of flesh and soul." (Lutheran Service Book, Page 332, Verse 6)
[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]Editorial on 12/06/2017
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