Isaiah 62:6-64:12; Philippians 2:19-30; Psalms 73:21-28; Proverbs 18:8
OT: “From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened to, no eye has seen any God except you who acts on behalf of the one who waits for him. You welcome the one who joyfully does what is right; they remember you in your ways. But we have sinned, and you were angry. How can we be saved if we remain in our sins? All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind. No one calls on your name, striving to take hold of you. For you have hidden your face from us and made us melt because of our iniquity. Yet Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we all are the work of your hands.” (Isaiah 64:4-8 CSB)
In the 63rd chapter, Isaiah once again revisited Israel’s rebellion against God in spite of His repeated acts of love and compassion toward them. Then, beginning at the end of chapter 63 and continuing through the end of chapter 64, Isaiah responded on behalf of Israel. In the voice of the nation, Isaiah recounted the times when God did awesome exploits on behalf of His chosen people. Since time immemorial, there has never been a God like the Lord God of Israel, the Creator of the World. Only the Lord God is Creator of the universe. Only the Lord God has love for His creation. Only the Lord God is compassionate and responds with mercy. Only the Lord God listens to the voice of His people and responds on behalf of those who wait on Him in faith. Only the Lord God welcomes into His presence those who walk righteously according to His word, will and ways. Nowhere else will you find a God like the Lord God.
However good, compassionate, merciful and loving as God was to Israel, Israel willfully sinned and rejected the Lord God for the vastly inferior gods of the world. Through their sin, they became unclean and their unrighteous acts hung on them like pollution-soaked garments. In their sin, they became blind to righteousness and lost sight of God, making it seem like God had hidden His face from them.
Yet, all the while, God never stopped being their Father… He never disowned them and cast them away forever. God was still the potter and Israel was still His clay… and He stood ready to take the mess they had made of their lives and reform them into holy vessels once again. God has always been, and forever will be faithful to His promises – even when we are not. All He waits for is for us to humble ourselves, repent from our sins, and turn to Him in faith. Who is like the Lord our God?
Psalms: “When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded, I was stupid and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward you. Yet I am always with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me up in glory. Who do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. Those far from you will certainly perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, so I can tell about all you do.” (Psalms 73:21-28 CSB)
Psalm 73 is recorded as being a psalm of Asaph. Asaph was a Levite who lived during the time of David and was one of the Levites who was charged with filling the tabernacle with singing and leading the nation in praise and worship. In the beginning of the psalm, Asaph wrote, “God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart. But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray.” As Asaph looked around at the world and saw how evil people prospered and righteous people suffered, he had a crisis of faith. He asked himself the question, “Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?” As much as he tried to make sense of everything, he couldn’t. It wasn’t until he entered God’s sanctuary and humbled himself before God in worship that everything became clear.
Beginning at verse 21, Asaph explained what he learned as he brought his doubts and confusion to the place of worship and laid them before the feet of the Lord God. What matters most is not how other people behave – but that we remain with the Lord. Asaph knew that his flesh and his heart were capable of failing him and causing him to become full of depression and doubts. But if he remained with the Lord, God would strengthen his heart and fill him full of hope. God was the only one who could lift him out of his funk and set him back on a firm foundation and on the path to righteousness. In his crisis of faith, Asaph had no one else but the Lord because there is no one like the Lord in His understanding, patience, love and mercy. Therefore, instead of trying to make sense of the madness in the world, Asaph declared that he would set his desire on the Lord and pursue Him.
It is easy for us to have a crisis of faith like Asaph. As we look around the world and see how evil people succeed while bad things happen to good people, it can cause us to doubt the very goodness of God. We have to remember that right now, the world is under the sway and influence of the evil one. God is indeed good. Instead of trying to make sense of the world in our own understanding, we need to take all our cares before the Lord in worship and submit them to Him. As we submit everything to Him, He will strengthen our hearts, give us hope and help everything make sense in the light of His wisdom and grace.
Prayer: Lord, it is true: no one is like You. I thank You that You are always good, always faithful, always compassionate, always patient, always merciful, and always loving. Instead of pursuing the things of this world, which will eventually fade; or leaning on my own understanding, which is extremely limited at best, I will set my desire on You and pursue Your word, will and ways. Jesus, You are the author and finisher of my faith. Strengthen my heart by Your grace as I remain in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.