God blessed Israel in so many ways, yet they abused those blessings by turning to false gods and trusting in themselves and others. He waits for His people to turn to Him. Like the prodigal son, He will be there and accept him with open arms and celebrate his return to Him. In the previous post, we discussed how God would turn from His people until they turn back to Him. But He is always there and will show mercy and grace to all who will accept it and trust in Him.
O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
God pleaded with Israel as He does with us to come back to Him. How it must hurt Him to see people and nations turn away from Him and go their own way. He wants nothing more than to show love and mercy to us. He wants to have a relationship with each of us. He wants to bless us and fill our hearts with joy.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Jesus quoted this verse as well. God’s desire is not that we just follow a bunch of do’s and don’ts. Yes, He wants us to obey Him, but more than anything, He wants our love and He wants to show us His love. He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us. To die for the lost. To bring the dead to life. He offered His life so that we can have eternal life.
As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
1 John 1:9-2:2
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
God will discipline His children. We will suffer the consequences of our actions, just as we teach our children (or should). No matter how angry He may get at us, He still loves us and His desire is to make us pure and righteous. We cannot do that on our own, but through Jesus Christ, we are declared righteous. Just as with Israel, we will be disciplined, but God will also bring us back and bless us when we repent and turn back to Him. We are the prodigal son. Let us realize the mess we have made and go back to Him where we are loved, fed and secure.
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
“My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror. They shall walk after the LORD. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses,” says the LORD.
God’s desire is always what is best for His children. As we turn our back on Him and rely on ourselves and others, things fall apart. It is evident in America today. Let us turn back to Him so that He will heal our land.
The way of the LORD is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.