For the Truly Repentant

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 56-66

King Hezekiah became deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah gave Hezekiah a message from the Lord stating that he would not survive this illness. Hezekiah begged God to heal him and God graciously granted Hezekiah 15 more years to live. God’s word through the prophet Isaiah was not enough for Hezekiah. He needed a sign. Again, God showed grace towards Hezekiah and moved the shadow on the sundial ten steps backward to show He keeps His promises.

Instead of humbly receiving this gift of life from the Lord, Hezekiah became prideful. When the king of Babylon heard that Hezekiah had been sick, he sent an envoy carrying a gift for Hezekiah. In pride, Hezekiah showed the Babylonians EVERYTHING in his storehouse, revealing to them the bounty that could one day be theirs for the taking. And God showed Hezekiah that would one day happen. He even revealed that Hezekiah’s sons would be captured and made to be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king. Hezekiah’s heart was revealed when he only showed relief that there would be peace for the rest of HIS lifetime, instead of grieving what others would suffer because of his foolishness (2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 38-39).

When God puts someone in leadership, it is for the good of those being led not for the personal gain of the leader. To be a leader is to be a “watchman” – to watch for danger and protect others from potential harm. Today we call this “risk management”. But sometimes leaders get caught up in their own egos and make choices based on what is best for them, instead of what is best for the people or organization they are leading.

For the leaders of my people – the Lord’s watchmen, his shepherds – are blind and ignorant.
They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes.
They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming.
Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied.
They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
“Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party. Let’s all get drunk.
Then tomorrow we’ll do it again and have an even bigger party!”
– Isaiah 56:10-12

We serve a God who loves a repentant heart, who shows favor to those who humbly ask for forgiveness and submit to God’s leadership instead of making life a party for their own self-gain. He comes to restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts (Isaiah 57:15). He does not want a false show of repentance. He rejects those who go through the motions – who say the right words and fast for the sake of impressing God (Isaiah 58). God sees the heart and will not be manipulated. He sent His Son to come as a Redeemer for the truly repentant (Isaiah 59).

Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red?
Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength?
“It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation!
It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!”
– Isaiah 63:1

I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love.
I will praise the Lord for all he has done.
I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel,
which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.”
In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them.
He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.
– Isaiah 63:7-9

When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
And oh, how the mountains quaked!
For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen
a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!
You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways.
But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly.
We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand.
– Isaiah 64:3-8

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.
But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes…”
– Isaiah 65:1-2

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.
But those who choose their own ways – delighting in their detestable sins –
will not have their offerings accepted…
For when I called, they did not answer.
When I spoke, they did not listen.
They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise…”
– Isaiah 66:2b-3a,4b

Lord, we humbly come to you this morning, our Savior and our God. We bow before you with sincere and repentant hearts. Lord, we pray that you would do a work in their hearts today. We are the clay and we long for you to mold us into vessels according to your perfect will. Reveal in us any sinful intentions or prideful attitudes. We long to hear your voice and answer you obediently today. We sit in your presence and listen closely.

I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love.
I will praise the Lord for all he has done.
I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel,
which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.”
– Isaiah 63:7-8