28. CONTRASTED DEALINGS
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:7-8
The precious thought of this verse is "the exceeding riches of God's grace"—the contrast between His judgments and His kindnesses. The forsaking is "for a small moment," the gathering is "with great mercies." The hidden face is "but for a moment," and "in a little wrath"—the "mercy" is accompanied "with everlasting kindness." Judgment is His strange work. Strong to smite, He is stronger still to save.
What an encouragement to every backslider to return!—that he will be met, not with coldness, rebuke, reserve, or distance—but with a forgiving welcome. That gospel picture of the father receiving the lost prodigal may be regarded as the representation of the Lord's thoughts embodied in acts. He gives the kiss, the robe, the ring, the feast. There is not a frown on that Father's brow—all the erring past is buried in everlasting oblivion.
"This is not the manner of men, O Lord God!" Man's love, how easily cooled—easily diverted—like the ray of light, refracted and broken, or dimmed and obscured by the passing cloud. But "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." He knows no alteration—He is without shadow of turning. It is in spiritual as in natural things. As we ourselves cast our own shadows—intercepting the beams of the sun; so, it is not God, but our own sin which projects the shadow in the pathway of the spiritual life. Moreover, the forsaking on His part, is only apparent. The sun shines brightly as ever behind these temporary intervening clouds. The stone or impeding rock obstructs the flow of the great river "for a moment." But it is only "for a moment;" and it rolls on deep and still as before, in its full volume of "everlasting kindness."
Be it mine, if the flow be arrested, to search out and remove the obstruction—if God's face be hidden, to discover the intervening clouds—if the spiritual life be languishing, to trace out the secret of the sorrowful declension—whether it be neglected privilege, or omitted duty, or secret sin, or tampered with temptation, or engrossing worldliness. "I will say unto God my Rock, why have You forgotten me; why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
Oh how little it takes to soil the windows of the soul, and to dim and blur the spiritual landscape! How small the worm needed to wither and blight the gourd of our spiritual joys! How little it takes to rust the key of prayer, clip the wings of faith, chill the warmth of love, and shut us out from the loving ear of God. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."
As it is "the Lord the Redeemer," who speaks in our motto-verse, to Him I must look for grace and strength—for restoration and revival. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." "Will you not revive us O Lord?"
Then we will never forsake You again. Revive us so we can call on Your name once more. Psalm 80:18