Return to Repentance

Your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.  Isaiah 59:2 (NRS)

As part of my devotions this week, I read Isaiah 59.  Although I have read individual verses of this chapter before, today’s reading struck a “spiritual nerve”.  Its reading has provided a framework for a new mini-series entitled, In and Out of Season:  A Call to Return.  This week’s WordBytes is entitled, A Return to Repentance.

STOP NOW AND READ ISAIAH 59  BEFORE CONTINUING WITH

THIS WORDBYTES.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AT THE END.

Isaiah 59 was not written for people who had no knowledge of God—who we call “the unsaved”, but it was penned for those whom God had entered into a special covenant relationship with.  Israel had been hand-chosen by God from all the nations in the world (Deut. 7:7-9) to carry out His purpose and plan of salvation.  They were to be a “holy nation, a peculiar people that would show forth His praises” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Unfortunately, instead of heralding God’s praises, Israel went a “whoring” after other gods (Jer. 3:2; Ezek. 43:7), relying on itself and other nations.  The result was punishment—70 years captivity in Assyria and Babylon—away from the land God had promised and given to them.

In reading Isaiah 59, I see an unsettling similarity between the events leading up to Israel’s exile and where we find ourselves today—as a nation and yes, as the Church.

As a nation, we have walked away from the spiritual guidance and direction of God.  If you survey our social institutions and political systems, you will see remnants of what we once knew as “one nation under God”.  We have exchanged our “moral compass” for “individual rights”.

The lines of “right and wrong” are no longer determined by God’s holy standards but have been replaced by political affiliations and social relationships.   Man has placed himself on the throne of his heart—doing “what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  Servility and kindness, community and brotherly love have all been sacrificed on the altar of man’s selfishness.

As the Church, we have retreated into the safety of our church walls.  Internally focused, we are more concerned with our personal needs and how we can achieve “our purpose to be all we can be”.  We have forgotten about the helpless, the homeless, and the hungry.  Jesus went outside the walls to serve mankind versus being served (Matt. 20:28).  Jesus came “to preach, to bind, to proclaim, and to open” (Is. 61.1).  Can we as the Church do any less?

Hopefully, one of the key outcomes from reading Isaiah 59 is that we will begin to recognize and repent from those “iniquities that have separated us from God” (verse 2).  God wants to be reunited with this nation and His Church.  That’s why Jesus Christ came that our sins—personally and corporately, might be forgiven AND our relationship with the Father restored (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

The Redeemer (Jesus Christ) “did come to Zion” (verse 20) and to the rest of the world—that we might turn from our transgressions.  Let us pray continuously that we as a nation and the Church will repent of those behaviors and attitudes that cause us to transgress against God.

4 thoughts on “Return to Repentance”

  1. I so agree! We today should have the word GUILTY marked on our foreheads. We like our forefathers are so full of sin; our thoughts and our actions against self, others and God. He will let us think we are in control but in His time He will and is showing us that He is not pleased with or actions or lack thereof. What we don’t want is for God to turn a deaf ear to us and let unrepented sin separate us from the Father.

    1. Ironically, I was led by the Holy Spirit to the word “Iniquity ” during my devotional time this morning as I examined my thoughts and reactions to events over the past few days. I learned that the character of my heart’s responses pointed not to the Fruit the Spirit as I would have expected. Instead, I was shown disturbing flaws that live deep within my heart. What I saw had no resemblance to the characteristics of my heart that I KNOW is required if my heart and soul is to be a dwell place for God. So, YES I join you in this study on Repentance and I am looking forward to the next Wordbyte in this series. Scripture reference for me today were Psalms 51 and 2 Corinthians 10:5.

  2. You are so correct, my Mom often said, “when we knew better we did better.” But even that is not the gold standard for the church today. We know better and either continue to do wrong or not speak up for wrong done in our presence. We are as guilty as the one doing wrong if we keep silent. We can’t repent or return to repentance if we admit to no wrong and ask for forgiveness. My God is a God of mercy and forgiveness.

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