God’s Kindness & Severity

Isaiah chapter one teaches us a lot about the relationship that God wants with His people. In this chapter, it is revealed how God handles His relationship with His people depending on their obedience or lack thereof.

In 1:2 the relationship is likened to that of a parent with their children: “Children have I reared and brought up.” God views His people as His children. That’s beautiful! How wonderful that is to be referred to as children of God.

Unfortunately, His children are disobedient at times and do not give Him glory: 1:2-4, “‘but they have rebelled against Me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.’ Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.” How awful for God to be treated that way. How heartbreaking and frustrating. Those who disobey God deserve to be punished and will be punished.

But amazingly God doesn’t want to punish His children! He takes no pleasure in punishing His children. This is seen in 1:5 where the question is asked: “Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel?” God had punished them and wanted to know how long they would want to suffer punishment. God wants His people to come to repentance and get out of punishment. The Lord does not give up on trying to save His people as seen in v 9: “If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.”

However, the Lord cannot put up with hypocrisy and sin. In vv 10-15 God made known His displeasure in their worship to Him because of their sin. 1:13 says “I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.” But still God doesn’t give up. God’s admonition is to “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (1:16-17).

Even after all Israel had done to sin against God, notice God’s great mercy in vv 18-19! “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…” But take note of His severity as well in v 20… “but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The Lord will reward His children according to their deeds. The wicked will be punished and the righteous will be saved. “Therefore the Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: ‘Ah, I will get relief from My enemies and avenge Myself on My foes. I will turn My hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.’ Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness. But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed” (1:24-28).

The Lord is full of mercy and grace! But He is also full of justice and wrath. Which will you receive from Him? Which will I receive? Remember the words of Paul in Romans 11:22, “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”


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