You may also listen to this 4-minute devotional by clicking here
Isaiah 40:2 (ESV) “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.”
COMFORTED BY FORGIVENESS
The Lord had warned His people that Jerusalem, the city of David and the pride of Israel, would one day be destroyed. The prophet Micah had foretold that “disaster” would come to the gate of Jerusalem. (Micah 1:12b). The prophet Amos had declared that fire would “devour the strongholds” (Amos 2:5). The prophet Isaiah had declared that Jerusalem would be filled with “rottenness” as their strong men fell in battle (Isaiah 3:24,25) and “emptiness” as those who survived would be carried away to Babylon (Isaiah 39:6).
Then men like Obadiah, Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were each called as prophetic ‘eye-witnesses’ as Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem around 587BC. King Zedekiah was brutally captured, God’s people were starved, killed or enslaved and the temple was ransacked and burned. Indeed, this was a terrible event within Israel’s history!
Yet, it was a day directed by the Lord as a consequence for decades of spiritual hardheartedness. “Because you have rejected my rules by doing wickedness….defiled my sanctuary with detestable things, I will withdraw” declared the Lord, “and will make you a desolation and an object of reproach among the nations” (Ezekiel 5:7a,11b, 14a). For those who lived during this time, they experienced firsthand how the wages of sin leads to death.
We may never experience such unique, God-appointed physical devastation as a direct result of sin, but we do know how destructive sin can be. There are too many examples of desolated marriages, families, friendships, careers and lives all because of ongoing, spiritual rebellion and blatant idolatry. We know that when humans pursue life apart from God’s leading, all that’s left is rottenness, emptiness and a path of heart-breaking ruin.
Fortunately of us, and for the people of Israel, God wasn’t and isn’t finished speaking. He has tender words for rebellious hearts. Through Isaiah’s inspired writing, the Lord promised a temporary end to sin’s devastation in Judah.
Then, he offered something much greater! He forgave their iniquities and offered the exact amount of mercy necessary to cover their sin. For those who sat in the ashes of the consequences of their actions, the Lord provided lasting comfort through complete forgiveness. What a gracious gift!
God still offers complete forgiveness through faith in Jesus. The profound gift of comforting grace led Peter to declare, “Repent and turn back to Him, that your sins may be blotted out and that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19-20a).
We may not always avoid the consequences of our sin, but we never have to fear that God will leave us in our sin. Do you know the comfort which comes from God’s complete forgiveness? It is still available by faith.
Heavenly Father, as we live in a world constantly impacted by the effects of sin, help us be people who joyfully receive your grace and boldly proclaim the lasting comfort that is found only through Jesus. Amen!