Isaiah is full of the gospel and here is another offer of it. In these verses God holds forth the hope of peace and pardon to sinners if they will seek His face, call upon His name, forsake their wickedness, and submit to His all-wise Lordship. We need to hear these words today. If we are already in Christ we need to remind ourselves of the beauty and doctrine of the gospel. If we are not in Christ we need to heed the gracious offer and walk in its path.
God tells us to seek Him while He may be found. "Now is the day of salvation." Tomorrow is not promised. Therefore, while it is still called today let us flee to the mercy seat where we shall find grace sufficient for our every need. God holds Himself out to us in these verses. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near." Sinner, cry out to God. Seek His face. Call upon His name in prayer. When the Spirit is striving with us we have great need to respond.
God bids us to seek His face and to call upon His name. When that is truly done, the result is repentance and reformation in our lives and in our thoughts. The passage puts it this way, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD...." In seeking God, we need to realize that He will not be found on our terms but on His and His terms involve a turning from our sin and turning to His righteousness. We are to forsake our ways for His ways and our thoughts for His thoughts. In true repentance our actions, heart and mind are all affected. Not only are we to turn from the outward corruptions of our lives but even from the secret musings of sin that so often invade and roll around in our hearts and minds. Repentance is radical. It involves a 180 from the way in which we have traveled to the way in which He has called us to go. We turn from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. We leave the path of sinners to walk in the path of saints. Are we willing to take the plunge?
I hope so, for the promise is glorious. If we walk in the path He has carved instead of our own, we will find Him to be compassionate and full of tender mercy. "And He will have compassion on him...for He will abundantly pardon." By nature we have all lived as rebels and traitors against our Maker. We have sinned in a manner of high treason and deserve nothing from Him but His wrath and displeasure. Eternal execution is what is fair. Yet, see what He offers. "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Compassion and pardon!
Sound to good to be true? Sound crazy? Sound incomprehensible? Sure it does. It sounds beyond our ability to grasp because He is not like us nor are His thoughts like ours. He doesn't treat His enemies as we treat ours. His thoughts towards them are totally opposite of my thoughts toward my enemies. No, God declares that while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. While I was still His enemy He gave His Son to die in my place. I would never have thought of that! The grand chasm of difference is well summed up in this passage. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways... for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Listen to Matthew Henry's thoughts on these verses. He is speaking particularly in regards to the encouragements given to us to accept this grand and gracious offer of God to sinners. "If we look up to heaven, we find God's counsels there high and transcendent, His thoughts and ways infinitely above ours. The wicked are urged to forsake their evil ways and thoughts and to bring their ways and thoughts to comply with His; for, says He, 'My thoughts and ways are not as yours. Yours are conversant only about things beneath; but Mine are above, as the heaven is high above the earth; and, if you would approve yourselves true penitents, yours must be so too, and your affections must be set on things above.' "
He continues, "Sinners may be ready to fear that God will not be reconciled to them because they could not find in their hearts to be reconciled to one who should have so basely and so frequently offended them. But, says God, 'My thoughts in this matter are not as yours, but as far above them as heaven is above earth.' We think God apt to take offense and backward to forgive - that, if He forgives once, He will not forgive a second time. Peter thought it a great deal to forgive seven times (Mt 18:21), but God meets returning sinners with pardoning mercy. We forgive and cannot forget; but, when God forgives sin, He remembers it no more."
O sinner, He is not like us and isn't that the greatest news! Are your ways wicked this day? Are your thoughts unrighteous? Seek Him while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Turn to Him, and know that in turning to Him you will be turning from sin. Return to the LORD and you will find Him to be compassionate and both willing and able to abundantly pardon. Turn to the One whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Only He can provide the pardon and peace we so desperately need.