Our reading was short today because the next chapter of Isaiah, chapter 36, sort of shifts gears and begins a different kind of writing.
In our chapters today, chapter 34 talked about God’s judgment on the nations. It is severe because of their defiance of God.
Chapter 35 shows what can happen when the nations turn from their wicked ways and God’s grace begins to heal them.
I’ve said it before, and I think it bears repeating. People talk about the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the loving God of the New Testament, almost as if God is a schizophrenic or manic-depressive. I just don’t see that. What I see is a long-suffering patient God who does His best to tell His children in very specific ways how they can have everlasting peace, abundance and sweet fellowship with their creator. Over and over again He tells them (and us) that if they will only do what is right and acknowledge Him, all will be well with them.
God’s laws never were about keeping them from having “fun”. They are to keep us from harming ourselves. A loving parent tells his child to stay away from fire or not to run out in the street, because the child will get hurt if he does those things. Sometimes a parent has to give a swat on the behind if the child continues to ignore the parent. That’s what God sometimes has to do.
Of course, this is a very simplified way of looking at it, but I think the analogy is accurate.
Once the child learns the lesson and obeys the parent, a good mom or dad will reward the child with hugs and kisses.
Now, Paul tells us in Romans that mankind is unable to follow the law. We are hopeless sinners because sin has infected all of creation. Because of that, God made a way for us to be healed of that infection. Jesus is the cure, and His treatment is free to us, even though it came at a great cost to Him. If we accept Him, God sees us as free from sin and He lavishes His grace on us, as was we read about in chapter 35.
This is the God of grace in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. He loves you. He wants nothing more than to lift you in His arms to hug and kiss you like the loving Father He is.