“Turn to the Lord and pray to him, now that he is near. Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the Lord, our God; he is merciful and quick to forgive.”
When I was learning the elements of English grammar, I was taught how to quickly analyse what a writer was trying to say, by looking for the key action words which underpinned everything else that was being said. Isaiah was writing at a time of great political uncertainty among the nations. As you read the headlines in today’s newspapers you could be justified in thinking that we need a twenty-first century Isaiah to come and prophesy to the world – not just to the people of Israel who were captive in Babylon!
But if Isaiah did return and prophesy to the nations I don’t think the key action words at the core of his message would be any different from the ones he originally included in our Scripture for today. Turn . . . Leave . . . Change. For these are the words that are not just at the heart of the Christian Gospel message, but are the words that have been at the heart of every message that God has ever spoken to mankind since sin entered the world.
God is merciful and his loving mercy was supremely manifest in the action of His Son. If we truly turn to Him, demonstrate our commitment to Him by leaving those things that have hallmarked the sinfulness of our walk, and change our way of thinking, then He is quick to forgive. Forgiveness is the first stage on the journey of restoration. Forgiveness removes from our lives the eternal consequences of our sin and it opens the door for the healing and restoration of our lives – and, indeed, for the healing and the restoration of nations.
Some of the most profound healings that I have ever experienced have begun by someone taking the action words from today’s Scripture and systematically applying them to their own lives. When we run towards the Lord, the Father comes running to meet us – as was most graphically expressed by Jesus in His story of the prodigal son. This is a day when people and nations need to turn to the Lord and re-discover the mercy and forgiveness of God.
Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I have turned away from you and gone my own way. I choose now to turn, leave and change my way of thinking. Thank You, Jesus, for dying that I might live and that I might know your healing and restoration. In Jesus’ name, Amen.