Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the Bible but as it is with favorite
books there are chapters I favor over others. Isaiah 25 and the feast of fat
things for all people, the return to Zion with singing in Isaiah 35, the tender
speaking of Isaiah 40, “comfort, comfort my people” are all to be preferred
over “I will not keep silent, but I will repay.” But in the same way that the
Gospel is meaningless without the Law and the Law is hopeless without the
Gospel so God is not wholly God without being just and the one who justifies.
(Romans 3:26) Which is to say while God is merciful there is a cost associated
with continually grieving God and even though sin is not counted against us
there are consequences that cannot be avoided. Isaiah 65 reveals a dimension of
the incarnation, God in the flesh, which is not as comforting as the babe of
Bethlehem. No. This is God as grieving parent, God as jilted lover; God continually
provoked on purpose by those God seeks to save. It is also an image of God who
has been pushed to the point of breaking, whose fierce anger has been aroused
by continual mocking and disregard. But while it is true that we are a
rebellious people who walk in a way that is not good, following our own devices
I don’t think fear motivates one to love the God who calls to us, “Here I am,
here I am.” However, if I am the parent of a rebellious child who continually provokes
I might sympathize with God’s patience being exhausted. If I have loved another
with my whole heart only to be lied to, cheated on, made to be a fool of, then
I might sympathize with God’s righteous anger. And when I sympathize with God’s
anger and pain and profound sadness by confessing that I am the rebellious
child and the unfaithful spouse then I might just be the good apple within the bad and become a blessing to the God that by my sin I provoke. I hope so.
And believe me, so does God.