Today, I turned to Isaiah 43-44, where the LORD is discussing Israel's past, and her future. This passage is a microcosm of the nation's failings and future--but it also applies to you and (thank God!) me.
- There's so much here that it's impossible to look at all of it, but here are some significant thoughts: But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. God says this to His people AFTER the final words of Isaiah 42, which go something like this--"You messed up so badly that you didn't even understand your punishment; you didn't listen, and you haven't listened, and you are just so miserably obstinate..." Can you imagine? Not just forgiveness, but protection.
- But wait! there's more: "You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. "I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me. "It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And I am God. Now the status of "witness" is usually reserved for someone who is faithful, who does what God says, who lives a godly life (see Acts 1:5,8; Jesus says this about the apostles--men much better than you and I); yet here He says of disobedient, obstinate, rejecting Israel (and by extension you and me), "you are My witnesses...My servants...My people. I can't quite get my mind around this. The mercy is too great to measure. The Israelites (i. e., those also of the land of Judah, all the 12 tribes) were disgusting, and intentionally evil. Some of the minor prophets talk about the people of Israel selling the children of their neighbors "for a pair of shoes;" about them "roasting their own children in the fire" (of Moloch, an idol of the Canaanites), and many other similar things. These were not nice people.
- Finally (and certainly there is more than this), there's the promise of renewal, the forgiveness of all their sins, and a transformation that can only be called "the hand of God:" "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. (from Isaiah 44): "Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. "I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you." Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; For the LORD has redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory."
If He's going to all that for them, why wouldn't he do it for you? That's why Paul said that he "forgets the past, and reaches out to the future, so that he might win the prize of his personal calling in Christ Jesus," and why John says that even though God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and why Jesus said "All kinds of sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven..."
When you turn to Him, He makes it all new. Regrets? yes. Pain? yes. But all that is really gone, and you have a new life, whenever you decide to turn to Him. Even if you turned to Him before, and then messed up again.
How do I know that? It's right there in Isaiah.