“For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.” (Isaiah 54:7)
The truth of some of God’s attributes can terrify: how can we survive the glance of a sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient Judge of all the earth? No wonder Moses could not look on His face. No wonder Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me!” No wonder John on Patmos fell down as if dead.
This may be how we hear God in some of the thundering condemnations of prophets. But what we may too easily miss is our God’s mercy, so often preached by those same prophets. Just so, in our passage today Isaiah reminds us that the God of just judgment is also the tender Husband and Father.
As God proclaims mercy through the prophet, He shows the divine optimism of mercy. Isaiah emphasizes the good to come, highlighted by the comparisons God makes: the forsaking and wrath were momentary, while the mercies are great and the kindness is everlasting. This is the optimist’s outlook, seeing the coming fulness more than the present lack.
How can a just God afford optimism? Because of mercy, mercy sufficient for anyone and everyone. Mercy no one can exhaust, mercy that gave a Savior, mercy that longs for restoration!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary. (William R. Newell)
The bad news is, we deserve nothing but hell; the good news is, God’s mercy need not be deserved.
Originally published in the God’s Bible School & College Ministry Library.