Isaiah 40.5-10 – Sin and salvation
Posted: 30 January 2013 in Isaiah

To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble. Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Israel had been soecially chosen by God, and it is because they had been so gifted by God that Isaiah was able to clearly percieve the idolatry of the heathen nations. Nevertheless, the fact that other nations had not been similarly gifted did not exonerate them from sin, which was still all theirs. The fact that they felt the need to set up idols, and to worship them, bears witness to some vague remembrance they had of a true God, who was to be worshipped in all things. But they, like all their forebears, were now steeped in the consequences of original sin – dishonouring and insulting God in their every action. Even amongst the heathe nations there seem to have been a few people, such as Moses’ father in law, and Rahab the harlot, who had been chosen by God to fulfil his will. For the most part, however, the same punishment awaited them which would await all of us were it not for the grace of God.

Although the New Testament speaks of salvation, the Old Testament seeks to make it clear why we are in desperate need of that salvation. A genuine and deep seated gratitude to God, for the sacrifice of Christ, is probably only attainable with a proper perception of why we need to be saved, and of our inability to save ourselves. Any attempt to tone the potential consequences of sin will neither serve us well, and nor will any consequent dimminution in our thankfulness redound to the glory of God. He could rightfully be doubly angry if, in our insolence, we were to throw Christ’s sacrifice back in God’s face. We have a warning:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10.29)

We do not need a return to fire and brimstone sermons, but neither do we need a god who is a pale image of the God revealed in scripture, and whose wrath is as real as his mercy. Both are present in the One who is.

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