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Monday, July 11, 2016

The Heart of God for the Prodigal (Isaiah 1:2,4)

"Hear, O heavens! O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:
I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
Ah, sinful nation,
a people loaded with guilt,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the LORD;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him."

God totally understands the heart of a parent who has a wayward child--for He Himself has a prodigal. He describes Israel as a vine brought out of Egypt and planted in Canaan (Psalm 80:8). This vine is ravaged, cut down, and burned not long after it takes root. Here in Isaiah the nation is described as "stripped by foreigners and "laid waste".

He invites Israel to return to him, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are crimson, they shall be like wool." This "reasoning together" is a legal plea--a call for an admission of guilt. Genuine repentance is acknowledging your guilt and recognizing a just penalty for sin. God's way of reconciliation always demands the confession of sin; honest confession and repentance bring cleansing and restoration.

This broken relationship between the LORD and His people reminds me of the story of the prodigal in Luke's gospel, who has squandered his possessions with wasteful living and spent all that he had (See Luke 15:11-32). The heart of the father is revealed in his words, "but when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." The father throws a party for the son who had turned his back on him but now returns in brokenness and humility. Forgiveness and restoration are offered and their relationship is restored.

God knows and understands the heart of a parent toward the prodigal "who has journeyed to a far country", for He Himself has such a child. He knows how parents feel as they pray for their prodigal and look out in the distance for a glimpse of his returning. Two pairs of eyes look out in the distance, both His and the parents!

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Psalm 87:1-7
  • What does this Psalm teach about Jerusalem and God's relationship or promises regarding this city?
Psalm 125:1-5
  • What does this Psalm teach about those who trust in the LORD?
  • What does this Psalm teach about those who refuse to trust in the LORD?
Isaiah 1:1-4:6
  • Why does the LORD refuse to accept Israel's offerings and prayers?
  • What will have to take place before Jerusalem can be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City?
  • What place is Jerusalem to have among the nations?
  • Why are prosperity and pride dangerous partners? What role to they play in Israel's downfall?
  • Three times in chapter two "the dread of the Lord" and "the splendor of his majesty" is mentioned. What happens when man encounters "the splendor of his majesty"?
  • How do people treat one another when they are under the judgment of God?
  • How does Isaiah describe the women during the time of judgment?
  • How are women included in the restoration of the survivors?
  • How did God lead the children of Israel when they left the bondage of Egypt and how does He manifest His presence to the survivors in Israel?
Turning truth into prayer
Pray for those in your family who have "journeyed to a far country". Thank the LORD that He looks out in the distance with longing for the return of the prodigal.