Last night one of our adult children gave us further insight into the unbelief and subsequent behavior of one of his adult children. Our conversation was uplifting because he shared his own faith, but devastating to hear the lengths of rebellion in another who should be acting more like a grown-up and less like a bratty child.
Rebellion is not new. It started in Eden and is described throughout the Old Testament, particularly by the prophets. They speak to God’s people, people who know better, but have chosen sin rather than obedience. The consolation is that God is not finished with them. Here is a bit of what Isaiah had to say after receiving a vision from God:
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.’ Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it . . . . Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners . . . .“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats . . . . Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me . . . . I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:1-23)
God is angry. His people are not only disobedient and rebellious, they ‘pretend’ to be religious with rituals and praying. Yet their hypocrisy is no match for His plan. If they change their attitude, He will wash away their sin and bless them. He is going to turn things around:
“Therefore the Lord declares, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: ‘Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes. I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.’” (Isaiah 1:24-26)
This last part outlines the Lord’s power to bring wrath upon those who forsake Him and righteousness to those who repent. This prophecy is repeated in the other prophetic books, summed up in two verses from Jeremiah:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23:5–6)
Jesus, how good to read this today and be reminded that no matter how much a rebel might think they are living in freedom, their day is coming when all options run out. Hundreds of years before You were born, You promised to come, to confront sin but also to do the most amazing thing; You change hearts. You took wrath for sin on Yourself and paid our debt. You indwell sinners, helpless to change ourselves without Your grace, and become our righteousness. A changed life is our desire, not only for this grandchild of ours, but for all who are rebellious and unable to rescue themselves.