Our opening line makes me think about God from a marketing perspective. “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’” In our marketing classes, we tell our students to be looking for those people who are looking for them. That’s the whole idea of attraction marketing. You want to be attractive and provide the goods or services to those who need them and want them. The image of God I have here is that he is waving his hands trying to get our attention.
How frustrating it must be for God to have given us the keys to the kingdom (in Jesus) only for us to leave them sitting on the table. It’s not just us. These prophetic words were originally directed to the Israelites, a people who was lost. That is, they were separated from God. What do we know of them? They rebelled. They were selfish. They followed other gods. Hmmm. That could be our society.
Was (and is) that behavior pleasing to God? Absolutely not! “These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.” We know how easy it is to lash out when we are angry. Think of a time when you blew a fuse, said some hurtful things that you wish like the dickens you could take back now. Whether these people were a stench to God or not, God still loved them. Even when he said, “I will pay them back in full!”
Some might call it tough love. You know when you act a bit harshly to someone you adore to help them grow, to teach them something, or to stop enabling the wrong behavior. God was seeking their repentance, not condemning them for their foolishness. That’s what we see from God for our own lives. He wants us to repent, he doesn’t want to condemn us. John 3:17 says, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
I liked the image of a bunch of grapes. You know how there are always a few bad, mushy grapes that don’t end up in your mouth. But you don’t throw out the whole bunch because of those “duds.” Instead, you look for the plump, juicy grapes that are going to taste absolutely delicious. “’But I will not destroy them all,’ says the Lord.” It’s God’s decision, not ours.
“Therefore” is one of those words that stands out in Scripture as definitive. What follows explains something “for that reason” or “as a consequence.” In verses 13-14, we see “therefore” followed by a number of less than desirable outcomes that God could decide is right for our offenses. Going through that list, I certainly want to be on the servant side of things. How about you?
Good news. We don’t have to suffer. God wants us all to be on his team. “All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.” Take a moment to just reflect on God’s simple ask here. What does it mean? Pray for God’s mercy and seek his truth. That is all.
Let’s pray … Lord, I know I have veered from the path you have set for me time and again. Forgive me for my wayward spirit. I desire now to be fully vested in you and your desires for me. Help me to use the gifts you have given me and help others do the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.