February 3, 2018
READ: Isaiah 42:21-25; 43:1-3
I have called you by name; you are mine (43:1).
The bundle of hyperactivity known as Liam was making a day of terrorising his older (and much calmer) brother. Finally, Mum had enough of it, and Liam earned the mother of all timeouts. Well, at least for the rest of the morning.
Just before lunch, the boys’ mum spied a note on the biscuit tin with its dwindling contents. In the distinctive handwriting of the aggrieved older brother it read: “Save one for Liam.” Ah, the sweet aroma of compassion.
Compassion is a key aspect of God’s nature. But it’s a common misunderstanding that the God of the Old Testament is full of wrath while the God of the New Testament is the compassionate one. He’s the same God, and we see both aspects of Him throughout Scripture.
In Isaiah 42, God had disciplined His people for their disobedience. “His own people have been robbed and plundered, enslaved, imprisoned and trapped,” said the prophet. “They are fair game for anyone and have no one to protect them, no one to take them back home” (v.22). “Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the Lord, against whom we sinned” (v.24).
Thankfully, the passage goes on. “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you’ ” (43:1).
Israel needed God’s compassionate correction. And Liam needed his timeout, or he would have persisted in self-centred behaviour. He also needed his family’s love and grace.
Any glimpse we see of that kind of grace in this world reflects the loving nature of God. He corrects us when we sin because He loves us. But He never abandons us. He says, “I have called you by name; you are mine” (v.1).
365-day plan: Exodus 4:1-17
Read Isaiah 24:1-3 to see what God’s righteous anger looks like. Then compare it to the promise of Isaiah 43:1-13.
In what ways have you received God’s grace? How will you compassionately extend it to others?