We all know that God is loving, compassionate, merciful and faithful. From these attributes of God, we can draw strength and have the confidence that we are in good hands. However, because we know that God loves us and he cares about us, we have the tendency to abuse his grace. We live the way we want, even if this means going beyond the limits set by God. By the time we know it, we are already living in sin. Will God overlook this? Certainly not! The other attributes that we need to consider are that God is just, righteous and holy. The justice of God demands that sin be dealt with. Indeed, God is loving and merciful, but he will not tolerate sin. He fully demonstrated this to Israel when he said, “I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished” (Jer. 46:28).
Because of the wrong notion of God, many blame him for their predicaments. They ask, “If God is a loving God, why does he allow horrible things to happen?” This is precisely the result of their ignorance of God’s justice, holiness and righteousness. Before they blame God, they should first ask, “What have I done to deserve this?” They might even make justifications and say that they have been praying to God and do all sorts of service for him. However, God’s response will be, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” (Isa. 1:15-17). While God is just, his love continues to reach out to us. He will not totally destroy us, but will allow us the opportunity to repent and change.
Rather than blaming God and trying to justify ourselves, God commanded, “Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa. 1:18). God wants us to settle our issues once and for all. The fact is that though we have committed terrible sins, God can and will forgive us our sins, if we only repent and turn away from our wicked ways. He used the whiteness of snow to demonstrate how far he is willing to cleanse us, in spite of how much blood we have on our hands. What it takes is for us to acknowledge that we have sinned and that we need the grace of God to be restored and changed.
While there is this command to settle our issues with him, and there is a provision for restoration, God will not force himself in. It is still up to us if we want to take heed of his Words. He said, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword” (Isa. 1:19-20). Those who refuse to repent will continue to be denied of God’s blessings, because the justice of God demands that those who are obedient and are willing to reform themselves will be blessed. It will be unjust for God to give equal benefits to those who persist in doing evil after coming to the knowledge of the truth and to those who persevere in their faith and walk uprightly. He will certainly make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked.
Whether we will fully enjoy God’s blessings depends on how we respond to his commands. Those who choose to be stubborn will suffer for it. When Israel chose to live in sin, God said, “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil” (Isa. 1:5-6). This is how much Israel had to suffer for her sins because of God’s justice. However, God’s love was extended and thus there is the command to reason together. God does not want that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be saved. Let us desire to eat the best from the land. Let us not settle for the second best. Therefore, let us be willing and obedient. Glory to God!