Friday, May 4, 2012

My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

You may recognize the title of this post as coming from Isaiah 55:8. I've used this verse a few times when I've run across some difficult text or commandment in the Bible. I've basically used this verse to teach that God says, "You obey Me and like Me whether you understand why or not. You don't have to understand why or like it to obey it." Also, often when I cited Isaiah 55:8, I went on to verse 11 (kinda ignoring verse 10) to be sure we knew that God's word will do what He intends whether we understand or not. Though I never said it quite this way, the not so subtle message that my misuse of this passage sends is that God says, "Because I said so."

I'm sorry that I have used this passage that way. I do not believe that is the intent of Isaiah 55:8 at all. If so, then how do we reconcile that with words from the same author in Isaiah 1:18 where God says, "Come, now, and let us reason together"?

Even a cursory reading of Isaiah 55 shows that God's mercy and love are under consideration in the context. He is more merciful and loving than we are. He will extend His salvation to everyone on the earth. That's what is meant by "My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways." God will show mercy and pardon to all who seek Him. What a beautiful picture is painted of God's word coming to the earth to enrich and nourish His creation! Just as the rain and snow from heaven give life to the earth, God's word gives life to us.

Back to Isaiah 1... The context there is a contrast between God's love and mercy and Israel's abuse and oppression. God says, "Come and reason with me. Be merciful as I am. That is My desire for you." You see, God's desire for us is to reason and learn that He is loving and merciful, more so than we are. Because of that, His ultimate desire for us is that we be more loving and merciful, to be better than we are. And He helps us to accomplish that through the example and the forgiveness that is in Jesus.

God wants us to understand that love is the ultimate good. Love is at the center of all of His communication with us (Matt. 22:36-40). God challenges us to learn that. God does not say, "You just do exactly what I tell you and only what I tell you without thinking about it because you're too simple to understand Me anyway." I've used Isaiah 55:8-11 to say almost that, but God wants much more from us. Blind submission is not even remotely under consideration there.

If I don't understand how a directive from God or an action of God is loving, then I don't understand that directive or action. God help me to understand Him better and be more loving, like Him.

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