I have had a number of personal relationships that have been severely damaged by one or two unfortunate interactions. One harsh word, one snide comment, one misunderstanding and the relationship is broken. My best friend often reminds me that most human relationships can’t handle more than one or two offenses.
We see this in the question Simon Peter put to the Savior: “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). How very gracious, in his own warped perspective, for Peter to take it up to seven! The reality is that if God treated us the way we so often treat one another, we would be undone forever.
Instead, in Scripture the Lord is constantly calling us back to Himself, and we are given so many incentives for waiting on Him. He gives us many reasons to hope in His mercy and grace. As the old saying goes, “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” This changes everything as we press on through this fallen world with sinful hearts, fighting for holiness but still failing along the way.
After bringing a severe indictment against God’s people for their sin, Isaiah begins to hold out the hope of the gospel. He cried out to God on behalf of his people: “Lord, be gracious to us! We wait for You” (Isaiah 33:2). This short prayer is full of instruction for those who need a new supply of mercy and grace. Isaiah teaches us to remember that, throughout the Old Testament, the Lord revealed Himself to be a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.
For those who wait on the Lord, Isaiah sees a future of restoration, glory, and forgiveness. He reminds those who will hope in the Lord with him that they will “see the King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17), a foreshadowing of the people of God seeing the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. Isaiah also declares new creation blessings that come through the finished work of Jesus (33:20-24). His prophecies about gospel restoration are spoken in symbolic language to help arouse the hearts and emotions of God’s people.
Finally, Isaiah declares that those who wait on the Lord to be gracious to them will be “forgiven their iniquity” (33:24). What greater need do we have than our need for the living and true God to forgive all our sin?
In Christ, we can mourn deeply over the ways we have rebelled against the Lord, while we simultaneously hope in His mercy and grace. The saying is indeed true: “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” Because this is so, we can confidently wait on Him.
Written by Nick Batzig