Isaiah 58:1-14, Isaiah 59:1-21, Matthew 21:12-22
I’ve had a somewhat rocky relationship with my mother for years. My family and I moving halfway across the country from Texas to Tennessee amplified this. We didn’t see other family members much when we lived in the same town, and now we lived a 12-hour drive away from one another.
Our relationship has broken down for a few reasons, but it’s all rooted in our sin. Sin destroys relationships and has since almost the very beginning of time. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, strife was introduced into their relationship with one another and with God (Genesis 3). Since sin fractured all of creation, and Jesus hasn’t yet come back, it’s no surprise that we still have broken relationships today.
God’s perfection is a primary difference between Him and us. Though He experiences the results of our broken relationship with Him, He isn’t the one to blame. In most cases, we can blame two parties in a relationship that’s gone south. With God, however, we can only look in the mirror.
In our passage today, Israel learned this truth the hard way. They were punished for their sin against God, and they experienced the inevitable disconnection from Him that sin brings. They were hopeless without Him and they knew it. A life without God is a life of chaos, and we all know chaos when we see it.
The distance Israel felt from God was not because God was deaf to their prayers. It was because of their sin against Him.
Humanity alone is responsible for their separation from God. Yet, even in our sin, God doesn’t turn away from us completely. In fact, we can say with Israel that “the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). Israel learned that unlike some relationships on earth that may be irreparable, their relationship with the Lord was always within reach because of His grace.
It’s possible that my relationship with my mother will never be fully repaired. This saddens me. However, I know that my Father in heaven is always ready and willing to mend the wound that sin puts on our relationship. Not only is He ready and willing—He is persistent. He pursues us most clearly in the death of His Son, who took our sin on Himself and defeated death with His resurrection. Through the cross and the empty tomb, He closed the gap.
Written by Brandon D. Smith