How vast is God’s grace and how shall we describe it?
Two pictures from my Bible reading this morning demonstrate the amazing grace of God, the first from Isaiah:
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance. (Is. 55:1-2)
In the middle of a section on the suffering servant — a prophecy of Christ — God invites Israel to return to Him. What shall they bring? Nothing. They have no money. They cannot buy anything that will please God and ingratiate Him to them. Yet they are exhorted to come and buy and eat. They have no money. But they are to buy anyway? How does that work in a credit card-less society? (There were some wrinkled and perplexed eyebrows raised at the breakfast table over that conundrum this morning).
The solution? One comes and buys when he has no money when God gives it graciously. In fact, not only does God promise to give Israel what they need to sustain them (break and milk), but also that which is lavish and abundant — pictured here by the wine.
This is God’s grace that gives what the people need when they are incapable of procuring it themselves. They (and we) are unable and God gives not only what is needed, but gives gifts with lavishness and extravagance.
Picture two is found in the final words of the Old Testament:
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).
A day of God’s judgment and wrath is coming but Elijah will come first and be used by God to transform the hearts of Israel. And with those words, 400 words of silence from God commences.
Then among the first words in the New Testament (chronologically speaking) are those of the angel Gabriel to the astonished priest Zacharias:
“And he [the promised son John] will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-17)
With these words, the years of silence are broken and not only does God re-initiate communication with His people, but He reminds them, “I have not forgotten my final words to you — the prophet is still coming.” This, my friends, is grace. God speaks to accomplish the restoration of His people Israel to Himself. And in the process of restoration, He reminds them that He not forgotten anything he promised to them. He is a God of grace, providing salvation and remembering His promises.
We serve a God who is grace. And demonstrations of that grace abound in Scripture, if we have eyes to look and see.