God Is Eager to Forgive You

Bloodthirsty, vicious, fearsome, violent, wicked, indomitable—just a few of the words that describe the ancient Assyrian empire. Though Israel was just a bump in the road to these pillagers, it was a bump they desperately wanted to own. So, they started breathing down the neck of God’s chosen people. As the net began to tighten, the kings of Israel began to get nervous. Rather than turn to the God who split the Red Sea (Ex. 15), toppled the walls of Jericho, and defeated a five-king alliance by hurling hailstones from heaven (Josh. 10), the southern kingdom of Judah opted to make an alliance with Egypt to protect themselves from the juggernaut of the Assyrians. Sounds reasonable, right? Humanly speaking, of course it does. But it also shows how little they thought of God. They chose to embrace pagan polytheists rather than depend on the Lord of Armies. 

This account may feel far removed from our modern context. However, though the scenery and characters may have changed, the major plot remains the same. Israel’s problem was idolatry. In their hearts they had chosen to replace God with something else—in this case the Egyptians. You and I are no different. Our hearts twist good gifts from God into idols for worship: food, friends, power, money, shoes, social media, entertainment, alcohol, or sex. 

That’s the bad news. But this post is about good news—good news found in the back half of Isaiah 30. After condemning Israel’s sinful alliance with Egypt, Isaiah shares good news for those caught in the clutches of sin. And here it is: God is eager to forgive you.

Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, 
and is rising up to show you compassion, 
for the Lord is a just God. 
All who wait patiently for him are happy. (Isaiah 30:18)

Waiting to Show Compassion

Israel’s rebellion was nothing new. No matter how far back you want to go to trace their history, you’ll find disobedience. Stay in the era of the kings, and you’ll encounter rampant idolatry that never seems to go away. Rewind to the epoch of the Judges, and you’ll discover a land of people who did what was right in their own eyes (21:25). Go back even farther to the time of Moses, and you find the nation bowing before a golden calf. Before that it was the family of Jacob and their many indiscretions. God clearly did not choose Abraham’s family as His special covenant people because of their cherubic obedience. From the beginning they’ve been a family (and eventually a nation) of scoundrels. But in Isaiah 30, a few centuries into their rebellion, God says that He’s just waiting to show them compassion. 

The same is true today.

The New Testament counterpart to this promise is one of Jesus’ most famous parables, known as “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11–32). You’re probably familiar with it. A man’s younger son demands his inheritance from his father, though his father is in perfect health. The father complies, and the young man leaves home to go spend his fortune on wanton, licentious living. Then the money runs out, and a famine hits the land. The former playboy has been reduced to dining with pigs. So he decides to humble himself and return home. 

Now the promise of Isaiah 30 plays out. As the son shuffles toward his childhood home, no doubt planning a spiel asking to be merely a servant in his father’s house, he hears a cry. He looks up and sees his father running toward him with arms wide open. 

The old man doesn’t even hear his son’s apology. He’s too busy ordering the fattened calf to be slaughtered and the signet ring to be placed on the son’s finger and a new robe to be put on his shoulders. 

This father couldn’t wait to show compassion to his son. We easily imagine him watching the window every day, searching for the figure of his son coming up the road. He had his response ready. All he needed was for his son to return. 

And He’ll do it again. And again. This same generous, benevolent father who couldn’t wait to show mercy to his lost son is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to show mercy to you today. He’s just waiting to see you coming up the road. 

Waiting to Answer

Isaiah has more good news to share with the people. He goes on to give this promise: 

For people will live on Zion in Jerusalem. You will never weep again; he will show favor to you at the sound of your outcry; as soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isaiah 30:19, emphasis added)

Not only is God eagerly waiting to show compassion to the wayward sinner; He’s also waiting to answer their prayers.

It may not be so hard to believe that God will welcome you back with open arms. You’ve likely heard that parable enough times not to be surprised by it any longer. But maybe you find it a little too good to be true that He would actually want to listen to your prayers right away. Perhaps you think that you’ll be put on “prayer probation” during which you shouldn’t really expect God to answer any prayers. 

Isaiah assures the people that this isn’t the case. God promises to show favor at the faintest whisper of a cry. He promises to answer “as soon as He hears.” No probation. Just the ear of God, listening to the cry of a penitent sinner’s heart. He doesn’t see you as “damaged goods,” a “second-class citizen,” or a blight on His church. The sinner who has turned to Christ in forgiveness has the righteousness of the Savior credited to his account. It’s this righteousness, not the black mark of sin, that the forgiving Father sees. 

Just as the Father of the wayward son freely and fully reinstated the prodigal to sonship status, so God will not send you to the minor leagues before calling you back up to the majors. He’s just waiting to hear your cry. 

Waiting to Give Direction 

I have been praying for the restoration of a young person who formerly attended my church. While I believe that this person is truly a believer, extrication from the web of sin will be no easy task. Sin will carry consequences, and difficult questions will demand answers. From where this person is standing, the top of the pit seems far away. 

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you or someone close to you is caught in sin’s snare of destruction. And though God’s wonderful promises of compassion sound glorious, you’re just not sure how to proceed. 

God has a promise for that as well: 

Whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

God couldn’t wait for Israel to turn back to Him. He promised to hear their cry, to show immediate compassion, and to give direction. 

Some situations have no easy answers. The way forward is anything but clear. God’s Word is sufficient for even the darkest, most serpentine paths: 

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:3–4)

I don’t mean to say that repentance will be a piece of cake. It likely won’t be. However, these very same great and precious promises provide assurance that the Good Shepherd will Himself lead you all the way. 

Israel didn’t heed the warning, and they didn’t care about the promise of forgiveness. But the same offer stands for you today. God is just waiting to show compassion, answer your cry, and give you direction. Will you turn to Him? 

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About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son and daughter, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at biblestudynerd.com.

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