The Free Offer of Mercy
1“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.
2“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.
3“Incline your ear and come to Me
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
4“Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
5“Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
6Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
12“For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13“Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the LORD,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
The church I grew up in could sum up much of its theology in one statement: “Thou shalt not . . .” I don’t recall hearing about a Father’s love or how to live the Christian life. What I learned was that a wrathful God would punish me if I didn’t follow all the rules. And there seemed to be rules for everything—including what I could read, what I could wear, and what I could do.
As a teenage boy, I spent a lot of time begging the Lord to forgive me for one foolish thing or another. And I carried a constant weight of guilt and worry around with me everywhere I went. I just couldn’t seem to be good enough. In truth, the rules were a burden to me, and since I thought God made them, He was a burden too.
In my young adult years, I learned that my perception of God was wrong. He is gracious and loving. The commandments that He gave were designed to keep us
safe and free from shame. But even when we do mess up, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). That means He forgives our sin and “wipes out . . . transgressions,” remembering them no more (Is. 43:25). We may have to live with consequences but never with the weight of guilt.
God is not a burden. He is the burden-bearer (Ps. 68:19), who placed our sins on Jesus Christ, thereby relieving us of that heaviness. Don’t keep staggering under the load of guilt. Lay it down before a loving, gracious Lord who offers a yoke that is easy and light (Matt. 11:30).