I wonder sometimes how frustrated God gets with us. I think we see some of his frustration here in this passage. He’s talking specifically about Israel, but it could easily apply to us. He said,
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations – a people who continually provoke me to my very face. (1-3)
The amazing thing about God is that he could’ve just left us to die. He could’ve said, “Well, nobody’s seeking me, so why should I seek them?” But instead, even though no one pursued him, he pursued us. And he does so much to get our attention. He’s constantly calling to us, “Here I am,” and holding out his hands towards us.
But instead of responding to him in love, we intentionally provoke him to his face with our actions. Instead of being a sweet incense to him, we become smoke in his nostrils. And because of our willfulness, we will be judged. God says,
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps – both your sins and the sins of your fathers,” says the Lord…I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds…for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me. (6-7,12)
Still, judgment is not without mercy. God will show mercy on those who respond to his call. In verses 8-9, he says,
As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is yet some good in it,’ so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.
Just as God did not completely forsake Israel, but spared those whose hearts were his, he will not forsake those today whose hearts belong to him.
The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. (II Peter 2:9)
The question we need to ask ourselves is how do we respond to God’s call in our lives? Do we run to his embrace? Or do we obstinately turn our backs on him and provoke him to his face?
Lord, let me not have a hardened heart, but a heart that is soft and responds to you. Let me not frustrate you with my obstinacy, but to warm your heart by responding to your call and to your love. Draw me close to you. Let my heart be yours in every way. In Jesus name, amen.