God message was declared over and over again in the Old Testament, “Come back to Me.” But turning away from God was something mankind has always been really good at. Time and time again God patiently and with pity continued to call His people back, but there would come a time when His wrath would be aroused against His people without remedy…and His active wrath would be poured out on His people. We see God’s active wrath in the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the many invading enemy armies. But what about today? God’s anger concerning sin hasn’t changed…His message hasn’t changed either…He still wants us to come back to Him. But instead of active wrath we see God’s passive wrath…His allowing and permitting of things to happen to mankind…all in the hopes of us returning to Him.
Come back to God…for He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11) Turn back from the empty life you’ve been living and allow Him to show you the ultimate plan and purpose you were created for. And the Lord Himself promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him, if you look for Him with all your heart. (Deuteronomy 4:29) But the greatest promise is contained in the two words that begin this verse – Even now. It means regardless of how far you’ve wandered…or despite what you’ve done in the past…right now, at this moment, the Lord is lovingly waiting for you to come back home.
Nothing in recent history has humbled the world like this tiny microscopic virus called COVID19. Powerful countries around the globe have been brought to their knees, their economies devastated, their people frightened and alone as this virus spreads. World Leaders resigned now to the fact that all their military might is no match, all their counter-intelligence and international clout meaningless in the face of this unseen enemy. Yes, COVID19 has humbled us. It has shown us just how vulnerable and defenseless human beings can be. But this can also be a good thing. For it has plainly shown us how little mankind is in control and how much we need God. The humility spoken about here is a change of heart…of turning from evil and seeking the face of God in true repentance…and seeing our land healed.
He is not a sadistic God that takes delight in watching the wicked die, nor is He unjust. But He is the only One that can proclaim with all certainty that His promises and judgement will prevail. So the decision-making becomes ours. Do we continue down the path of unethical and immoral actions and behaviors, or do we change course, shifting our focus from self to Jesus, and yielding up tendencies and propensities to a Savior who can forgive and save us. “Come back to Me,” the Lord is exhorting us…the invitation is there, but ultimately it becomes our responsibility to act on it.
Turning away from the Lord can be very subtle. Every time I tell myself that I believe God…but then in the next breath lament that I’m not worthy enough to be used by Him…I’m turning away. Or every time I’m confronted by God’s truth and I distance myself rather than allow His truth to change me…I’m turning away. The deception of sin will always be veiled in mistrust and disobedience.
The Amplified Bible pens the above Scripture this way, ” If you will turn (repent) and give heed to My reproof, behold, I (Wisdom) will pour out My Spirit upon you. I will make My words known to you.” This admonishment then is two-pronged. First, we must stop and agree with God we’re going down the wrong path. Now our stubborn carnal nature will usually reject this idea at first…that’s because nobody likes to be told they’re wrong! But it’s the second part of this Scripture that’s even more important. For if we do turn back to God, He promises not only a renewed relationship with Him, but an outpouring of His Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding…that we may know Him more intimately.
In this very well-known and often quoted Scripture, we like to gloss over the first part and instead focus on the end…the promised things God will do for us. But in doing so, we miss two small but very important words contained in this verse. The first, is how this Scripture starts, “If My people…” “If” puts the burden and responsibility squarely on our shoulders to follow through with the conditions God has placed here…namely, for us to have a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit. It is only at that time and after that is completed, (marked by the second important word, “then”) that God will forgive and heal the land. You could call these prerequisites…things God requires of us beforehand…not because He’s a mean tyrant, but because He’s a good and just God.
Admitting we’re wrong and asking forgiveness is hard to do. And when it comes to acknowledging our sin before God it gets even tougher. It’s not that we’re deliberately rebelling against Him…of blatantly and conspicuously sinning for all to see. No, it’s rather sins by omission that really mess us up. These are secret sins that are easy to hide…things that only we may know about. These sins of omission are things neglected and left undone in our lives…like regular time in the Word, or prayer. Or they’re things we chose to turn a blind eye to…knowing the Lord wants us to act, but choosing to be apathetic instead. These sins of omission are disobedience at its best and need to be dealt with, for as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier to allow these sins to hide in our sub-conscience and justify them rather than admit they are wrong.
The Lord says to you today…come back. Turn around and face Me, for it’s only by Me that you can be delivered from all the evil that still clings to you. You may have accepted Me in the past, but you are still a slave to things you have not been able to give up. You have been set free of those things, but you either don’t fully realize it or just don’t want to leave them behind. Change directions today… for those chains that have bound you in the past have been broken off – you are no longer a victim…you are a victor.