Isaiah 55:6 commands us to ‘seek the LORD’.

This command was originally given to people who had turned their backs on the Lord and put idols in his place – they prayed to idols, they honoured idols, they sacrificed to idols, they thanked idols for the blessings the true God had given them. In all of this they were disobedient to the commands and the covenant given to them by God.

The primary purpose of this ‘seek the LORD’ is to command people to turn away from their false gods and back to the Lord, the one true God – to seek the Lord, not idols. This involves:

Calling upon the Lord [verse 6]
Forsaking the actions of idolatry [verse 7]
Forsaking the mindset of idolatry [verse 7]
Turning to the Lord [verse 7].

There is a serious urgency to this command to seek the Lord. It is an opportunity that will not always be available. We are told to seek the Lord ‘while he may be found’ and to call upon him ‘while he is near’.  This same urgency is seen elsewhere in the Scripture:

In the time of Noah God set a limit of 120 years during which his Spirit would strive with man [Genesis 6:3].

Amos had to prophesy ‘”The days are coming” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD” ‘ [Amos 8:11].

Jesus said: ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you’ [John 12:15], and

‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes’ [Luke 19:42].

No person should ever assume that they will always have the opportunity to seek the Lord, that they can delay turning to the Lord as long as they please. As the Scripture says: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …’ [Psalm 95:7,8]. There is a timeframe in which repentance is possible, beyond that there is the judgment.

But the point being made in Isaiah 55 is that repentance and restoration are possible. That if a person turns to the Lord during the window of opportunity:

God will have mercy upon them.
God will freely pardon them [verse 7].

Given the horrific nature of sin, and how offensive it is to God, it is quite reasonable to ask ‘How? How can God possibly pardon those who have put idols in his place? The answer is given to us: God’s thoughts are not human thoughts. God’s ways are not human ways [verse 9]. His thoughts and his ways are as far from ours as the heavens are far from earth. He does not think how we think. We think in terms of merit and demerit. For those who seek him and turn to him he thinks in terms of mercy.

As David wrote in Psalm 130:3,4:

‘If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O LORD, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.’

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014