In contrast to yesterday's Old Testament reading, today's (Isaiah 65.1-12) shows us another facet of God's character--his desire to be sought and found. Yesterday, we read about God's hiddenness, especially as a result of sin. Our encouragement in times like those, from Martin Luther, was to seek God and pursue him. Today's passage dovetails nicely with that counsel and shows us God's desire and willingness to be found. More than that, by demonstrating God's revelation to the nations outside Israel (a scandalous thought to Old Testament Israel), it shows us that the ones who fail to find him are those who willingly do not want to find him or willingly pass by his grace and mercy.
I was sought by those who did not ask;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’
to a nation that did not call on my name.
I spread out my hands all day long
to a rebellious people
who walk in the path that is not good,
following their own thoughts...
They say, ‘Keep to yourself,
don’t come near me, for I am too holy for you!’
--Isaiah 65.1-2, 5 CSB
Here the nations who did not have the benefit of a prophet sent to them are the ones who acknowledge God, while Israel rejects him in favor of their own sinful habits. The reference to 'spread[ing] out my hands all day long' was recognized by the Church Fathers not only as an image of God's merciful call to Israel but as a picture of Christ's suffering on the cross whereby he drew all people to himself (cf. Jn 12.32).
Moreover, God's gracious work of salvation and restoration in Christ Jesus was seen here by Leo the Great, who sees the whole of God's work summed up in this passage. He writes:
If, dearly beloved, we comprehend faithfully and wisely the beginning of our creation, we shall find that humankind was made in God’s image, to the end that he might imitate the Creator and that our race attains its highest natural dignity, by the form of the divine goodness being reflected in us, as in a mirror. And assuredly to this form the Savior’s grace is daily restoring us, so long as that which in the first Adam fell, is raised up again in the second. And the cause of our restoration is nothing else but the mercy of God, whom we would not have loved unless he had first loved us and dispelled the darkness of our ignorance by the light of his truth.
--Leo the Great, Sermon 12.1, cited in Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures.
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