This past weekend I had the privilege of spending some time with a group of high school students on our annual retreat. As a community we devoted a good portion of our time to silent meditation on four verses from the Holy Scriptures. Here are some reflections springing from that time of meditation.
First Meditation: Isaiah 48:17
“This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’”
What struck me immediately was the powerful juxtaposition of the two divine titles, Redeemer and Holy One. If he is indeed the Holy One of Israel, his wrath against the Israelites (and us) is just. We have sinned and fully deserve whatever punishment he metes out. When compared to his holiness, all our righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). What then is our sin?
And yet—the Lord is our Redeemer too. How can it be that the Holy One would redeem those who are depraved completely, dead in our sins, by nature objects of his wrath? Blessed juxtaposition! Amazing grace, indeed.
The wonder of his mercy, grace, and unfailing love continues. Not only does the Holy One reveal himself as our Redeemer, he then condescends to teach us what is best for us, to direct us in the way we should go.
Pause and reflect on this for a moment.
God is what is best for us. When his creatures, fashioned in his image and for his glory, rebel against him, what does he do? Is it not enough that he has made a way for us to return to him? that he would allow us to know and be known by him—and the rest is up to us?
No, his grace is too limitless for that. Like a loving Father, he gently instructs and guides us back to himself: God, who redeems us despite our unconscionable sinfulness, then teaches us what is best for us, directs us in the way we should go. Surely this is love like no other. To him be glory forever and ever.