“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” —Isaiah 43:25, NIV
Isaiah is perhaps the most “evangelical” of the Old Testament books. In this particular chapter the Lord, through the prophet, reminds Israel of some of the many ways God, their Redeemer, (43:14) has delivered them in spite of their rebellion against Him.
I am intrigued by the phrase “for my own sake” in this verse. Israel’s rebellion against God made God an object of ridicule among the neighbouring nations, particularly when disaster came upon the nation as a result of that sin. What kind of God couldn’t keep His subjects in line? What power had a God whose subjects ignored and abused Him? The restoration of Israel was as much a matter of restoring God’s damaged reputation as it was of restoring Israel to a place of blessing.
But there is another feeling we get as we read Isaiah’s words. If ever the loving heart of God is exposed in the pages of the Old Testament, it is here in Isaiah. We find God pleading for His wayward people to return to Him as a parent would plead with a child whose actions and attitudes are breaking that parent’s heart. He longs to forgive and had opened the door so that forgiveness can happen, so that joy and gladness will be restored to a heart wearied by their waywardness.
Several years ago I facilitated the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the church where I was then serving. I asked the people present to calculate, if they could, how many sins they would commit in an average lifetime if they only committed one sin per day. Then they were to multiply that by all the people presently in the world. After that they were to try to imagine adding to that the sins of all the people who ever lived, supposing that all those people had only committed one sin a day during their lifetime. Once that exercise (a futile one, I confess) was done, they were to try to imagine adding all the sins of all the future generations that would live until the end of time.
Isaiah writes “you have burdened me with you sins” in verse 24. Every one of those sins, and all the others (since we don’t only manage to sin once a day) represent another bit of the weight Christ carried on the cross on our behalf; sins that were felt through each blow of the hammer as the nails went into the flesh of the Son of God.
After the service, one woman remarked that she couldn’t hold the tears back when she realized just what Christ’s death involved at that moment when He took our sins on Himself.
Most of us try not to knowingly hurt the ones we love. I pray that I will have the same consideration for my loving Heavenly Father, One who feels the weight and pain of every one of those sins to an extent that I can never even imagine.