The Compassion of the Lord
by Seattle ALC
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. ” (Isaiah 55: 1-3)
Compassion is a marvelous attribute. We all can appreciate knowing individuals that display compassion, especially when it is toward us. What a blessing it is to us when we are struggling, facing difficult situation, or battling the sin that the Hebrews writer says ” so easily besets us.” Compassion is not an attribute that comes easily to the heart. Our difficulties often compound when those close to us, find it difficult to show compassion. I don’t have to look beyond my own heart to know that I need to be taught compassion.
The prophet Isaiah lived in a time when the nation and people of Israel faced many real and dangerous enemies. Their enemies were not only from the outside of the nation, but many had turned to worshipping other gods and idols. Their neighbors, Assyria and Egypt were powerful nations that threatened the existence of Israel. They went back and forth between self worship (worshipping idols and other gods), and seeking an alliance with their powerful neighbors. The people of Israel looked every direction but to the one true God that the prophets of that day pointed them.
Twenty seven hundred years have gone by. How much has changed over that time. On the outside, many things have changed some might even say we live in a different world. But do we? We may live in a distant part of the world from ancient Israel, dress different and have conveniences that were not even imagined in the day of Isaiah. We still live in a broken world as sinners in need of grace. Jeremiah wrote: “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. ” (Lamentations 3: 22-26)
These two prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah lived over two and a half millenniums ago and many things have changed. But our basic needs for survival have not and neither have our spiritual needs. Isn’t it wonderful that what these prophet spoke and wrote are still words of life?! That our great God is still full of compassion who doesn’t fail and the invitation to come and taste what He alone is able to supply. These ancient prophets looked to the promise of God’s redeeming grace. Today we are called to the fulfilment that is provided in what Jesus completed for us and for them, in His suffering, death, and resurrection. Why would we labor for something that does not fill us or satisfy? The living Word invites us to hear, so that our souls may live. We are restored to the everlasting covenant, by faith in the completed work of someone else, Jesus Christ. The Gospel call is for all, and to the thirsty comes that which is able to satisfy.
We have all experienced what it is to have a natural thirst. It is God’s Word that awakens us to know the thirst that Jesus calls a blessed one. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. ” (Matthew 5:6) Let us pray for this hunger and thirst to spread across, not only our land, but all of the lands of this world we inhabit. His mercy is not consumed or able to fail, but are new each day as the prophet wrote. Our God will not run out of resources to supply the hungering and thirsting.
We recently confirmed the twenty sixth Confirmation class here in Seattle, joining many other young adults, in our Federation, in confessing their faith and renewing their covenant of Baptism. May we continue to pray for them all, that they would know the fullness of the Lord, whose “compassions fail not”. May we all find ourselves partaking of “that which is good”.
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