Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
IF ANYTHING AT ALL STANDS BETWEEN US AND THE FULLNESS OF OUR FATHER’S FELLOWSHIP, THE REMOVAL OF THAT HINDRANCE OUGHT TO BE A MATTER OF GREAT CONCERN TO US. On any scale of importance or urgency, our relationship to God must rank first. If we’re cut off from Him, how can we concentrate on anything else?
It is sin, of course, that alienates us from God. We can be thankful that by the atoning death of His Son, God has made it possible for us to be forgiven. By virtue of His Son’s death for us, He is able to justify us without being unjust Himself (Romans 3:26). But God has moved as far in our direction as He can without overriding the freedom of our will. As things stand now, the next move is ours. The process of reconciliation can’t go any further until we openly acknowledge, without excuse, that we need to be forgiven. And God’s requirement of repentance (Luke 13:3) means that we must make a radical turn, not just feeling sorry for our sin but actually committing ourselves to its removal from our lives. We can’t have our sin and be forgiven of it too.
In Isaiah’s day, the spiritual conditions in Jerusalem were deplorable. Continuing to practice flagrant sin, the people still came to the temple to worship. But their sins, unacknowledged and unrepented of, stood between them and God: “When you spread out your hands,” God said, “I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear” (Isaiah 1:15). The problem lay not in God’s inability to forgive but in their unwillingness to repent. So Isaiah said, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Who among us can read these words and not think of penitent steps we need to take so that God can show His love to us?
“Nothing has been capable, dear Lord, to hinder you from being all mine, neither heaven, nor your divinity, nor the gibbet of the cross; grant me the grace, that nothing may hinder me from being all yours, to whom I owe myself both for creation and redemption” (Lucy Herbert).