“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
The Lord doesn’t skimp when it comes to forgiveness. He isn’t stingy with his grace. When he is pouring out the blessing it leads to an overflowing cup not thirst. That seems like maybe it’s a no brainer. Maybe you think, “well of course that’s true, why are we going over this once again”, but do you really get it? Do you actually believe it?
The Lord is rich in grace and it is out of those riches that he bestows on us true forgiveness. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…” (Eph. 1:7). He’s so wealthy that he is constantly giving it away and just doesn’t stop. He doesn’t hold back when it comes to grace. He’s not afraid that his forgiveness might be misused by those he pours it out on, that is almost a guarantee. But his giving is both benevolent and efficacious. It actually does something to change the object of his grace. As his riches overflow his account into theirs it teaches them how to be rich and benevolent with grace.
Isaiah 55 is full of imagery that shows his grace. The chapter begins with the prophet calling people to come to the gracious God of heaven saying, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Is. 55:1). Are you poor? Homeless? Hungry? Are you in spiritual need (helpful hint: you are)? Then come to the Father who gives good gifts.
He calls the wicked back to himself, and what does he do when they come to him? He has compassion on them, and relevant to our topic it says, he will abundantly pardon. You might say within yourself, “You could just say he will pardon. Isn’t it a bit much to keep emphasizing this? You don’t want God to sound like he doesn’t have standards. He won’t pardon just anyone…” No, God is a God who will abundantly pardon any who come to him. Yes, there are qualifications that can be made, but not here. He doesn’t go light on forgiveness, he lays it on thick. He’s not your mom trying to stretch every dollar, pinching pennies. He isn’t your dad always turning down the thermostat to save on the electric bill. His pardon is abundant.
It’s interesting that most of us have heard the verses directly following this one. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8-9). You usually hear this text quoted in connection to in-depth theological debates when someone points out that we can’t know all the mysteries of God, but have you ever heard it in reference to how forgiving God is? It’s not that it doesn’t apply more broadly but it happens to come right after a statement about the extravagance and extremity of God’s forgiveness. He isn’t cheap. He pardons abundantly.