The Abundance of God's Grace
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)
King Ahab was one of the evilest kings in the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:30). He and Jezebel were a regular Bonnie and Clyde (19:1-3). He built a temple for Baal in Samaria, erected Ashura poles for the people to worship at, provided financial support for over 800 false prophets of Baal, and had many of God’s prophets put to death. His epitaph could easily read: “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (16:33). Ahab once offered to purchase the land of a man named Naboth. When he refused, Ahab goes into depression—the equivalent of an adult baby-tantrum. So what does Jezebel do? She has Naboth murdered so Ahab can take possession of his land. When God condemns Ahab through Elijah the prophet and tells him that because of what he has done to Naboth, he will destroy Ahab and his household, we are told that Ahab repented and “tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly” (21:27). Amazingly, God extends mercy! God says to Elijah, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster upon his house" (1 Ki. 21:29). If there was anyone deserving of God’s wrath and condemnation, Ahab was certainly a prime candidate. Nevertheless, as God declared to Moses, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exod. 34:6-7). God is amazingly gracious and merciful and forgiving. While God being merciful to Ahab tends to irritate our sense of justice, this is good news for us. Because if God can extend mercy to someone like Ahab, then there is hope for us. In 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins [to God], he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a glorious truth! No matter how badly we blow it, no matter what kind of wicked thoughts we struggle with, we can be sure that each time we come to God pleading for mercy and forgiveness, there is always an abundance of grace at the cross. God stands ever ready to forgive those who come to him. “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” (Isa. 55:6-7).
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