16 Because I will not permanently contest with them, nor will I be furious forever; because if I did that, a spirit would wear out in my presence, even the breaths that I have given. 17 Because of their unfair covetousness I was furious; I struck them, I hid and was furious; but they kept turning back to their own roads. 18 I have seen their roads, but I will repair them; I will guide them and restore them with comfort, creating fruit for their mourners’ lips. 19 Peace, peace, to the distant and the nearby, says Yahveh; and I will repair them. 20 But the wicked ones are like the churning sea because it cannot keep still; its waters toss up grime and mud. 21 There will be no peace, says my God, for the wicked ones.
grace that relents
All of human destiny rests on the fact that our wonderful God cannot keep condemning us. His grace relents because he knows how much we can take. He knows the breath within us would leave us and we would die if we were permanently presented with our own sins and shortcomings. That is why there is hope for us. Our God is in the repair business. He sees the wrong roads we have taken, and he speaks peace and comfort with us, through Christ, as he gently guides us back to the right roads. This is true of those who are nearby, as well as those who are distant.
But God’s grace also has a line which it cannot cross. The wicked ones who refuse to repent will not experience that peace, and will not see the repairs needed for their restoration. Some teach that God will ultimately restore everyone to himself. I wish it were true, but it is not. We can take comfort that our God is a God of grace, who is willing to overlook our sins, and lead us back on the right paths. But we must never forget that unless we take those paths, we will face his permanent judgment.
LORD, we accept your conditions of peace. Help us to follow you back to the safe road.