Redeemed to Return

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”

Isaiah 44:22

The prophecies of Isaiah often convey the Lord’s displeasure with his people. Because of their persistent rebellion against him, God will finally allow them to reap the sour fruit of their sin. But that’s not the whole story. Through Isaiah, the Lord reveals his persistent mercy. Beyond punishment there is forgiveness and restoration . . . a new start for Israel.

In Isaiah 44:22, God looks to the future when he will sweep away the sins of his people. This is so real to God that he speaks of it in past tense as if it has already happened. Then he adds, “Oh return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Notice the order here. God does not say, “Return to me and then I will redeem you.” Rather, his redemption of Israel comes first. Their returning, their repentance, is a response to God’s gracious initiative.

And so it is in God’s relationship with us. Through Christ, humankind has been redeemed, set free from our bondage to sin and death. But in order to receive the gift of our redemption, we must respond to God’s initiative. We turn away from our sin and turn to God. This is no way earns God’s favor. Rather, it is a response to that favor freely given in Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When did you first “return” to God in response to his redemption through Christ? Do you find that your life consists of many smaller “returnings” as you continue to respond to God’s grace? What motivates you to leave your sin and turn to God afresh?

PRAYER: How I thank you, gracious and merciful God, for taking the initiative to set me free. Through Christ, you have paid the price of my redemption. And this is nothing I have earned. It is a gift from you, a reflection of your love for me.

Yet you don’t compel me to live in relationship with you. Rather, you beckon me to return to you. Your Spirit stirs within me, increasing my longing for you. I hear the good news of the Gospel at your table, and long to have intimate fellowship with you. Help me, Lord, to respond to your merciful redemption, not just once, but each day as I live in relationship with you. Whenever I wander away from you, may I hear your Spirit say, “Oh, return to me.” And may I do just that. Even today. Amen.