GOD’S PROMISE to FORGIVE – Intro Lesson 1 – Sept. 20 – 27

None of us like to listen to “prophets of doom and gloom”, do we?  Some people focus on the miseries of the past, the dark side of the present and the hopelessness of the future.  Whether it is around your dinner table, during a work break, or simply as you expose yourself to the daily news and various commentators, we can too quickly be immersed in a conversation that focuses on the tragedies, crime, and seemingly pointless events that are taking place not only worldwide, but right here in our own country.  It is easy to have a sense of helplessness and sometimes this leads to a feeling of real despair and sadness.  Our minds can easily be distracted by worries about the future and what is going to be the outcome of the disintegration of morality of all kinds. There is an immense difference between the “soothsayers” of our time, however, and the people in the Bible who were chosen by God to proclaim the reality of impending judgment for all those who refuse to acknowledge Him.

While one might think that the prophets in the Old Testament had a very gloomy and negative message for the Israelites and the various kings of Israel and Judah, there is actually an amazing amount of hope and optimism tucked in-between the realities of the coming judgment.  God told Isaiah through visions and words about the crisis and punishment that will take place for that nation’s ongoing rebellion and sinfulness, but in reading the book of Isaiah, you will also discover the repeated offer of mercy and forgiveness.  Even in chapter 1 there is a clear description of why a holy and just God cannot ignore the sinfulness and obstinance of the people, but that they always had the option of turning from their wicked ways and willingly returning to God.  There is also the promise that someday, God will restore His city Zion (Jerusalem) to be a place of righteousness and purity.

Isn’t it interesting that Isaiah and the Psalms are the most quoted books in the New Testament?  Discovering that the warnings are so pertinent to the times in which we live is a big “wake up call”.  Would you agree, however, that realizing God’s promises for forgiveness, restoration and an eternal destiny are also true for us today is just the reassurance that we need to find hope and purpose in today’s world?

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