Today, Paul addresses a specific sin in the Corinthian church… incest. Lovely.
The problem was… this person’s sin was damaging the church’s witness in Corinth, so for the sake of the gospel, Paul directed the church to “remove him from among you” (vs. 2). But this instruction was not given solely for the good of the church, but also for the good of the sinner. For it was Paul’s hope that the severe discipline would result in a change of heart. So the church was not to excommunicate the member in harsh judgment – but rather in mercy… “so his spirit could be saved in the day of the Lord” (vs. 5).
Many times, I have misunderstood God’s judgment for being unloving. God’s character is unchangeable. He is not only loving – He is love. It is impossible for him to act in a way that is unloving.
Consider today’s reading from Isaiah. These chapters were written less than a year before Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah. Isaiah 30 denounces Israel for looking to Egypt to save them from the mighty Assyrian army. Ironically, Israel made this same mistake years earlier… They looked to Assyria to defend them from other foreign invaders – and now they are being threatened by the same country they trusted in for help years earlier.
At the heart of Judah’s sin was unbelief. Their unbelief in the God of Israel led to impatience. They could not wait on the Lord’s salvation…
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling… (Isaiah 30:15-16)
Isaiah reveals Israel’s true “Helper” in 31:4-5. With the fierceness of a lion and the gentleness of a bird hovering over its nest, He will guard his people.
…the Lord of hosts
will protect Jerusalem;
he will protect and deliver it;
he will spare and rescue it (Isaiah 31:5).
Despite their unbelief, God showed grace to Jerusalem.
And then Isaiah looks farther in history – to the Messiah – where in the beginning of Chapter 32, he describes life under the Messiah’s rule. It will be like “a shelter from the storm” and like “streams of water in a dry place.”
This is the love of the Lord…offering mercy to the sinner, extending grace to an unbelieving people, not only to the people in Isaiah’s day but ultimately to all nations through the life and death of Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God! He is our Help – Let us wait, trust and rest in His salvation!