Isaiah 65:1-3 (ESV)
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that was not called by my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and making offerings on bricks;
Isaiah 65 is divided into two sections. Verses 1-16 speak judgment and justice. Verses 17-25 speak grace and peace. The first words of the chapter give an amazing context. “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me” (Is 65:1). God is not hiding. He is not hard to find. Yet we prefer to create gods in our own image, and our own creation rather than seeking the God who desires to be sought after. We prefer worship by our design rather than asking after a God who is ready to be found. God has only hidden himself from those who do not care to find him. In Jeremiah 29:13 God says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” The problem is not that God is hidden, but that people do not care to find him.
There are consequences to such an attitude. “But you who forsake the LORD…I will destine you to the sword” (Is 65:11-12). By contrast, those who serve the Lord God will eat, and drink, and “sing for gladness of heart” (Is 65:14). In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Moses reminded a new generation of Israelis of the covenant God had made with them,
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
Yet by the time we get to Isaiah they have done the very thing Moses warned them about. In fact, it didn’t take them that long. By the time we get to the book of the Judges they are already doing what Moses warned them against. While all mankind is not under that same covenant, there is a sense in which the same choice lies before each of us. God sets before us a blessing and a curse. The blessing is dependent on seeking a God who desires to be found. The curse is the consequence of choosing our own gods.
The good news is that there is coming a day when
he who blesses himself in the land
shall bless himself by the God of truth,
and he who takes an oath in the land
shall swear by the God of truth;
because the former troubles are forgotten
and are hidden from my eyes (Is 65:16).
There is coming a day when God will “create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Is 65:17). There is coming a day when God will not need to be sought after or asked for. God will be near, and he promises that “before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Is 65:24). “‘They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,’ says the LORD” (Is 65:25). What a day that will be!
In the meantime, I do not want to be one who blames God for not being able to find him. I do not want to be one who looks around in a cursory manner and says, “Where are you God? I can’t find you,” and then goes on his/her way thinking that it is God’s fault. We argue that if he is real, he has made it too hard to find him. Such is not the case. He is always found by those who want to find him. Finding God is not a command. It is an invitation. If we seek him, we will find him, for he wishes to be found.
Remember the motel advertisement, “We’ll keep the light on for you”? He is the light and it is always on. Further, if we are believers, he has placed us in the world as lights pointing to a God who wishes to be found. I do not want to be one who makes excuses for not finding God. Neither do I want to be one who screens the light from those who are seeking. One never knows who is watching. So, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16).