By Michael E. Brooks
“I was sought by those who did not ask for me; I was 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” (Isaiah 65:1).
Many, if not most, missionaries can tell of incidents where they were asked to go and teach the Gospel to people whom they did not know, and in places they had no plans to visit.
As much as we enjoy and appreciate such requests, they may be very hard to grant because of the tight schedules with which most of us work, not to mention our limited budgets. One brother has visited me in Katmandu, Nepal numerous times, asking me to visit his home area; thus far I have not been able to do so. Perhaps God will enable me to visit him in the future.
The apostle Paul knew this problem. For a long time he had desired to visit Christians in Rome and had made appropriate plans, but had been hindered each time (Romans 1:11-13).
Such obstacles did not prevent him from continuing to make the effort, however (verse 15).
Surprisingly, even God the Father expresses a similar experience. Isaiah says that God was found by those who did not search for him, and revealed himself to those whom he had not yet adopted. Isaiah’s words have at least two major applications which remain valid for us today.
First, there is the assurance that God’s blessings are available universally, to all who will trust him and obey his will. He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10: 34-35).
Knowledge of God is not limited to those of a particular race, nationality, social / economic class, or education. All may know him. All may follow him and receive his promises (Romans 10:13).
It is precisely this universal availability which is the focus of the Gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
No one is excluded. No one is exempt. All may be saved who will believe in Jesus and follow him.
Isaiah’s second application is equally important. God’s promises and blessings are conditional.
In succeeding verses of Isaiah 65 the prophet describes God’s efforts to reach “a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts” (verse 2). This people — Israel — provoked God to anger (verse 3), rejected God’s mercy (verse 5), and doomed themselves to destruction (verses 9-12).
We today must remember that former privileges or status do not guarantee us future blessings. Israel had been God’s chosen people. Many former generations had served him faithfully.
David and other kings were righteous and diligent to glorify God. But others forsook him and betrayed his love and mercy. These were punished, and their blessings were removed. The same consequences await those who are not faithful to God today (Hebrews 3:7-11).
God continues to be universally available to all who seek him (Acts 17:27). God’s blessings continue to be reserved for those who believe in him and obey his will (Hebrews 11:6; Matthew 7:21).
By Michael E. Brooks