Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Pardon. That’s a word we’ve heard in the news somewhat recently. At the end of each presidential term, the outgoing President has the constitutional right (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) to forgive a person for their crimes. Governors also have similar rights. While sometimes the people who receive the pardons are disputed, we all generally feel this is a good thing. Today, we will look at God’s forgiveness -- all of us unworthy and guilty of many sins.
Israel is about to leave Babylon after being in exile for 70 years. Generations had come and gone, and the new generation needs to hear, perhaps some for the first time, others as a reminder, God's expectations. The wickedness of their ancestors who had led them to Babylon in the first place couldn't continue. For things to change, there had to be repentance. God was near and ready to forgive.
The call to Israel thousands of years ago is still the call today. Is there any doubt that the wickedness and unrighteousness of today are any less? Of course, the good news is that God continues to do what he has always done -- provide forgiveness. Like Israel, if the world truly desires peace and justice, it can only happen with changed hearts. There may be many today who have not heard this message or haven’t heard it in a long time. For changes to happen, people must first know and then act. We merely need to call on God and confess our wrongdoing. God is near, always has been, waiting for us to respond. We only need to call upon him, repent of our sins, and listen to and obey his voice.
Precious and loving Father, thank you for being near and responding to our calls. We acknowledge we've made this world a mess with our wickedness. Please pardon us our sins. Please change our hearts. We desire a righteous world that resembles your heavenly rule. God, we ask you to lead and guide our actions this day and all days to follow. Make us bold in proclaiming your forgiveness. In Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen