The extravagance of God’s grace.
Isaiah 40:12-14, 18-26
Ephesians 1:3-7, 2:2-10.
The young prophet who wrote Isaiah 6 finds himself in the temple, a bit downcast and concerned. He went to the right place! Here, he had an amazing vision. God met him there, an archangel touched his lips and therefore, he had a special insight into the divine plan of God. It’s the gospel of Isaiah. Isaiah means ‘the Lord saves.’
In Isaiah 40 a question is asked of God. We see, in verse 22, ‘He sits above the circle of the earth.’ This was written 700 years before it was discovered the earth was round!
In Ephesians the apostle Paul had a personal encounter with God, as did Isaiah. His life was changed and he became an amazing missionary. His zeal for persecuting the church now changed to a zeal for the church. There are no theories here. In Ephesians Paul, now late in life, has grasped the grandeur of grace. It includes you in this. Ephesians 1:3-7, 2:2-10.
Isaiah straight away starts to tell us things that will happen in the future. In Isaiah chapter 6 we learn of the time frame of this writing. It was the year of King Uzziah’s death. He reigned from 792-740, 740 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah chapter 7 tells us about Immanuel. In chapter 9 we read of the Christmas story, telling us of the story of the coming Lord Jesus. In chapter 53 we read the amazing description of the Crucifixion – 700 years before crucifixion was invented! It tells us there’s going to be a Saviour, who will save both Jews and Gentiles.
In Isaiah 55 we read, ‘Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.’ (Isaiah 55:1-2). What extravagance! Here we read of the extravagance, the conclusion of God’s grace, the wine and bread of life. Come without money, come without price. You could never bring enough money! This is where grace starts – it’s free. Yet this wine and bread are given at such cost. The extravagance of God, given to us.
Paul talks about the glorious grace which has been given to us freely. God’s only Son paid the price. We don’t need to bring anything. The hymn writer, Toplady, writes, ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the Cross I cling.’ You can earn mercy but you can never earn grace.
This brings a value on us; because God has lavished His grace on us, we have a new value. How can we still keep our value in a world of unclean lips, a murky world? We can’t help be contaminated, crushed. But our value hasn’t changed. The Prodigal son is a story of a loving father, not a wayward son. That son did the most awful things, yet he went home to his father to be a hired servant. His father ran to meet him and grasp him. The son asked to be a hired servant. If the father had done that, it would have been mercy. Yet the father gave him extravagant grace.
Our value calls us into Christian service, to use our value for the Lord (Romans 12). We have to give our service to the Lord freely. Jesus was sold by Judas for thirty pieces of silver. The Jews just couldn’t ‘get’ Jesus as Messiah. Jesus valued women. To the Jews, women were valueless. The price paid for Jesus was the value of a woman.
In the New Testament we live in times of God’s extravagant grace. In Romans 12 we become the body of the church.
There is a story of a young boy who kicked his football, which broke a pane of glass in a greenhouse. Justice was given when the boy was ground in his room for two hours. It was a sunny afternoon, so after one hour the boy’s father let him back out to play in the sunshine. That was mercy. Then an ice-cream van came along on this warm afternoon. The father bought the boy an ice-cream. He didn’t deserve it. That was grace.
Paul says bring your lives as a living sacrifice – your life as a mother, your work life, your tractor driving life. Romans 5:1-2 shows the almost incomprehensible grace of God, ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God’.