Reference: Isaiah 54:10
‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Is. 54:10 ESV
From last week’s post: God’s promise enables you to live at peace with Him, and it is rooted in God’s binding himself to that promise.
The kindness and mercy of God
Why? Is God just so bent on being a nice guy, He is willing to keep you no matter what? Doesn’t there have to be at least something contributed on our part, something He has seen within us?
I set this text before you to emphasize the message of assurance. Isaiah’s emphasis here (which is also present throughout the catechism) shows how God seeks you and brings you to Himself. There is the guarantee in the oath God bound Himself to. But even deeper than that, the prophet tells us all of this demonstrates God is a God of grace.
I trust it has been obvious to you that, again, interwoven throughout the message from God is this truth: we clearly deserve God’s wrath, and instead we receive God’s grace.
Specifically, that grace is presented here in two contexts.
Grace leading to knowing peace
The day Adam and Eve sinned, they knew the consequences. When the children of Israel found themselves on the banks of the Euphrates river in Babylon, weeping about what happened, they knew the consequences of sin. God put Adam and Eve out of the garden; He put the unbelieving people out of the land. There was no peace. The peace had been broken.
A lack of peace starkly illuminates problem between you and God; peace means there is no problem. We read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here is the reality of God’s mercy and kindness: the grace of God changes your status to peace. Because God acted out of his grace, you have peace.
Why does God bind Himself to cover for your sins? Because He is a God of grace.
Grace leading to being kept in peace
Okay, so God established peace with His people by grace, and brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey… but eventually they forgot and turned away.
What will keep you from turning away? What will keep us from looking at the message of comfort, saying, “Wow, that’s such a great message,” and ignoring it? How can I be sure I won’t forget and be tempted by what is out there?
Because of promises like this: “My kindness shall not depart from you.” So we have the grace of God by which He brings you to Himself, and we have the grace of God by which He works to keep you.
In the story of Israel, God revealed his salvation by a process. The point is that with the completion of redemption, God does not only call you, He has promised to keep you.
Yes, you need to remain strong in the faith, you need to resist temptation, and you need to go to God in worship, study, and prayer. But your ability to exercise those disciplines is all part of God’s kindness to you, which will not depart. Let me give you one immediate example. In our church, we recently installed elders. God provided, by His kindness, that His church will receive the benefit of shepherds who bring the Chief Shepherd to His people to lead them.
Understand that the emphasis on God’s awesome provision does not negate your responsibility to work hard in obedience and respond well to keep yourself at peace with God.
One of the ways God fulfills his promise, my kindness will not depart, is through providing the church, where He meets with you in worship, and He provides a community of believers to hold one another up. Yes, He warns, exhorts, encourages.
This is the kindness of God which shall not depart.
This is the comfort God has for His people. As we have taken this close detailed look at Heidelberg Q&A 1, I trust you have gained a renewed appreciation for it, and perhaps learned some things anew or even for the first time. I trust it has caused you to stand in awe at how great this redemption truly is, and that leads you to desire even more to praise and worship.
But more importantly, my prayer and my exhortation is that this hasn’t just been an exercise, but that it is truly your faith and your comfort, and that you know the covenant of peace. And knowing that peace, what can be more important, how can anything keep you from experiencing this grace in worship with His people?
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.