“Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
Five times in the Book of Isaiah you will find the phrase, “his hand is stretched out still.” This phrase is not mentioned when God is happy towards His people, but this phrase is mentioned when God is angry towards His people. God’s hand was not stretched out when His people were living holy lives; rather, His hand was stretched out for His people to return while they were living sinful lives. The mercy of God is such that no matter how deep a person lives in sin, though He is angry towards them, He is always reaching out to bring them back to Him. Several lessons are taught about the mercy and longsuffering of God in this verse.
First, in anger, God still reaches out with the hope that you will return. It is a wonderful thing that God never loses hope in the believer. God’s merciful hope in anger can be seen when He calls Jonah to preach to Nineveh, even though He was about to destroy this city. God’s merciful hope in anger can be seen when He was willing not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if they had ten righteous people. My friend, God never loses hope that you will come back to Him.
Second, God never throws anyone away. God’s mercy longs for His people to come back to Him no matter how much sin they have done. God was angry with His people, but He wouldn’t throw them away. It doesn’t matter if the Pharisees have given you a death sentence because of your sin; God is still merciful to bring you back and use you again.
Third, God’s anger will cease the moment you reach out to His stretched out hand. God was angry, but He wanted Israel to come back. God stretched out His hand so that His anger could cease. God may be angry with you, but repentance is the key to assuage His anger. Always understand that God’s anger is not about you, but it is about the sin you have allowed in your life. God would much rather be pleased with you than to be angry with you because of sin.
Fourth, God is still near in anger. The greatest comfort a believer can have is to know that, though He is angry with you, He is still near you. As long as God is near you, there is a confidence that He still loves you. Never doubt the love of God even though He may be angry with you. God’s anger does not quench His love for you; rather, His anger is a result of His love for you because sin to come between you and God.
Fifth, if you want to return to God, all you must do is reach out to Him. Always remember that no matter how low sin has taken you, God’s hand is there to pull you out if you will just reach out and grab His stretched out hand. God’s hand is never too short to reach the depths to where sin has taken you.
Let me take this truth to one other area. If God is willing to restore those with whom He is angry, shouldn’t you be merciful to those whom sin has soiled? God is a holy and righteous God, and you are a sinful human; yet, the holy and righteous God is willing to take back the one who has gone into sin. It is wicked for a believer to cast away someone who has fallen because they think they are better than the fallen when our righteous God is willing to take them back. Always copy God’s desire towards the fallen; have your hand stretched out to help them come back to God.