Isaiah 55:6-9 - Generosity of mercy to all who return. In Sunday’s first reading, the prophet’s hearers are encouraged to seek God and return to Him for mercy and pardon. God’s thoughts and ways are totally different from ours. This truth is illustrated in today’s reading, the parable of laborers in the vineyard.
If God were like the world, he would not take back his enemies and freely pardon them. The world, rather, would seek revenge and treat enemies with hatred. We, by our nature, do not love or seek reconciliation. We hate and kill and never, never forgive. God is so different — thank God for that!
Those who return to the Lord in repentance will receive mercy and pardon. The same thought is echoed in the much loved hymn, “Just as I Am” as the hymn writer reminds us that the Lord will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.
If you ask God for forgiveness, can you be sure that He grants it? What are the qualities to which God responds? With what urgency should you seek Him? This passage presents one of the great assurances in the Bible that God does hear and respond to sincere request for forgiveness.
Seek the Lord urgently. Our seeking must be "while he may be found . . . while He is near." God would not be God if He were no more than a cosmic houseboy to be summoned at our whim. There are moments of time and windows of opportunity when we must seek God. St. Paul insists, "now is the accepted time...now is the day of salvation." -2 Corinthians 6: 2
The assurance of our forgiveness rests in the character of God Himself. To be God, He must stand true to His promise. We can be sure of seeking and finding forgiveness.
God’s pardon and forgiveness is:
Available to all
Abundant and free
Amazing and certain
Keep, we pray O Lord, Your church with Your perpetual mercy. Because without You we cannot but fall, keep us ever by Your help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable.
 Collect for Proper 20, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Image Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut "The Crucifixion" copyright © WELS used with permission for personal and congregational use