Last but not least in our themes, we have compassion and forgiveness—or, in a word, mercy. These ideas comprise the biggest and probably most important theme in Isaiah (along with justice and judgment). Mercy, in a sense, is what it's all building up to. It's the moment of relief that follows the constant conflict and violence and tension (whew). God might treat his people with wrath to correct them from their ways, but at the end of the day (Isaiah says), he ultimately loves them.
And, apparently, this isn't just a vague sort of love, like the way someone would say "I love Cheetos" or "I love The Sopranos." It's closely compared to human forms of love, indicating how intense and passionate it's really supposed to be. God always goes at whatever he's doing—be it destroying cities or loving everyone—as hard as he possibly can, and in a big way. And—aside from a brief reminder of what'll happen to the continually disobedient people—that's basically how Isaiah ends: with the reign of endless, universal love. It turns out God and Isaiah were both really hippies, in the end, despite earlier death-metal tendencies. Those were just for a historical minute or two, but the rest of eternity is one long jam session to "All You Need is Love."
Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness
Is God's mercy greater than his justice in Isaiah? Or is he more just than merciful? Why do you think so?
Do the people of Israel and Judah need to be worthy of God's mercy in order to receive it? Or is mercy given without worrying about those kinds of things (because wouldn't it just be justice if you deserved it)?
How exactly does God love his people? Is it like a father loves a daughter, or how a husband loves a wife? What metaphors fit?
Are their some sins that are unforgivable? Who doesn't, in the end, get forgiven and why?