“Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’”
There is a finality in these verses, an assertion of what will be. God is king, and all who live will one day recognize that truth and will act accordingly by bowing the knee. Very strong words.
But God does not want it to come by force. Indeed, he takes no delight in the death of anyone. God does not want rebellion to continue, but instead desires that all would recognize his lordship freely. In other words, he seeks repentance. And the good news is, he is offering a full pardon.
Paul applies these verses in Isaiah to Jesus in Philippians 2:11. He speaks of the exaltation of Jesus that resulted from his humble faithfulness. Jesus made himself nothing in obedience to the Father, and thus God exalted him to his right hand. And now it is to Jesus that the world will bow.
But it is also through Jesus that the world comes back to God. Jesus is the offer of pardon to those who would return, who give up their autonomy and recognize the rightful rule of God.
The Bible teaches us that times of suffering are actually meant to make us do just that. We are meant to reflect on the trouble and pain that flows from our own rule—from our rejection of God’s rule—and to turn and ask him if he would again be our king. The rule of God is good news because it brings justice and peace and wholeness and well-being.
But if we will not turn freely, what choice does God have but to establish his right by force? What option do we leave him if we are unwilling to submit again to his law, to his rule?
Instead, pray that our city would repent, that we would turn collectively back to God. Pray that this would not be in lip-service only, and that it would not simply be a flash-in-the-pan. Instead, pray that it would be a true heart transformation. Indeed, not just our city, but “all the ends of the earth!”
Father, forgive us our sins and drive us to a true repentance. We long to see this city, this nation, indeed, all the earth turn again to you. For you are not merely the rightful king, but you are also a just and good king who loves and provides for his subjects. Be patient with us, Lord, and do not lead us into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Have mercy on your people, Lord.
In Christ the King’s name,