God will forgive my sins,” quipped Heinrich Heine on his deathbed. “It’s his job.” How different are the viewpoints of Isaiah, Paul and Luke! They note an ongoing theological tension between the assurance of God’s kindness and the call to immediate repentance. Yes, God is merciful, not punishing as we deserve, not automatically correlating our misdeeds with disasters. But there is no room for complacency: if we think we’re standing, we should watch that we do not fall.
Isaiah announces God’s gracious invitation to anyone who thirsts: “Come to the waters!” There’s no admission charge. Imagine a feast where the poor receive special invitations! Blues singer Esther Mae Scott reworked a Beatles’s song into gospel when she sang, “God don’t care too much for money and money can’t buy his love.”