Contention Ended and Grace Reigning
Isaiah 57:16-18
For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.…

The Lord is holding high soliloquy. He allows His prophet to stand where he can hear the sacred soliloquy of the great Supreme; and he does hear it, and then under the dictate of the Divine Spirit he records it in the inspired book, where it remains to this day for our instruction.

I. GOD CONTENDS WITH MEN, AND THE DIVINE CONTENTION IS WELL DESERVED ON THEIR PART. He says, "I will not contend for ever," in which it is implied that He does contend sometimes. Smiting comes before saving.

1. I would speak of this to the seeking sinner. Anything is better than the horrible calm of the dead sea of spiritual indifference. The Lord's design in contending with you is to convince you of your sin. The next reason for the Lord's contending with you will begin to operate when the first purpose has been accomplished. You will, in your self-abasement, be driven to look to the grace of God. It is hard to part a man from his sin, it is still harder to divorce him from his self-righteousness: and this is a part of the Lord's contention with awakened souls. Moreover, no one can be surprised that the Lord lets forth a measure of His wrath upon seeking sinners when we see how they behave, even while they are seeking. We have known them red hot one day and icy cold another, and albeit that they long for mercy, you will see them at certain seasons acting as if they despised it.

2. But now I turn to the people of God. Sometimes our Lord hath a contention with us. This is not at all wonderful when we consider how unworthily we often live towards His sacred name; indeed, "it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed." His contention with us will show itself occasionally in adverse providences. Even more severe are His blows when it comes to be a controversy carried on by His Spirit within the mind.

II. THIS DIVINE CONTENTION WILL COME TO AN END WITH THE CONTRITE, "I will not contend for ever," etc. The question arises: When may we expect that this promise will be fulfilled? Notice the verse which precedes the text, for that assures us that God hath no controversy with the humble and the contrite. This is self-evident, for He declares Chat with such He will dwell, and the God of grace will not dwell in a house that is full of contention. He contends where He does not abide, but where He abides there is peace. It is wonderful how the pity of God has in some cases been excited, even by a temporary repentance. When wicked Ahab rent his clothes and put sackcloth upon himself, the Lord took note of it and said, "Seest thou how Ahab humbled himself before Me? Because he humbled himself before Me I will not bring the evil in his days." When the Ninevites repented, though probably there was very little that was spiritual about their humbling, the Lord turned from His fierce anger and there was a reprieve for the wicked city. He has given a promise of grace which runs thus, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up." He cannot spurn those who submit themselves before Him, for it is written, "Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly." Condescension to the lowly is His glory, as the blessed Virgin sang of old, and as many fainting ones may sing at this moment if they will: "He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree: He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich He hath sent empty away." Lowly roofs attract the Deity. He comes to those who are broken in heart, and when He comes the contention is over. And what else doth the Lord promise to do? He says He will dwell with the humble, and He adds that He will revive them.

III. GOD HIMSELF FINDS REASONS FOR ENDING THE CONTENTION. We could not have found any, for in ourselves there is much cause for the Lord's anger, but none for His grace.

1. The first is found in human weakness, and its inability to bear the Divine contention.

2. His second reason is, to my mind, even more extraordinary. It is given in the next verse: "For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. This argument is founded on the inoperativeness of the Divine contention upon the heart which is to be won. If wrath will not humble us the Lord may yet in His grace try what love can do. He will love us to a better mind.

IV. God Himself having found a reason why He should cease from contention, nay, two reasons,. HE HIMSELF INVENTS AND PROPOSES ANOTHER METHOD FOR ENDING HIS CONTENTIONS and making us right with Himself.

1. It is an astonishing method. "I have seen his ways, and will heal him."

2. It is an effectual method. "I will heal him," — not "I will smite him again," but "I will treat his sin as if it were a disease." It is true that sin is much more than a disease, and God might treat us altogether and only from its criminal side, but still it is a disease, and therefore He resolves to treat it as such.

3. It is a tender way. "I will lead him also."

4. Observe, how complete is this method. As if all that went before were not enough, it is added, "I will restore comforts unto him and to his mourners." He will take away the sorrow as well as the sin, the killing grief as well as the killing disease.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

WEB: For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always angry; for the spirit would faint before me, and the souls who I have made.

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