Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the Bible but as it is with favorite books there are chapters I favor over others. Isaiah 25 and the feast of fat things for all people, the return to Zion with singing in Isaiah 35, the tender speaking of Isaiah 40, “comfort, comfort my people” are all to be preferred over “I will not keep silent, but I will repay.” But in the same way that the Gospel is meaningless without the Law and the Law is hopeless without the Gospel so God is not wholly God without being just and the one who justifies. (Romans 3:26) Which is to say while God is merciful there is a cost associated with continually grieving God and even though sin is not counted against us there are consequences that cannot be avoided. Isaiah 65 reveals a dimension of the incarnation, God in the flesh, which is not as comforting as the babe of Bethlehem. No. This is God as grieving parent, God as jilted lover; God provoked on purpose continually by those God seeks to save. It is also an image of God who has been pushed to the point of breaking, whose fierce anger has been aroused by continual mocking and disregard. But while it is true that we are a rebellious people who walk in a way that is not good, following our own devices I don’t think fear motivates one to love the God who calls to us, “Here I am, here I am.” However if I am the parent of a rebellious child who provokes continually I might sympathize with God’s patience being exhausted. If I have loved another with my whole heart only to be lied to, cheated on, made to be a fool of, then I might sympathize with God’s righteous anger. And when I sympathize with God’s anger and pain and profound sadness by confessing that I am the rebellious child and the unfaithful spouse then I might just be the wine within the cluster and a blessing to the God that by my sin I provoke. I hope so. And believe me, so does God.