“No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3 (NIV) Before Nicodemus can get any further Jesus interrupts him, stops him dead in his tracks… “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (3:3). This is an extraordinary statement....
I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices. Isaiah 65:2
The rebellious people described here in verse 2 are different from the people who did not ask for or seek God in verse 1.
We know that because in the New Testament Paul quotes these verses and tells us that they refer to different people: “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Rom. 10:20-21).
So verse 1 is about the Gentile nations, the secular people who did not know God; verse 2 is about Israel, the people to whom God had made himself known.
There are many of us who belong to this second group. Many of us were brought up with religion. For some, this was positive—you look back on what you learned and you’re thankful. For others, religion was a burden—it felt empty and it did not bring you to God.
Notice what God says to religious people who claim to know him: “I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people … a people who provoke me to my face continually” (65:2-3).
He’s not talking about secular people who don’t know him. He is speaking to the religious people who claim to know him—and he is telling us that religion is a mixed bag. Some religion honors God, but some of it provokes him!
Reflect on your religious upbringing, if any. Would you say that it was more of a positive or would you say it was more of a burden?