Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18
This verse is part of a vision God had given to Isaiah. “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” Isaiah 1:1. God is revealing to Isaiah the wickedness and ultimately what He wants of Judah. He starts off by saying Judah does not know Him. “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:3. After all the time He spent with them, they still do not understand. They had become a sinful nation and had abandoned Him (v4). They were a rebellious people. However, there was a remnant. “Unless the LORD of hosts Had left us a few survivors, We would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.” Isaiah 1:9. In other words, God’s grace toward Israel, and specifically Judah, prevented Him from destroying all of Judah as He did Sodom and Gomorrah. Paul in his letter to the Roman addresses this issue to the Jews in His time. “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,” Romans 9:27. And again, “And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” Romans 9:29. Then, in the verse 10 the prophet intonates that spiritually they were as Sodom and Gomorrah. “Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!” Isaiah 1:10
He then proceeds to rebuke them regarding their sacrifices, offerings and their keeping of the feasts. He no longer delights in them because they are vain and mean nothing. They have become nothing but rituals and habits. He tells them to no longer bring them to Him. But then goes further regarding prayer. “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:15.
After stating what He does not want, God tells Isaiah to declare to Judah what He does want. “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,” Isaiah 1:16. First He tells them to wash themselves, clean their hands and hearts. Cease doing evil. Next He tells them to do good. “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17. These are probably some of the good they were neglecting.
After pointing out wrongs they did, and the good they did not do, He offers grace to them in our focus verse. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18. God tells them if they will cleanse themselves, remove and cease doing evil, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the orphans and protect the widows in their midst, then He will, by grace, remove the stain of sin from them. They will be clean as God desires. However, they must be obedient to Him. For obedience shows their hearts. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 1:19-20.
Israel believed that by following the Law, giving the offerings, and doing the rituals, they were pleasing God. However, this was not the case. Here is what Micah declared to Israel. “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:6-8. Just giving offerings and performing sacrifices and whatever we wrongly believe pleases Him is not enough. We are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. In these things He is pleased.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.