The prophet Isaiah implements extraordinary vocabulary and imagery in his book. Not only did he implore these two useful tactics, but his content was also top-notch. The melding of these two attributes set forth an incredible asset for the church; one with both past significance, and future significance. I’m always impressed by the authors of scripture, who were providentially used by God through the Holy Spirit to divinely write, with their ability to point to present (to them) occasions and show the foresight of how Jesus is the fulfillment of all things, both now and in the coming ages.
This divinely anointed attribute is shown in the first chapter of Isaiah, primarily in verses 12 through 20. Isaiah, speaking of those primarily in Judah, describes their sinful ways (v.12-15). This book was written in 740-700BC far before our time, or even Jesus’ for that matter, yet their sin was catastrophic. They’ve abandoned pure worship for the sake of being purified by giving something other than Jesus’ (v. 13). To which God says “stop it” and that “the incense is an abomination.” They’ve overvalued the keeping of “holy days” to which the Lord says, “my soul hates” this and “they’ve become a burden to me”.
God’s righteous anger is surely on display with His people. He tells them, “I will hide my eyes from you” and “I will not listen” because of the blood on His peoples hands (v. 15). The Lord asks His people to repent, to “wash” themselves of their sin (v. 16). Further pleading (although pleading might not be appropriate) with them He asks them to stop doing evil, and encourages them to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widows case (v. 17).
Passages like these don’t necessarily give me hope. Rather, they paint a picture of how wicked men can be; how wicked I can be; how damnable my sin is, and that the weight of my sin is not equal to the substance, person or emotion that I may run to, but that it’s only weighed by whom I have run from. That all sin is equal and justifiably punishable by eternal separation from a Holy God. But…and I love this, don’t miss where redemption comes in; where Jesus can come in and transform a hopeless and dire situation, to a hope-filled outcome. No one is beyond salvation. No one is beyond saving. Jesus came and died so that ALL may know and have salvation in His name. Isaiah knew that even though He’d never met Him. He even wrote so that we may know this profound truth.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (v. 18). That even in the midst of our sin (Romans 5:8), the God of all creation bids us come; come and be made clean. The Gospel is: Jesus, God in flesh, laid down His life, His perfect sinless life, to make sinful man right with God, defeated death and rose from the grave on the third day. In Christ there is joy, hope, and perfect peace. Isaiah paints it this way, “if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” but if you don’t “if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword…”
Though your sin, and Satan’s scorn renders you helpless, Jesus and His Gospel bids you come and be made white as snow. It can happen. He is faithful.