“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 (NASB)
Amazing! The God of the universe wants to reason together with us. He doesn’t just issue commands and demand obedience. He’s not oblivious to us up in heaven. He wants to discuss something with us, have a dialogue, a two-way conversation. This is proof that God listens to us – our prayers, our side (or snide) remarks, and our running commentary on life. It’s also proof that we don’t listen to God, for few people talk about their conversations with God the way they relate their conversations with other people.
What’s even more amazing is the topic of the conversation. The heading for this section in the God’s Word Translation is “The Lord Invites Israel to Turn Away from Sin”. Okay, so it’s not so amazing that a holy God wants to talk to us about sin. Rather, what’s amazing is the way He wants to talk about it. God’s not condemning, speaking harshly, or yelling at us the way some parents yell at their children. The holy God of the universe calmly and lovingly invites us to reason together about our sin and turn away from it.
Ever remember being in trouble at home and having absolutely no clue why? “What on earth have I done now?” Israel knew the Ten Commandments and so do we, but nevertheless, God clearly describes what the problem is – how they are not applying the Ten Commandments in everyday life. “Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphans, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15b-17) The problem was the shed blood, the evil deeds, injustice, allowing ruthless people to thrive unchecked, orphans and widows in desperate straits.
Ever remember being in trouble at home, finding out what the problem was, but not having a clue as to why it was an issue? “Why is this such a big deal?” God didn’t leave Israel clueless, and He explains to them and us. God has done so much for us, rearing us and bringing us up as beloved children (v2). Sin weighs us down (v4) and prevents us from enjoying God’s presence (v 15) and the abundant life He has planned for us (John 10:10). God is Holy, sin is not, and sin separates us from our Holy God (v4). Sin brings unpleasant and often times harsh consequences (vv 5-9).
Ever remember being in trouble at home, finding out what the problem was and why, but not having a clue about fixing it and making it right? “How do I make it up to them?” What’s so neat about God is that when He tells Israel (and us), what the problem is, He’s also telling us the solution. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphans, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17).
God isn’t a God who just sets out impossible rules and regulations and leaves us on our own to struggle with trying to keep them. God clearly explains what His expectations are, knowing full well we can’t live up to them, which is why He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and the Holy Spirit to help us with everyday life. When we sin and miss the mark, God invites us to reason with Him and turn away from our sin and back to Him. He clearly shows us what we’ve done, will show us why we’ve done it (if we’re willing to go that deep) and how to repent (turn away 180 degrees).
Are you thinking this is all theology? How about a concrete example?
I was driving on a two lane highway that merged left into one lane. Knowing about the merge, I’m always in the left lane and since I’m conscious of the price of gas, I don’t gun the engine when the light turns green – especially since it’s uphill. As a result, people are always passing me on the right. That morning, two cars had already passed me and I was fine with that. But when I saw the third car get ready to do the same, I had had enough and gunned it so he couldn’t.
God didn’t scold – He simply asked me why I do that. Why do I have such a hard time letting people pass me? It’s a long list. It starts in grammar school where I was made fun of and was always the last one chosen for the school yard games. It continues in high school and college when no one asked me out on a date. Then there was marriage, where we were always behind the Jones’. The divorce tripled the list at least. I am tired of all the injustices in my life and I want to be on top somewhere, somehow, even if it’s only on the highway.
My attitude is not right and if I don’t do something about it now, it will lead to sin. It’s an attitude that will cause pain and hurt to me and to others if allowed to continue. I need to work with God (and perhaps another person) on healing old hurts. For now, I can fix my attitude by yielding to others on the highway, at home, in church, at work. Yielding will turn into service and a deeper, better relationship with the Trinity.
So be daring – the next time the opportunity presents itself, sit down (or drive along) and reason with God.