“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. ‘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. 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 1:16-20 ESV).
I don’t think of myself as an unreasonable man. While there are a few subjects about which I am less likely to bend, I am generally open to being persuaded. Although, weak arguments will never change my mind.
In Isaiah 1:16-20 God lays out an argument for holiness. He starts with a short list of things He expects of us to make up our side of the deal. Bear in mind that this is from the old covenant, so this is not a to-do list for salvation. It is behavior that ratifies a covenant between God and His people. Salvation is a gift of God to us, purchased by the blood of Jesus and received by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8).
I love that God says, “let us reason together.” I’ve heard non-believers criticize Christians, saying that they “leave their brains at the door.” They assert that faith is unreasonable. Yet in light of so much evidence, even simply from creation itself, I find it more thoughtless to think that there is no God. That God doesn’t expect a bunch of mindless sheep in His flock is evidenced by those four words.
While I stopped playing fantasy football many years ago, I remember the work that had to be done to make a trade. No one wanted to trade away a good player, or perhaps they didn’t want to increase the odds of someone beating them with a player that they traded away. If you could find someone who was reasonable, however, you could make a trade work. You simply had to convince them that the trade, statistically, would be in their best interest.
We are a stubborn people, as were people throughout Biblical history. We demand proof that something is to our benefit. And even then we often fail to hold up our end of the bargain.
Through our faith and willingness to submit to God’s plans for our lives, we are promised certain things. While there are many promises in the Scriptures, there are a few really good ones listed here in Isaiah chapter one.
First, He promises to wash us from our sins. “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Even a fool recognizes that there are consequences for our actions. Whether they accept the reality of a Heaven and a hell, they must admit that bad behavior eventually reaps a negative consequence. So God promises, for His part, to remove the eternal consequence of our sin.
Next, as with all covenants and contracts, the terms are laid out. If the contract is kept, then both sides will receive that which has been promised. If the contract is broken, then, not only will the promises be revoked, but there will be penalties. We see this evidenced with credit accounts.
God said, “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.” This sentence sums it all up.
God has wonderful plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). When He lays out the terms, the choice should be obvious.
It’s only reasonable!
Blessings on your weekend!