We learn in chapter one of Isaiah that the children of Israel had forsaken the Lord. They had turned away from Him and have backslided. Their sacrifices were useless to God and He refused to hear their prayers because their hands were full of blood.
Instead of offering futile sacrifices or prayers that God would resue to listen to, God called them to wash themselves, make themselves clean. He instructed them to:
- Wash yourselves and be clean!
- Get your sins out of my sight.
- Give up your evil ways.
- Learn to do good.
- Seek justice.
- Help the oppressed.
- Defend the cause of orphans.
- Fight for the rights of widows.
If the people repented and turned back to God, He promised that their sins would be forgiven–though they were like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Imagine that! God told them what would happen if they obeyed–they would eat the good of the land. However, if they disobeyed or rebelled, they would be devoured by the sword.
God said that He would thoroughly purge away their dross–refine them. Dross means impurities separated from metals. God wanted to separate the impurities from His people. He wanted to purge them of their impurities–wipe the slate clean, so to speak, and start over. He said Zion will be redeemed with justice and those who were penitent with righteousness. However, those who continued to transgress and sin would be destroyed. Those who did not turn back to the Lord–those who forsook Him would be consumed.
So not only did God point out to Israel what they were doing that was wrong in His sight, He told them how they could fix things. He pointed out what they were doing and instructed them on what they ought to do. God calls us on our sins and then gives us a chance to do what is right before He passes judgment. Sometimes judgment is averted as in the case of Nineveh who repented when Jonah spoke to the people on God’s behalf.
The words which stood out for me were, “Unless the Lord of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9). The prophet Jeremiah said, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed because His compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). God always has a remnant. There is always hope.
“For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:31-33).
I remember when I read, “Come now, and let us reason together,” it made me sad. God was reaching out to His people, urging them to settle things between Him and them. He wanted to bless them. He wanted to give them good gifts and the best. He wanted to shower them with love. All He asked was for them to stop sinning, to forsake evil and turn back to Him. I was reading the pleas of a loving Father to His wayward child. Israel was breaking God’s heart but at the same time, I could imagine God poised, just ready to forgive them if they would just repent and turn from their wicked ways. As I read this I was moved by the magnitude of God’s love and grace. He longed to wash away the people’s sins and cover them in His righteousness.
Is God calling you to repentance? Don’t delay. Is God is appealing to you today? Don’t turn your back on Him. Stop sinning and seek His forgiveness which He is aching to offer you. Allow Him to wash away the stench of your sins.