Isaiah 1:18-20 – Stained Yet Saved

Read Isaiah 1:18-20

We are going to learn a lot as we journey through Isaiah together. These short verses today are sandwiched between the words of judgment proclaimed by the Lord. This image of being white as snow or wool has always been powerful for me. As I sit here, now living in Mexico, it strikes me it has been a long time since I have seen snow. Most of my Mexican friends have never even seen snow in person, so the power of this verse may not be fully grasped.

I can still vividly remember white knuckle driving on country roads in Iowa during my commute in the winter. This Iowa girl does not miss snow one little bit! But when it comes to this verse, I am taken back to a time when I could be nestled safely inside a warm house, looking out at the vast fields of white, glistening in the sun. That snow was so white it almost hurt your eyes to look at its gleaming. That is the image I think of when I imagine my sins being cleansed by a loving God.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” For the audience first hearing God’s promise, they understood the difficulty, or should I say impossibility, of getting a bright red stain out of fabric. This statement carried a lot of power. What a promise and declaration from God! To me, this is like saying it doesn’t matter how big our sins are, God can wash us clean.  To make something clean, you must clean it with something clean. We can never be clean enough to clean up our own sinfulness. Only Jesus is spotless and able to clean up our sinfulness.

We should never put limits on God and what he is capable of accomplishing. All we must do is look around at creation. The intricacies of nature astound me. The cells in our bodies alone are enough to leave me speechless. If God says he can forgive our sins, we can trust that to be true.

“If you will only obey me…” says God. It sounds almost seems like a plea. God knows we are like willful children. We tend to think we can make it on our own. That is, until we fail. Then we cry out for help. Why is that? Why don’t we trust and obey because we know it is the right thing to do? God is standing by ready to provide for us and ready to forgive us.

I think it comes down to the fact we need to be better receivers of God’s grace. Is it because we don’t feel worthy? Or is it because we don’t understand grace in the first place? God desires us to have this. It isn’t something we have earned or even deserve, quite frankly. I saw this on a colleague’s blog and loved it. “Grace is a commodity of unlimited quantity and is free for the asking, and unlike everything in this world, there is no fine print.” That’s right! God gives it freely with no strings attached. How are you responding to God’s grace?

What are the consequences if we don’t take God up on his blessing of grace and forgiveness? “But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Now that’s a wake-up call! If there was any question whether Isaiah was just making this up, God puts an exclamation point on the end of this warning. These words are truly from God. We can trust them, too.

Take some time today to let God’s promise of grace and forgiveness wash over you.

Let’s pray … I am overcome with gratitude for your offer. I trust that the stain of my sins has been washed clean. Help me do a better job of trusting and obeying. Keep my heart steadfast and free of distraction. Thank you for your goodness and mercy all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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