“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.” (Is. 1:18-20)
This passage in Is. 1:18 is one of the more famous and utilized passage for the idea of apologetics. However, is that what the text actually mean?
Flowing from the emotive pleas of God for His people to repent and to turn to Him alone, to serve Him not by paying lip service and by outside appearance but by true inward belief manifesting in true godliness (v. 16-17), God in verse 18 continues to pleads with His people to turn to Him. God calls His people to reason with Him, and that although their sins are so many that they are as if they are guilty of shedding blood (as scarlet), Godis still willing to wash the stain of guilt away such that they will become white as snow. This idea is repeated in the comparison of 'red like crimson' with the whiteness of wool. As it can be seen, God is proclaiming that He is willing to forgive His people of their sins, and wash their guilt away. In verses 19 and 20, God is laying before them blessing and curses again, that if they turn back to God in obedience, they would continue to be blessed by God in eating of the good of the land. However, if they refuse to do so and continue on in their rebellion, God promises sure destruction, in fulfilment of the terms of the Mosaic Covenant.
As it can be seen, the phrase 'Come now, let us reason' must be interpreted in light of the overall thrust of the passage. Seen in this light would show that this passage cannot be used as a proof-text for apologetics, especially of the evidentialist type. God is here calling His wayward people to reason with Him, not unbelievers to debate the possibilities of His existance or the truthfulness and authority of Scripture. God is NOT an all-smiling old grandfather asking unbelievers to consider the "overwhelming" probability of His existance, but as the Sovereign Lord, commands all people to repent of their sins and turn to Him unto salvation. This passage therefore says nothing about apologetics. Instead, it is indicative of God pursuing His people and chasing after them to have a relationship with them.
Therefore, what lesson can we take from this? Seeing how God pursues His wayward people, if you are a backslider, I urge you to return back to God. God is not willing that any to perish, but that all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and He does not delight in the death of anyone, so repent and live (Ez. 18:32). Why are you then continuing to refuse and reject God, when God is patiently watiing for you to turn from your sins and will quickly wash your sins away if you just but turn to Him in repentance? Even though your sins may be many, all is not lost, for Jesus came to died on the Cross such that there is no sin committed that God cannot forgive. So sinner, while there is still time, repent and turn to God. O wayward child, turn away from your waywardness, for God has promised andwill not repent, that He will wash your sins, though how many they are and how crimson they have died your garments, such that they would be white as snow.
Yet do not continue to harden your hearts. For Christ's mercies are not always there. God has promised good to you when you repent, but if you persist in your sins, then the judgment and wrath of God will fall upon you for your destructon. For it is written:
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ (Heb. 3:7b-11)
Turn to God while there is still time, while the offer of mercy stands. Do not delay and say that you will turn to Him tomorrow, for how do you know what will happen to you tomorrow?
Prayer: Lord, help us to turn to You in true repentance. Help us O Lord to see Your great love toward us in pursuing us and calling us to You. Help us O Father not to tarry and harden our hearts, or we might perish in our sins. In Jesus' name, Amen.