Isaiah 1:18

Though They Are Red Like Crimson

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Please Read Isaiah 1

The passage that we read earlier, Isaiah 1, was written toward the end of Isaiah’s ministry. His ministry had been very eventful, and this chapter serves as something of a summary of it. Yet the summary is more of the spiritual perspective of his ministry then that of the mundane.

Isaiah’s summary begins with the kings who reigned over the course of his ministry, these being Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and the godly Hezekiah. He had witnessed times of great rebellion against God, even to the point of Ahaz offering his own son in the fires of false worship, and to times of seeming revival under Hezekiah.

He had also experienced his country going from the place of prosperity under Uzziah, to the place of almost extinction at the hands of the Assyrian invaders when Hezekiah was king. He watched as the land of Judah was reduced to only Jerusalem, until Jerusalem had become ‘as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city (1:8b).’ It was almost all over for Judah, ‘Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah (1:9).’

Even though writing within the period of Hezekiah’s reign over Judah, at a time after God had delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians in one night, it was still a time when sin had a firm grip on the people. In what is perhaps Isaiah’s final public act of ministry, Isaiah is here seeking to warn the people for one final time to repent, before the next king comes and takes off his head, thereby ending his ministry.

Friends, could this be my final curtain call this morning? Maybe it will be your last? Sinner, this may very well be your final opportunity to hear the words of grace offered to you - what will you do with them?

Isaiah as God’s representative called upon the heavens and the earth to bear witness against the people, for the Lord had ‘nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me (1:2b).’ Even after a great deliverance where 185 000 Assyrian troops were killed in one night by God, sparing Jerusalem from destruction at the hands of the Assyrians, the Lord is still able to say, ‘The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider (1:3).’ Still they do not know their God, still they continue on - ‘Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward (1:4).’

They have been struck in judgment, having received the stripes of God’s wrath and still they have not repented - yet they have persisted in their vain presumptuous attempts to worship God. They still offered their sacrifices, though they lived in rebellion against God. ‘When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trea my courts (1:12)?’ All their ritual was just hypocrisy and vain presumption.

Do you think sinner that God does not know your case? You may fool the people of God and your pastor, but you will not deceive God. He knows presumption and rebellion when He sees it. He sees the heart sinner, and He knows you.

The Lord knows when a person is just going through the motions, when a person is nothing more than a church attender. He knows when a person brings an offering on a Sunday, and then for the rest of the week offers himself to the world and the lusts of the flesh.

Yes, even under Hezekiah this people continued in their rebellion against God, so much so that God said, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah (1:10).’ So wicked in reality were these people, that beneath all the veneer of religion, God could liken them to the wicked who had been in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Yet it was into this very situation that the words of our text were given. 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (1:18).'

Friends, I bring you this very same message this morning. Sure, our country is not in the very same physical state that Judah was in. We have no marauding armies surrounding us, and perhaps the Prime Minister has not offered his son in the fire to an idol - but this country is a spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah in all its wickedness.

There are people, indeed a myriad of people who go to church when their hearts are far from God, trampling His courts. There are those who though professing to be the Israel of God today, those who belong to the professing church of God, that do offer up their children to false gods. Their children are sacrificed daily at the altar of greed and excess, of self-indulgence and fornication, and a host of other sins. There is a double life in so many of the professing church’s greatest ‘Christians,’ and it is the Lord’s longsuffering alone that prevents Him from yet coming and pouring His wrath upon the land.

I speak to you this morning these very words of gracious intent for there is yet time to flee from this spiritual rebellion and go to the living God. Yes, there is yet time to flee to the only refuge for sinners from the wrath of God. Will you heed these words this morning? Your conscience will bear witness against you at the last day that you have heard them, as will the Lord’s people gathered here this morning. Do not harden your hearts, but listen, for the Lord speaks to you this morning through the prophet Isaiah.

Sinner, you think you are not too bad for you have not offended many people with your life, but let me tell you this, you have offended God. Every thought of hatred is a murder committed, every lustful look an act of adultery, and every proud and self-sufficient thought an act of treason against the King of Kings. Yes sinner, He has you in His sights this morning as these words are offered.

The Lord may very well have cast these people off into eternal punishment immediately, as He has the right to do also to you, no questions asked, yet He chose not to do so. He had every right as the Sovereign Creator God and as the One who had raised Israel up from nothingness, to simply cast them away, but He would not do so.

Do you realise that today you stand on the precipice of eternity, and that awaiting you out there is the place of everlasting punishment? You do, then why do you continue to rebel against the only one who can deliver you from it? Yet the Almighty has not yet issued the warrant for you to be taken into eternity and into the beginnings of your sentence.

Instead He comes to these people, as to you sinner, with still another offer of grace, an offer that they truly did not deserve. He says to them, ‘come now.’ There is the sense of command in this invitation, for the Lord has issued it and has called upon them to appear before Him. He is the Sovereign Lord after all, yet there is still the touch of grace in this invitation, ‘Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD (Is 1:18a).’

‘Yes I am the Sovereign Almighty God, but come now, let us get together and talk about this, lets see if we can nut this thing out.’ What do you see in these words? Do you see a spirit of compromise in God, as if he had said, ‘well I tried to get these people the way I wanted them to be, but I failed. Now I will have to compromise principle and get them to follow me at some lower standard.’ Do you see that? No, you do not see that at all!

This is not God offering the possibility of negotiations for the terms of peace with Him, but this is God offering the opportunity for the people to recognize that what God has said about them is true, and that the way of grace is open before them. It is God saying, ‘look, it’s not too late, listen to what I’ve said, consider it with Me, and recognize that My offer of grace is genuine to you and able to deliver you. I’m not yet going to punish you, there is still time for accepting My terms of peace.’

Sinner, the offer of God to you today is also this. There is still time to hear and respond to the terms of peace given by God. Hear what God has said in His Word concerning your true state. Consider carefully the truth of God’s Word and you will discover it so, that you stand on the very edge of eternity, about to topple into the pit of everlasting destruction for a life of wickedness and rebellion against God.

Please, don’t just dismiss the Lord’s offer of a dialogue here, for this may be your final opportunity. Consider the argument of the Lord, give ear to His assessment of your case, and consider the evidences arrayed against you and see if they are not true.

You will find that every word is truth, and you will find yourself in the most imminent danger. What can be done for your case? Can there be any hope for one who has discovered that he/she has ‘no hope in this world?’ Then go and speak with God. Hear what He has to say. Consider the Lord’s terms of grace and peace, and discover that these too are genuine words, that the salvation that God gives is to the uttermost and for all that come to Him by faith in Christ.

For a Judah gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, for a professor of Christianity gone the way of the presumptuous hypocrite, and for the blatant rebel gone the way of this wicked world, there is a genuine offer of grace to all who will hear it and take it. Sinner, do not leave this place today without first entering into this discussion with God.

There is no place for alternatives, only a reasoning together regarding the appropriate way to flee from your present state, only the discovery of the one way to be delivered, only the hearing of God’s terms. When you consider with God what your current standing is before Him, you will then understand what your true state is before God, and you will want to hear the way of escape and to flee that very way.

‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (1:18b,c),’ - they can be washed clean!

These people of Judah thought they were so OK. They assessed themselves on the basis of what their neighbours were like and presumed they could stand before God. They prided themselves on their possession of the various Laws and rituals of the true God. They looked around about them and concluded that God could not possibly judge them.

They would not have that they were condemned and that the judgment of God was awaiting them, yet it was so. They said they would party on in the face of judgment, for God would not judge them. Yet God said your sins are like scarlet and they are red like crimson, you will be judged! It’s not only how you once were, but how you still are God says.

Sinner, you are in trouble, your sins are like scarlet... they are red like crimson. Will you hear what God says, will you be reasonable and hear what Your Judge is warning you about? What does God say about the way you think, what does God say about your attitude, what does God say about your motives, what does God say about your life - all these are sins that are scarlet, red, and crimson.

You stand before God this day stained with sin, and will you yet continue denying His charge against you? Why will you perish? Why will you not hear Him? God is not yet casting you off forever, He is warning you about your situation, that you are guilty before Him and stained red with sin. Listen to Him, why will you not hear?

‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (1:18b,c).’

Can you not yet hear the reasoning of God with your conscience? He will make your sins go from being red to being snow white, He will remove the stain of crimson so that you may be the colour of the purest wool.

For Judah, this meant that they would again become known as the ‘city of righteousness, the faithful city (1:26c).’ Why, because their sin would be removed, the red washed away, and be replaced by the white of a forgiven state.

Sinner, this can be so for you also. Your red sin can be removed, and you can become the white forgiven state. Sin can be washed away from the memory of God, its guilt and penalty taken away by another. ‘Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool (1:18c - NKJV).’ ‘As far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12a - NKJV),’ is how far He will remove your transgressions from you.

Do you see that this will be so for you sinner? ‘No, my sin is too great,’ someone says. ‘I have been too wicked, I am beyond redemption’ What does the text say to you? ‘Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (1:18c).’ There are no exceptions to that promise, God will forgive and wash away your crimson red sin if you go to Him.

‘But I am not sure that He can do it,’ says another. What, will God say and then be not able to accomplish it? Why will you perish because of a doubt? Go this very day confessing your doubts to God, and you will find that what He has said concerning the forgiveness of sin is true, and you will experience the whitened state for yourself.

But what are the terms of this cleansing? What does God expect you to do sinner? Only what is reasonable, for the terms of God are repentance and faith, and nothing else but repentance and faith. Hear what God says to Judah, ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (1:16,17).’

Judah was to reject its sin and to begin doing what God said it should do. This was a turning from their present evil and wicked ways to the ways of God. There was to be a turning from the current way of living to another way of living, to God’s way of living. In short, they were to return to God, to turn completely away from wickedness and to walk in this other way from that time forward.

This sinner is what God calls upon you to do this very day, to turn from your sin, from your hypocrisy and from your wickedness, and to turn to Him. There is a new way to walk and you are to walk in it. Reject the past life of sin, hate it, and want nothing more to do with it, and determine that from this day forward you will walk God’s way.

‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it(1:19,20).’

To experience the washing away of sin, the cleansing from sin and to have a clean record before God, Judah must return to God and obey Him. But more is involved in repentance then just the turning from external practices and ways of living to God’s way of living. There must also be the inner change, that of the heart, mind and motives.

These external repentances are to find their foundation in the inner man. It is here that repentance finds and takes its roots. Gone is the self-reliance and self-satisfaction of the wicked. They must find their rest in God. They must trust Him, forsaking the ways of the nations around about them and hold onto God alone by faith. He is their God, and they must content themselves with him and His ways from the heart. They must rest in His forgiveness, being satisfied with Him and what He has said.

There must be the turning of the sinner in Judah to the God of Judah, from the very seat of what man is. At his very center he must reject all alliances and reliance's, forsaking all else and trusting in His God alone. ‘Nothing can save me but the God of Israel, Him will I entrust myself to completely.’

Sinner, do you want your sin removed? Then you must also cast off the ways of the world and turn to God and His ways. You need to trust Him, and to live the way of life He calls on you to live. Cast all else off and entrust yourself to God alone, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be not satisfied with all those self-reliance's of the wicked, for these will all fail, whether they be religion, position, riches, merits, or whatever they might be. All these will prove to be vanity, but 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trustrth in thee.(Is 26:3).'

Go to Him sinner; if you would have life, go to Him.

‘Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (1:18).’

Go to him sinner, go this very day for forgiveness of sin, Amen.



UPDATED: 19 April 2014


Sermons - Isaiah

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