Apr 11, 2010

Isaiah 1:18-19 - William Styles

Isa. 1:18, 19. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Ordinarily regarded as an appeal to sinners in general, and as teaching that if they will respond to the Divine invitation they will be received and forgive. But,

God’s ancient people are primarily addressed, on the ground of their (national) covenant relationship to Jehovah. God is represented as weary with their hypocrisy and evil; and they are exhorted to “wash and make themselves clean, and to put away the evil of their doings from before His eyes—to cease from evil, to learn to do well, etc. Then follows our exhortation: “Come now, and let us reason, etc.” “If ye be good and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.”

Obviously then, the text appeals to any of members of that guilty nation who might be penitentially conscious of his guilt, and wishful to obtain Divine pardon and favour.

No spiritual application is permissible except there is an analogy between the condition of the persons originally referred to in the passage, and the state of those to whom it is sought to apply it.

The above words can therefore be with propriety applied only to those who feel their guilt through the inwrought work of the Holy Ghost. Such are spiritually reasonable (Luke 15:17), and endowed with power to give heed to divine facts. Thus understood, “the ‘now’ is a note not merely of time but of state. The Lord addresses those who are not what they once were—careless, and unconcerned, but burdened and anxious. To the self-despairing soul, God says, ‘Come now, you are willing to hear of my mercy and of the riches of my grace. I see what your fears and doubts are. Fear not; it is I that have shown you your condition. Come now, My Will will not be too Sovereign or My Mercy too free, or the Priesthood of My Son too perfect, or My Truth too sure for you now.’”—James Wells.

It should be noticed also that the verse does not propose conditions, but states certainties. “Come—let us reason—your sins shall be white,” etc.

The “come,” moreover, is God’s “come,” not a preacher’s—and affords no warrant for one sinner on his own responsibility to exhort another “to take steps to get true religion and be saved.”

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