How much is God willing to forgive?
Mankind takes the soul, which starts out without blemish, and mars it with sin. There have been those who think their sins are so extreme that God would not even think about forgiving them. Sometimes, people get the idea that they can make their lives pure and then God will accept them.
These ideas are false. God loves mankind and is willing to forgive man — if man simply will come to him and obey him (Matthew 11:28-30).
Perhaps one of the best passages of the Bible to illustrate God’s love is found in Isaiah 1:18. In this passage and book, God pleaded with people who are so caught up in sin, it surely would seem they would never be able to be forgiven. God was willing.
Isaiah wrote to a nation of people headed to Assyrian captivity because of their sin. The prophet’s words should have been heeded by the people, but they refused to listen. These people’s sins affected every walk of life. Honesty was a rare gem to be found in the lives of the people. Idolatry was the religion of the day, started by Jeroboam when he set up the golden calves in Dan and Bethel, making priests of the lowest of the people (1 Kings 12:26-33). Ahab introduced the nation to Baal worship, setting up an altar in the house of Baal that he had built in Samaria (1 Kings 16:30-34). King after king continued the path to destruction, despite the prophets of God calling for them to change their ways.
The words in verse 18 are said, by some, to be words that would be used in a court of law. This has some merit, as the accusations made against the people are talked about in the first part of the chapter. Yet, there is another thought seen in this passage, one that should bring hope to all.
It shows the call from God for his people to contemplate their conditions and his offer of pardon. God never had desired to punish his people. If that was his intent, the scheme of redemption would have never been know. His desire has been that men follow him.
These people had been lulled into false security of trusting in ill-gotten riches taken from the others, cheating, stealing, whatever they could do to take advantage of the poor. Leaders both governmental and spiritual could not be trusted. Neighbor stole from neighbor. It was a wicked time in which to live.
The prophet tried to warn them of the coming punishment from God at the hand of Assyria. Other prophets had been sent, but their word also had been spurned. Now, the love that God has for them was plainly seen. His mercy was offered, but they would have to be a part of the solution.
“Come not let us reason together,” God asked them.
Their sins were described as “scarlet” and “red, like crimson.” These colors are used to describe the depth of the nation’s sins — they were stained through and through. To some, it might have seemed as though there was no hope, but God offered them cleansing.
He had the power to change a soul stained by sin into a soul as clean and white as the snow. A complete change could take place if they would listen to the prophets and turn away from their sins and back to God.
This same forgiveness awaits man today. But just as in the days of Isaiah, man must stop and contemplate what God is offering, and then obey his word.