The God Who Says, “Let’s Talk”

We took the grand kids back to Lakewood this morning and watched their soccer games. They did well. Caed and Riley play on the same team and Eliana plays on a team with some family friends, so they all enjoy their teams.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  The Lord says, “Come, let us talk about these things. Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be as white as snow. Though your sins are deep red, they can be white like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18 NCV

Often times people view the struggles of their life and the issues they face and just don’t know why it seems “everything is against them” and life is so hard.  That is what the Children of Israel were facing as the prophet Isaiah begins his prophetic ministry.

Notice how the decline of their spiritual condition is described. Israel is a nation of sin, a people loaded down with guilt, a group of children doing evil, children who are full of evil. They have left the Lord; they hate God, the Holy One of Israel,  and have turned away from him as if he were a stranger.There is no healthy spot from the bottom of your foot to the top of your head…Your land is ruined; your cities have been burned with fire.” (Isa. 1:4,6,7)

Yet there are some who did not believe their condition was that bad. After all they still sacrificed on the altar, and burned incense; they still went through the motions. But the insincerity of their actions and the rebellion of their hearts was clear to the Lord. The Lord tells them, Don’t continue bringing me worthless sacrifices! I hate the incense you burn. I can’t stand your New Moons, Sabbaths, and other feast days; I can’t stand the evil you do in your holy meetings.” (Isa. 1:13)

There is a time when the condition of the heart and actions of a life is such that a correction can’t be made by ones own ideas. It is not possible to return to the Lord or to be right with the Lord without consulting with the the Lord.

That is why we see the Lord’s initiative in saying, “let’s talk!” Pretty much everything about their lives and actions was stained with the guilt of their sin, but the Lord said, “that can all change” they can once again be “white as snow.” Talk about the Lord’s mercy and an opportunity to be right and to begin again with a clean slate. Those opportunities in life are often rare, but not with the graciousness of the Lord. However, a proper and timely response is needed.

 Stop doing the evil things I see you do. Stop doing wrong. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Punish those who hurt others. Help the orphans. Stand up for the rights of widows.” (Isa. 16,17)

There needs to be a renewed commitment of the heart that was demonstrated by action. They had to stop some things and to start doing some other things. Stop the evil, commit to the good. I notice that there was not just a collective personal commitment but there was a community commitment as well. “Punish those who hurt others.”

The Lord’s assessment of the capital city was this, Jerusalem, your rulers are like those of Sodom, and your people are like those of Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1:10) I recall someone once pointed out that the “sin” of Sodom and Gomorrah that brought judgment included the acceptance of the wrong behavior of the people. It is one thing for sin to be present, it is another to allow it to go unaddressed and even endorsed. This is especially true for those who are to be “God’s people.”

The generous offer from the Lord who tries of “reason” with the wayward is, If you become willing and obey me, you will eat good crops from the land. But if you refuse to obey and if you turn against me,  you will be destroyed by your enemies’ swords.” The Lord himself said these things.” (Isa. 1:19,20)

This is not like “Let’s Make a Deal” where you choose between “door number 1” and “door number 2” and don’t know what is “behind the door.” The Lord makes it very clear about the choices and the consequences. What is amazing about the Lord’s grace and mercy is that He makes that offer generously; but the right decision, a decision to follow the Lord must be made.

Remember when we take a step toward the Lord, we find Him like the father of the prodigal, running toward us. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”  (James 4:8)