“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord;
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be 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.”
These are times of prayer. We’re looking to the Lord for help in dark times. We want him to act, to help rid us of this disease. We plead with him and we point to all the reasons why he should answer our prayers. we pray for mothers, asking the Lord to think of their children. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, asking the Lord to remember their baptism and the promises of his covenant love.
But God also wants to reason with us. He also speaks to us, pleading even for us to return to him with a whole heart. He longs for us to give up our rebellious and self-centered ways. He wants to see justice done in the city and he looks for the care of the poor and the needy. Come back to me, he says, by doing what is right.
There is a very real sense in which our sin hinders our prayers. We ask God for any number of things. But why should he answer us when we ignore his instruction for how we are to treat his creation and those made in his image? Why give us more when we misuse it? Why extend our lives when we live only for ourselves?
There are hard answers to these good questions. But God is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). Jesus teaches that Jesus feeds the just and the unjust alike. Leonard Ravenhill once wrote, “Isn't it amazing that God gives breath to a man who is going to blaspheme Him all day!” Such is the extent of his love and mercy.
His forgiveness extends even further. To forgive us, God sent his Son to die in our place. There is not a sin that cannot be absolved by the blood of Jesus. There is no point too far away that his sacrifice cannot save you.
How reasonable. All we need do is turn back to him. And he will meet us with forgiveness and mercy. And your sins will be whiter than snow.
Father, it is not in our nature to repent and return to you. Because of the sin that lies deep in our hearts, we are bent in on ourselves, selfish and self-centered. Have mercy on us. Open our eyes to see and our hearts to hear. Grant us repentance. Teach us to listen to your voice of reason.
In Jesus’ name,