As we awoke this morning in Texas to several inches of powdery wonder, it brought a sense of awe and beauty. There’s something mesmerizing about fresh, fallen snow. Something magical as it reflects the sunlight. Clean. Undisturbed. New.
The glory of the snow reminded me this morning of the promise of the Lord:
“Come, let us discuss this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)
In light of Israel’s condition of sin, idolatry, and rebellion against God (vv. 2–17), there was only one reasonable course of action. They could continue as they were and be destroyed or submit to God’s will and be blessed.
The Lord had given them clear instruction what they needed to do by faith, “Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves.” (Isaiah 1:16) As a principle, God required the shedding of blood for forgiveness of the wickedness of sin under the Mosaic Law. The moral cleansing of God’s people was by faith in the sacrifices of blood for the forgiveness of sin. In Israel, the priest sprinkled animal blood on the altar with a hyssop branch. This ritual symbolized cleansing by sacrificial death (cf. Psalm 51:7). The sacrificial ceremony for Israel was not just going through the motions, it was an attitude of worshipping God exactly as He specified satisfied Him. But if they washed themselves and cleansed themselves morally by faith, they would be thoroughly clean, like fresh, fallen snow.
Whereas animal blood adequately cleansed the obedient worshipers under the Old Covenant, a better sacrifice was necessary to cleanse the realities in heaven for us today under the New Covenant (cf. Hebrews 8:5; 9:22-24). So, Jesus Christ’s death was essential to wash us and cleanse us of sin.
The faith of God’s people in the ceremonial sacrifice was to have an impact in how they lived their lives, too. “Remove your evil deeds from My sight.” the Lord said. “Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:16b-17)
If they were willing to obey, God would again bless them. If they decided to refuse and rebel, He would allow their enemies to defeat and destroy them. Behavioral change, the fruits of repentance, needed to demonstrate an attitude of repentance. It always does.
“Come, let’s discuss this,” God says to us today, too. We can easily just go through the motions of worship. We can hear God’s word, but forget it or ignore it. We can live our lives with just outward performance, but like the Israelites, our prayers become ineffective because our attitude to God is not right (Isaiah 1:15).
But, as we trust in the Lord Jesus completely for our forgiveness and we worship Him daily with an attitude of dependence, our lives are like fresh, fallen snow. Clean. Undisturbed. New.