I pray that your week has been blessed and productive. Summer seems to be upon us and we all are tossed about by the demands around us. It is often difficult to stay focused on the things of God amidst the turmoil. As we looked last week at the sovereignty of God and found that HE IS IN CONTROL, let’s focus this week on Isaiah 1:11-20. Although it is a lengthy passage I think we can benefit from this call of God to us to “…come now, and let us reason together”. Used here, the word reason is referring to the ability to think through, to assess, ‘the power of the mind to think, understand, form judgments by a process of logic’ (as stated in the dictionary).
In order to reason together with God beneficially we must first recognize that HE IS GOD AND WE ARE NOT!!! Or as the popular sign says–‘there is only one God, and YOU’re not Him’. Otherwise we will end up justifying ourselves or others and not come to good and profitable conclusions. We will be tempted to follow the reason of men which 2 Timothy 3:1-7 describes for us, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Here Paul clearly tells us that men will become saturated with their own “reasoning” rather than the true “reasoning” of God. As we look at the things in this list, it’s like reading the headlines of the paper or the evening news. To me the key, is seen in verse 2, in a phrase that we often overlook. “Men shall be…..” Men will not only “think/reason” their own ways but BE (continually) rejecting the ways of GOD. Paul calls this kind of “reasoning”, perilous!! Yet we have in our day integrated most of these attributes and behaviors into our culture as acceptable and common place: Self-love, envy, boasting, pride, blasphemy—pay any attention to the words that come out of you TV–, disobedient, ungrateful, unholy, no natural affection (parents neglecting their own children, and spouses abusing and abandoning one another, etc.), liars, false accusers, out of control, mean, hateful toward good people, traitors, arrogant, self-absorbed, hedonistic (loving pleasure as god), and most egregious—having a FORM of godliness, but denying the power thereof (wanting to be called by God’s name and ways, but not accepting HIS WAY, through JESUS ALONE). I could go on, but you get the picture. What offences against God are we willing to tolerate just to be “entertained” or be “affluent”.
Now, let’s go on to the passage in Isaiah and see what God clearly says about “our ways”. Isaiah 1:11-20 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” If I may take the liberty of paraphrasing for the sake of time and space, God declares ‘OUR EFFORTS’ as purposeless in verse 1. When we come to God any other way but HIS WAY it is not acceptable. No matter the form, religious piety or diligence—only coming to God HIS WAY will deliver us. Anything else offends and sickens God. He demands our total submission and devotion to HIS WAY–the Cross. And HE has made His way known clearly (read Romans 1) through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
Jeremiah 2:12-13 remind us “Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” And Isaiah 55:1-3 tells us that we must come to God for supply, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” So what can we reason/conclude from these passages? Although they are long, we see that our God has a way, HIS REASONING, and that if we will come to Him empty of ourselves and seek His grace and mercy through faith, HE WILL MEET US THERE!! We won’t have to drink out of leaky, muddy cisterns, but have fresh fountains of the water of life–Jesus. And we can get that water without money by “grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9). As Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;.” We can be ‘washed’ and made clean through Jesus. And according to Phil 2 we can have the mind of Christ and peace with God (Rom 5:1-5) by this ‘new covenant’ which the Holy Spirit works in us when we are saved, and He works it out through us as we yield to His working in us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10. So when we reason with God and accept HIS ways, we can be born again, and walk in His Spirit, with His power and grace. We can be God’s living testimony to the world that Jesus loves all, and HE IS ALIVE!