Come and Reason

 

"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'" (Isa. 1:18).

God describes His view of the children of Judah as one of rebellion, laden with sin, corrupters who have forsaken God, revolting, spiritually sick, desolate, and guilty of false worship. At this point, we as humans would have said "Enough!" However, God reveals Himself as being merciful, for in the following verses He extends an invitation to these same sinful people which seems totally out of character for a Holy God.

He says "Come now, and let us reason together." Now, why would God want to "reason" with such a depraved group of people? In order to deal with this difficult question, we need to know more about the Hebrew word which has been translated as "reason" here. Early manuscripts use a very interesting word in this first chapter of Isaiah, which should help us to understand. It can be used several different ways. There are at least five things that take place when we are willing to reason with God. The hardest part for me to understand is why God would desire to discuss anything with humans who are less intelligent, less wise, less knowledgeable, and less caring than He. What actually happens when we "reason" with God? The Hebrew word yakach suggests several applications.

I. It Is a Time when Things Are Made Right
One of the meanings of the term used is "to justify." We are aware that man cannot justify himself; this indicates to us that if we are to be justified, God must be the one to do it. In the rest of the verse, God clearly tells us what will happen: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." In order to justify, God must deal with the sin that separates and stands, between man and Himself. He does not re-arrange our sinful hearts. He puts a new Spirit within us, removes the stony rebellious heart, and replaces it with a submissive heart of flesh (Ezek. 11:19).

II. It Is a Time when We Are Made Keenly Aware of Our Sin
Another meaning of yakach is "to convict." God convicts us of the sin that stands between us. Conviction carries a penalty, "The wages of sin is death." This penalty of death can only be revoked by theshedding of blood; "For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [pardon or forgiveness] of sin." The Bible teaches that Jesus shed His blood at Calvary for those who believe and follow Him. Without conviction, we would feel no need of a Savior; this may be what is lacking in the post modern church.

III. It Is a Time when God Appoints Us to Carry out His Wishes
When we reason with God, He makes known His expectation. He gives us a job (an appointment) which He expects us to carry out under His power and direction. If we comply, we will be blessed of God; if we refuse His appointment, we will be cursed (see Isaiah 1:19,20).

IV. It Is a Time when God Provides Spiritual Maintenance
Just as our cars, houses, and appliances need regular maintenance, the soul of a Christian also must be maintained. Prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship certainly help, but a face to face "reasoning" with God is an absolute necessity in order to maintain a sound, spiritual life. To be in the presence of God is the source of spiritual strength and renewal. Without it our lives are merely a hum-drum existence.

Jesus offered spiritual maintenance to all who are "weary and heavy laden." Here, Jesus compares us to a cart which has been overloaded, and about to break down. Many Christians are struggling under an overload of cares, duties, and worries, of everyday life. Others are stressed out by cramming too many activities in a twenty-four hour day. Jesus told His disciples to "Come apart and rest for a while." They had just buried the body of John the Baptist. Their sorrow was overwhelming. They needed a change of pace, but Jesus did not tell them to sit under a shade tree. Instead He took them into the desert to witness one of His great miracles; the feeding of the five thousand.

Jesus put His disciples to work distributing the loaves and fish, and gathering the remaining leftovers. After that, Jesus sent them across the sea while He went to pray. In the middle of the sea, they encountered a great storm which nearly killed them. What kind of "rest" is that? Ah, but Jesus was watching them from the shore, and after a while He walked out to them and "stilled the storm." Again, this does not resemble the rest we envision. The Disciples were kept busy struggling for their lives, but through it all, they learned to trust in Jesus. Obedience to Jesus Christ always brings rest to the over-burdened, stressed out, burned out Christian. It is when we attempt to satisfy our own agenda, along with the agenda which God requires, that we encounter overload. Always put God first in your life.

V. It Is a Time When God Permits Us to Plead Our Case or Need
Even though God knows our needs before we ask, He wants us to ask anyway. There is good reason for that. "Ask that your joy may be full." We are to bring our petitions to Him. Insteadof complaining about how tough life is, we should be rejoicing in what God has already done for us.

When we are willing to reason with God, He offers to justify after convicting us of sin. When Isaiah "saw" the Lord, He cried out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 6:5). In verse seven, Isaiah's iniquity is taken away, and his sin purged. He then received his appointment to present God's word to the people of Israel.

We also need constant Spiritual Maintenance which is available through the grace of God, as we reason together. When our soul is in need of repair, when spiritual break-downs occur, take time to "reason" with God. He has all the answers.

Donald W. Raub is pastor of East Rockhill Chapel in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

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