I love my son, Judah. Every time I come home from work, chaos ensues. We run rampant around the house and chase each other around. It’s so much fun! We also have little sayings we say to each other. Since my wife calls me by my given Afghan name, “Tofa”, Judah also calls me this instead of daddy sometimes. He even says it in the same voice inflection as my wife…its priceless. There are two little phrases that I often say to him as well. Both come from the Bible and I am not exactly sure how they got lodged in my head, but nevertheless they flow freely in conversation with my son. One saying is, “You are my son in whom I am well pleased.” I say this often to him as I shower him with praise for doing something well, or just because I love him no matter what he does. Of course, in the Bible, God says this to Jesus in a remarkable expression of His love for His Son and His obedience.
The other night I asked Judah what he wanted to do. He replied, “let’s reason together!” HA! This saying of course comes from Isaiah 1 and is something I commonly said to him over his short life as a funny little remark. I would say, Now, Judah, “Lets reason together!” and he was just start giggling or run around the house screaming. He obviously has no idea what it means, however, I thought it really funny that he wanted to do this the other night without any prompting from me.
God, in Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” This passage has always been lodged in my head because it starts off one of the most powerful books in the canon with emotion, pleading, and confrontation. God is directly coming to Israel and their people and making a petition to “reason together” with Him. He goes on to say, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be white as snow…If you are willing and obedient…you will eat the good of the land…” God is basically saying here: let’s figure this out. If you would just come under my plan, my instruction, obey me, then you will be in my purposes and you will be redeemed. This is of course nothing less than the gospel message….repent, do my will, and I will make you clean.
It is dangerous to pluck these verses out of context, however. What exactly is God wanting to “reason” about? What is it that He wants us to be “willing” and “obedient” to that will then make us “white as snow”? The answer can be found in the verses preceding these. Starting in verses 14 and onward, God is describing that He is fed up with His people. They “are a trouble to Me” says God. Then in verse 16 of Isaiah 1 comes this proclamation from God:
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,Rebuke the oppressor,
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.”
After this command of biblical justice, God then delivers His “let us reason together” followed by the aforementioned, “if you obey and do my will, you will be white as snow” remark. An easy interpretation of these verses is that it is God’s will for justice and that He desires for us to obey in that….
But I doubt many would disagree with this. How could they? It is right there in Scripture. However, I am always confused and confounded by the desperate nature of the passage and the outcomes of it. If we “seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, and plead for the widow” then we will become “white as snow…and eat the good of the land”. Strong words indeed. Now some could say my interpretation is off, but I would then quickly point to Matthew 25 and Jesus’s call to the “least of these” with similar statements and demands. In this passage, Jesus is saying some people will “inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world” and others will “go away into everlasting punishment” or “depart from Him (Jesus), cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devils and his angels”, all depending on how we took care of others, particularly the “naked, immigrant, sick, lame…” Please interpret that someway else! I have yet to hear a pastor preach that without sugar coating it or glossing over the extreme nature of it. But more to come on this passage in a later blog post.
Let us reason together! Indeed! Let us! Let us be people who do the will of God, who obey His clear teachings of biblical justice for all, particularly the most oppressed and marginalized. Amen.