Chapter CONTEXT from MHCC: The first verse of this chapter is intended for a title to the whole book, and it is probable that this was the first sermon that this prophet was appointed to publish and to affix in writing (as Calvin thinks the custom of the prophets was) to the door of the temple, as with us proclamations are fixed to public places, that all might read them (Hab. 2:2), and those that would might take out authentic copies of them, the original being, after some time, laid up by the priests among the records of the temple. The sermon which is contained in this chapter has in it, I. A high charge exhibited, in God’s name, against the Jewish church and nation, 1. For their ingratitude (v. 2, 3). 2. For their incorrigibleness (v. 5). 3. For the universal corruption and degeneracy of the people (v. 4, 6, 21, 22). 4. For the perversion of justice by their rulers (v. 23). II. A sad complaint of the judgments of God, which they had brought upon themselves by their sins, and by which they were brought almost to utter ruin (v. 7-9). III. A just rejection of those shows and shadows of religion which they kept up among them, notwithstanding this general defection and apostasy (v. 10-15). IV. An earnest call to repentance and reformation, setting before them life and death, life if they complied with the call and death if they did not (v. 16-20). V. A threatening of ruin to those that would not be reformed (v. 24, 28-31). VI. A promise of a happy reformation at last, and a return to their primitive purity and prosperity (v. 25-27). And all this is to be applied by us, not only to the communities we are members of, in their public interests, but to the state of our own souls... (continued)
I wish to do something very different than my usual textual exposition this morning and concentrate on one phrase or even word found in our main text, let us reason together. This chapter of Isaiah is all about the rebellion of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, and God has gotten for lack of a better expression had enough of it.
In v.16-17 God tells these rebellious people to get their act together, to wash clean of all evil, learn to do well, and follow the commandments. Then in our main text on the surface, it seems God is willing to converse and bargain with this wayward nation when He says, Come now and…
Like in all calls from God this can not be taken as just a friendly gesture a polite invitation it is an exhortation a command. In effect, God is saying listen I am the God almighty pay attention here. When He then says let us reason together, the implications are not a two-way discussion but that His ways have been and will always be proven reasonable, and just so listen up.
Think about this for a minute how can a rebellious man reason with God? I think we can all agree that reasoning requires knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom and (righteous) knowledge can only be obtained from God and His Holy Word. God would never try to engage in a discussion, debate, etc. with a person walking in rebellion to His commandments.
“Wisdom is to be found with God and nowhere else. And unless the quest for wisdom brings a man to his knees in awe and reverence, knowing his own helplessness to make himself wise, wisdom remains for him a closed book” (The Journal of Bible and Religion, 23:3 [July 1955], 195). It’s wonderful to have the book of God’s wisdom opened to us as believers.Lawrence Toombs, in his 1955 article “O.T. Theology and the Wisdom Literature,”
Matthew Poole’s Commentary on verse 18
Come now, and let us reason together; I am willing to lay aside my prerogative and to submit the matter to a fair and equal trial, whether I do not deal justly in rejecting all your services, which are accompanied with such gross hypocrisy and wickedness, and whether I do not deal very graciously in offering mercy and pardon to you upon these conditions.
Though your sins be as scarlet, red and bloody, as theirs were, Isaiah 1:15, great and heinous,
they shall be as white as snow; they shall be washed and purged by the blood of the Messias, whereby you shall be made white and pure in God’s sight. It is a metonymical expression, as sins are said to be purged, Hebrews 1:3, when men are purged from their sins, Hebrews 9:14.
Shall be as wool; which for the most part is white, and is compared to snow for whiteness, Revelation 1:14.