Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…
The gracious promise that God will make us clean follows immediately on a most distinct commandment that we make ourselves clean. Does this seem to you inconsistent? The Jews are here exhorted to make themselves clean,, by putting away from them the evil of their doings — ceasing to do evil, learning to do well. In fact, they are spoken to just as though it had wholly rested with themselves to acquire moral purity.
1. But I dare say they were ready with their objections: they would plead that it was really of no service to decry and exhort them in one and the same breath. "Of what use," they seem to say, "is it for us to make any effort, unable as we confessedly are to keep the law of God? And even were we able to obey for the future, is there not past disobedience for which we have yet to be reckoned with?" It is much in this way that men still receive exhortations to repentance and amendment; for such exhortations belong to the Gospel as much as to the law. And what do men say in reply? The minister, teaching as he does the doctrine of human corruption and helplessness, it is absurd that he should tell men to repent. Is he not contradicting himself?" It was, we may believe, in the face of such arguments as these, that God challenged me Jews to controversy in the words of our text. "Is this the way," the Almighty seems to exclaim. "in which you treat My urgent admonitions to amendment! Come now, let us reason together!" But with what sort of reasoning are the objectors met? Perhaps you look for some subtle and ingenious argument. Yet you have no argument at all; you have only the promise — a most free and gracious one, but still only a promise — "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." But how does the promise do away with the objection? Only thus, — God states this to be His appointed way; He designs to save men in this manner, and therefore is this manner prescribed. The parties to whom He will impart additional grace are those who, in obedience to His call, are straining every nerve to forsake evil ways. It is not that they are able of themselves to work out a moral amendment; but it is that God intends to bestow on them the ability whilst they are making the effort.
2. And, perhaps, the Jews raised more general objections. They may have. murmured at God's dealings, without selecting this or that particular instance, just as men are now disposed to arraign the appointments of Heaven as severe or unjust. The chapter in which our text occurs is full of indignant rebuke, and vehement threatenings, and it may not be imagined that a haughty people would fail to resent being so sternly addressed, and deny the equity of the judgments which the prophet foretold. If this be supposed, then God invites men to reason with Him on the goodness of His dealings. Come, let us clear the scene for the controversy. Come, all of you who think you are in any way hardly dealt with by God — that His dispensations are not such as might have been looked for — "Come, let us reason together." You need not, therefore, hesitate to utter plainly what you think, and to make statement of your grievances. Well, what have you to say? You urge, it may be, that your lot is one of poverty, that troubles are multiplied beyond your power of endurance, and temptations beyond your power of resistance. Some of you, perhaps, plead that, born as you are with corrupt tendencies, and placed where there is everything to incite and strengthen them, you have really no chance of keeping out of vice; that you are summoned to duties which are manifestly too arduous, and threatened, if you fail, with punishments which are manifestly excessive. You expect that God will take your complaints one by one, and either show them to be groundless, or, if He admit certain evils, show them more than counterpoised by blessings. Or, again, you expect that, as far as you have dwelt on trials peculiar to yourselves, God win patiently weigh them, prove them not excessive, or trace out beneficial results which they are calculated to produce. Well, this is very natural; I think it is just what would be, if the debate were with a mere human reasoner. But you will hearken in vain if you expect from God this careful exposure of the fallacy or falseness of your statements. There is heard nothing but the beautiful promise: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.