By Matt Redmond
Growing up in Alabama has not afforded me a whole lot of opportunities to enjoy the wonder of snow. But when we do receive that gift, the kid inside me comes alive. The expectation. The silent drift of white from the heavens. It’s the kind of thing we would find astonishing if we had never seen it before and suddenly it fell like gentle kisses on our heads.
I am not among those who think it an inconvenience. You would never hear me complain. A day off work? How about three? My favorite part is night—when the quiet has fallen over my street and you can hear the train down below in the valley, and the night is stark against the white blanket that covers the ground. It’s the “stab of joy” C. S. Lewis describes.
But I live in Alabama. The snow disappears soon and the magic leaves and the black of the roads emerges to let all us kids down.
For a while I did not get why God said in Isaiah 1:18 that even though our sins are like scarlet, He will make them white, like snow. Why not say our sins are black? That seems more appropriate. On the color spectrum, black is usually considered the opposite of white. Generally, when someone wants to contrast the whiteness of something, they use “black” or “darkness.” And that would fit here. God is saying throughout this chapter that Israel’s sins are a real problem.
So why does God say our sins are scarlet?
Israel knows, or should have known, how serious their sin problem was. They had been given the sacrificial system to point out how serious. Animals had to die. Blood had to be spilled to show them how seriously God took His own holiness and their sin. The ugliness of their rebellion was on full display when those animals were slaughtered and their blood dripped and ran and covered the ground.
Their sins were not just dark. They were scarlet. They were crimson like blood. And so are ours.
Think about the contrast: the scarlet of the blood our sin requires and the white of that snow covering our front yards as night falls. That is quite a reversal. But it did not come cheap. It came at the expense of the blood of Jesus on the cross.
But get this. Our sins are now as white as snow. I think there are a number of implications for this but here is one we cannot miss: when God looks at we who have trusted in the blood of Jesus, He doesn’t see the ugliness of our sin but the beauty of Jesus’ cleansing work. And it is beautiful and magical, like snow on a front lawn in Alabama. If you look at it rightly, the sight can take your breath away.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond
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6 thoughts on "Judah on Trial"
After reading this, I am reminded of the lyrics of the song Jesus Paid It All. The song says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Jesus was the only sacrifice that was able to change us from a sinful, red, bloody mess to a cleansed people that are “white as snow.” He took all of our sin upon Himself on the cross so that we could have forgiveness of our sin.
Our sins was made clean by Jesus. God, is that snow that covers everything. Blessed be the name of our Lord, Jesus the Christ.
How could Gods chosen people not understand how their sin was destroying them? It seems like their whole belief system was made up of a law that was strict and almost impossible to follow. Did they just give up? Were they simply numb to the fact that they could never live up to the law of Moses so they simply did what they could, but never extend themselves?
We currently live in the age of the resurrected Christ. He came to fulfill the law and free us from the chains of guilt and shame of never living up to the law. We have it easier, it would seem. However, I think we, like the ancient Jews, have become to numb to the truth and freedom of Christ’s message.
Looking back, it seems crazy to think that the people who witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, daily food falling from Heaven, and Yahweh in a cloud leading the armies of Israel to victory could so easily forget while we in modern days don’t get to see miracles of that magnitude. Of course, when God does move, we justify it in our minds and move on, cursing God for not showing Himself to us in the way we want.
We are no better.
We know the truth of Jesus. We have the privilege of studying scripture at our convenience. We can compare the words of Christ with the words of Isaiah side by side with a device in our pocket. We have more access to life-long experts of our faith -both dead and alive- than in any time in history.
We are no better.
We are no better.
Lent to me is another example of answering the call to sacrifice what I really want as a demonstration of my love towards God in appreciation of Jesus’s sacrifice. The amazing part is in seeing how often I fail when I choose to abstain (lent or otherwise), I increasingly recognize how incredibly difficult following through with that sacrifice was for Jesus (to the point he sweat blood). Sacrificing TV for 40 days (or alcohol, or sweets, etc.) doesn’t even compare. Yet the rebellion in me is strong and my flesh is weak. He, however, is strong enough for us both. Please pray I’ll do well at sacrificing for His glory this lent and am able to bring to mind the why of it when tempted otherwise.
My sin is inevitable. That is not something to boast about or remain comfortable with but it does help to acknowledge. My sin is inevitable and the amount of time for which I will continue to sin stretches into perpetuity, as long as I live.
But that is why Jesus died and rose again. Not just in forgiveness of the Israelites’ sin but my future sin as well. He provided salvation, washing out the scarlet of my sin, making my soul pure as snow.
The redemption of Jesus is the ultimate miracle. His life reflects the essence of our divine Father. His character and lessons embody unconditional love foreign to common human practice. We, alone, are drowning in our sinful nature; prone to wander, destined to fail. But if we put our faith in Christ, He will reward us with His guiding spirit and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Righteousness is only found in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. In Him, redemption turns crimson into white. Thank you, Father, for this beautiful gift of magnificent redemption.
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