When you extend your hands,
I’ll hide my eyes from you.
Even when you pray for a long time,
I won’t listen.
Your hands are stained with blood.
16 Wash! Be clean!
Remove your ugly deeds from my sight.
Put an end to such evil;
17 learn to do good.
help the oppressed;
defend the orphan;
plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let’s settle this,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be white as snow.
If they are red as crimson,
they will become like wool.
Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow. If they are red as crimson, they will become like wool. —Isaiah 1:18b
In this passage Isaiah is speaking out, prophesying about the sinful lives and behaviors of the people of Jerusalem. After having their land overtaken and, after living in rebellion to their faith, they are turning to God. They want God’s healing, but they offer burnt offerings and sacrifices without any heartfelt repentance. They are “stained” with the blood of the sacrifices. Their “sins are like scarlet…red as crimson.” This imagery is clear, powerful, and easily understood by people who butchered their own meat for meals.
Often we live such outwardly clean lives that we don’t see the sinfulness we carry within. Noticing it, accepting that it’s there, and seeking a way to live differently will open us up to God’s forgiveness.
Questions to Discuss:
What thoughts do you have about the color red?
What emotions might you be feeling if your face turns red?
Red might also represent Jesus’ blood. What correlation do you see between the Isaiah passage and the image of Jesus’ blood?