By Kevin Rutherford
Isaiah’s description of the people of Judah in his day shows a corrupt and declining society (Isaiah 59). Isaiah writes, “No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity (Isaiah 59:4).” He also says, “their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways (Isaiah 59:7-8).” Isaiah notes, “we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied (Isaiah 59:11-12).”
These transgressions of the people had caused them to become separated from God (Isaiah59:1-2). Yet, despite the stubborn and arrogant rebellion of the people, God was still willing to give them an opportunity to repent and to be forgiven. God says, “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 (Isaiah 1:16-17).” The people needed to repent and God showed them how. The reward of forgiveness He promised them if they would repent should have been motivation enough for them to change. “Come now and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient you shall eat of the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword (Isaiah 1:18-20),”
God was willing to forgive them if they would repent. Just as God was willing to forgive those with multiplied transgressions if they would repent, so God was willing to forgive Saul. Although Saul was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man,” the grace of God was exceedingly abundant in giving him the opportunity to be saved (1 Timothy 1:12-17). Saul/Paul says he obtained mercy so that Jesus Christ could show in him “a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (1 Timothy 1:16).” Saul had stubbornly rebelled against God as he violently tormented Christians, and yet he was willing to repent, and God forgave him when he did.
If God was willing to forgive the people described in Isaiah and if He was willing to forgive Saul, when they repented, then surely He is willing to forgive us if we will repent and turn to Him. Peter says repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Luke also records these words of Peter, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19).” The message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is one which fills the pages of the Bible and is one which gives great hope and joy to those willing to listen. No matter how wicked a person’s life has been that person is eligible to repent and be forgiven. If one has never become a Christian he needs to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). If one has become a Christian but needs to be forgiven he needs to repent and pray (Acts 8:22). God wants us to change. He wants us to turn away from our transgressions and iniquities so that we can be saved. Consider the long-suffering of God, the depths of God’s love, and the riches of God’s grace if you have separated yourself from Him by sin. Repent and come to Him in humble service and obedience, and He will forgive you. Though your sins are as scarlet you shall be as white as snow.