What is Isaiah saying in Isaiah 1:18: "Though your sins be as scarlet...." What is this passage saying about our sins?
KJV - 18 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.
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The use of scarlet and crimson in connection with sin in this verse is meant to be suggestive of a staining with blood (as indicated three verses earlier in Isaiah 1:15), representing the result of sin through acts such as murder, causing the murderer's hands to become red with the victim's blood. It is contrasted with a state of purity or holiness, characterized as being as white as snow. God is saying through the prophet that, despite the deep state of sin into which Judah has fallen, He is still capable of completely cleansing and purifying those who forsake their sin and turn to Him, through the salvation that His Son would ultimately make possible by the shedding of His own blood.
This is an interesting question, Jayne. "Sins as scarlet" (Isa 1:18), i.e., means as scarlet robes "glaring and habitual." Scarlet and crimson were the firmest of dyes, and thus not easily washed out. This dye was obtained by the Egyptians from the shell-fish Carthamus tinctorius; and by the Hebrews from the Coccus ilicis, an insect which infests oak trees, called kermes by the Arabians. Come and reason with him: not at the bar of his justice; there is no reasoning with him there; none can contend with him, or answer him, one of a thousand; if he marks iniquity in strict justice, none can stand before him; there is no entering the lists with him upon the foot of justice, or at its bar: but at the bar of mercy, at the throne of grace; there the righteous may dispute with him from his declarations and promises, as well as come with boldness to him. A Study in Summaries 1 A Solemn Declaration Isaiah 1:4 2 A Touching Lamentation Isaiah 1:5 3 A Gracious Invitation ISAIAH 1:18 4 A Divine Conclusion Isaiah 1:19,20 God’s Call to Men Isa.1:18 ‘Come now’ ––Invitation ‘Let us reason together’ ––Proclamation ‘Though your sins’ ––Proclamation ‘they shall be as white as snow’ ––Expiation [Isa 1:18] Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet “Though your sins be as scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though your sins be as scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, They shall be as wool!” “Though your sins be as scarlet, Though your sins be as scarlet, They shall be as white as snow, They shall be as white as snow.” He’ll forgive your transgressions, And remember them no more; He’ll forgive your transgressions, And remember them no more; “Look unto Me, ye people,” Saith the Lord your God! He’ll forgive your transgressions, He’ll forgive your transgressions, And remember them no more, And remember them no more.
In my opinion, he uses the imagery of scarlet because, as stated before, it was a firm dye. Something stained scarlet was practically permanent. The Savior has the power to do the impossible though and cleanse us, something we can’t do.
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