18 March 2014

Isaiah 1:16-20

“Though [your sins] are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (v. 18)


The early chapters of Isaiah are most probably written by the prophet at a time of great trouble. These verses therefore, are an offering of hope to the Jews as Isaiah proclaimed that God would graciously preserve a group of faithful people from among them for a time of worldwide peace.

Much of Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament, so many phrases are resonant with what the Gospels include. These verses can remind us of many of Christ's teachings such as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) for they encourage us to go and learn as though it is not taken for granted that we will naturally do good, pursue justice etc.

Our frailty as human beings makes us vulnerable to influences that take us away from God and what God hopes for us, so we must learn and stop doing evil things! Isaiah then speaks in pictorial, clear language about what is wrong and what can be made right with God. Through Isaiah God is offering hope to the people of Israel. God is not prepared to abandon them and is always there to bring about change (ie redemption). Even in the worst of times God longs for relationship with the people; God's desire is to be connected with them, to maintain the covenant.

The longing that is of God, keeps us close and draws us even closer to the loving gaze of the creator. As humans we know our need for each other and how we can feel when our human relationships are hurting. If we translate that relationship into the relationship God wants with us we can begin to understand why God wants to wash us clean and keep us like wool, warm and comforted by God's continual presence with us.

To Ponder

  • What is your experience of the Methodist Connexion? What resonates for you between your knowledge/experience of connexionalism and our relationship with God?
  • Where do you feel most warm and comfortable as a disciple of Christ? 

Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.