For the week of July 29, 2006 / 4 Av 5766
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22
Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27
Let's Be Reasonable
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
Statistics tend to show that a great number of people say they believe in God. It wouldn't surprise me if a majority of those people would also say that their belief in God is a significant part of their lives. For many, their understanding of God provides them a measure of hope - both in this life and the age to come. God is a comfort to the hurting, an inspiration to the struggling, and an ideal for the hard working. Having a concept of God gives reason to many of life's unanswered questions and a point of reference in a confused world.
But I wonder how many of these same people have personally interacted with God. To many God might be an ideal, a hope, and an inspiration, but is he a living and dynamic being who desires to engage us?
Through the prophet Isaiah, God offered ancient Israel an opportunity to engage him: "Come now, let us reason together." That the Creator and Master of the universe would give such an invitation is incredible, but this is his heart for his beloved creatures. He longs to engage us, to communicate with us, to hear our cries for help, as well as our heartfelt gratitude in response to his ongoing goodness to us.
We live in troubled times. Whether or not these times are more troubled than any other time in history is debatable. The fact is human history is a story of trouble. At times life's difficulties are easier to deny than at other times, but the reality is from the beginning the human family has continually suffered. Hatred, betrayal, injustice, sickness, disasters, and war are ongoing experiences in all cultures, at all times, and in all parts of the globe.
Those who have taken the fact of human hardship seriously have offered many solutions to these problems. They, like God, have tried to get our attention, trying to engage us, so that we might accept their particular solution. If only we would embrace their ideology, take up their cause, or consume their supplement, we would find that which will make us the kind of people we were meant to be.
But it is only the God of Israel - the One who made us all - who truly understands our deepest need and knows what it will take to resolve the human dilemma. He still says to us today, "Come now, let us reason together."
If we would stop and listen to what he has to say to us, we, at first, may not like what we hear, for what he has to say goes deep down into the depths of our beings. He offers no quick and easy fix, but if we would allow him to reason with us, the end result will be more wonderful than anything we have ever dreamed of.
God knows that the real problem we all have is that we come into this world alienated from him. Whatever great notions we might have of ourselves, of life, and of God, we are born separated from him. God originally designed us to be his representatives on earth, but due to our first parents' rebellion against God, we have inherited a rebellious nature. The biblical word that describes our rebellious nature is sin. Because of the presence of sin in us, we commit sins, which are the misdeeds and bad attitudes that we are all quite familiar with. It is because of sin that life is not what it should be. And it is our sin that God wants to address.
God wants more than to just address it, he wants to resolve it once and for all. God's great desire for us is that we would be set free from the control of sin in our lives. Every other attempt to resolve the great problems of the human family is like a cheap band-aid compared to the effective and permanent solution offered to us by God: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
Through the Messiah, God has made a way for us to be free from the effects of sin. Until we are willing to sit down with him and allow him to speak to us, we will remain in our dismal condition. A dismal, yet unnecessary, condition. Let's be reasonable and hear what God wants to say to us.
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