“GOD’S PARLEY”   Part 2

Isaiah 1.18



1.   In Psalm 111.10, the psalmist declares that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

2.   In Proverbs 1.7, Solomon points out to his son that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”

3.   Why is it important that you fear God?  And what can be said about you when you fear God, but not before you fear God?

4.   My friends, God is of such a nature that any creature who deals with Him in a meaningful and reverent way, who comprehends His attributes, who is sensible of His might and majesty, His greatness and goodness, His holiness and how high and lifted up He is, will very naturally fear Him.

5.   The angels of heaven fear Him.  Why else do the seraphim use two wings to cover their eyes, use two wings to cover their feet, and with the remaining two wings fly, crying to each other, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”[1]

6.   The fallen angels here on earth, described as demons, also fear Him.  James 2.19 tells us that “the devils also believe, and tremble,” indicating their visceral fear of God.

7.   But there are different kinds of fear.  One kind of fear caused Adam and Eve to hide from the presence of the LORD.[2]  But the writer to the Hebrews suggests a more spiritual, a more intelligent, kind of fear.  In Hebrews 12.28 reference is made to serving God “with reverence and godly fear.”

8.   Why does God want you to fear Him?  Is it because He is a bully who enjoys terrifying creatures smaller and weaker than He is?  No.  My friends, it is only when God’s creatures are either profoundly ignorant of Him or are deluded and deceived about His glorious and grand nature that they do not fear Him.

9.   Therefore, whenever any of God’s creatures have any meaningful correspondence with Him, and not like the stupid and foolish anger exhibited by Cain in Genesis 4.5-6, fear of God will be present.  And it is not so unusual to be able to detect the fear of God in others when such fear is present.

10. So, a pastor is incompetent and completely ignorant concerning the nature and attributes of God who ignores the relevance of the fear of the Lord in the life of anyone, whether saved or lost.  And whenever a person is without fear of God, whether he is a Christian or not, he is at that moment ignoring God or is deluded about God’s awesome nature.

11. Let me bring this discussion of the fear of God home to you, for the purpose of applying it to our text for today and setting the table for this morning’s sermon.  Turn to Isaiah 1.18.  When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of my text for today:  “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.”

12. Last week, when we first looked that this verse, I focused my sermon on the initial command of God, the demand to dialog:  “Come now . . . saith the LORD.”  I pointed out that these two words comprise a summons, a summons from God, Who is to sinners a hostile adversary, because He has been grievously wronged by you, and Who demands from you an immediate response.

13. Here is where the fear of God and your response to God’s summons comes together.  Your sin-darkened understanding quite naturally, but wrongly, associates fear with something that is wrong.  So, your inclination is to avoid that which frightens you in favor of that which is not frightening.  God summons you, but you do not respond, you do not obey.

14. What I think will help you is to understand that all of God’s creatures who are not blinded by stupidity and sin fear Him.  The angels who stand in His presence greatly fear Him.  But they know that to fear God is not wrong.  It is simply not possible to have any appreciation of His majesty and His might, His immensity and His power, without fearing Him.

15. Therefore, do not shun an opportunity to deal with Him because you fear Him.  Do not refuse His summons because you fear Him.  The way it can be known that you are actually engaging God is your fear of Him.  Not a cringing fear that leaves you cowering and useless, but an intelligent fear of the awesome and Almighty God that fits you to deal with Him in a reverent, a respectful, and responsible way.

16. Again, let me say, if you do not fear God it can only be because you are clueless about Him, because you are not really dealing with Him in a beneficial way, because you have no comprehension of His greatness and His glory.  Thus, there is something terribly wrong with anyone who does not fear the one true and living God.

17. What happens, then, to a sinner who responds to God’s summons?  If he is really responding with a heartfelt obedience his response will be a fearful response.  There will be, at some level, a trembling of the soul.  When the earnest sinner accedes to God’s summons and comes now, he is in store for a season of deliberation that will include, to a greater or lesser degree, fear. 

18. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.”  The single word translated “let us reason together” is what is called a Hebrew Niphal verb, or a simple passive verb.[3]  But it needs to be pointed out that it is also an imperfect verb.[4] 

19. This suggests to me that what deliberation is begun with God will actually continue.  In other words, we are not looking at a single event that’s done and is then concluded.  I will come back to this thought as we proceed. 

20. So, we know that “let us reason together” is a Niphal verb, that it is imperfect, and it should also be pointed out that it is plural, meaning more than one is involved with the action of the verb.  But what does this word actually mean?

21. The root word means “decide, adjudge, prove.”[5]  So what we have here is what the reliable commentators Keil and Delitzsch describe as a challenge by God to a formal trial in which the outcome is already known.[6]

22. Amazing, is it not?  God, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty God, the righteous One Who is holy and true, shows incredible graciousness.  He is within His rights to crush all opposition, to avenge Himself of all His foes, to punish each and every sinner who has violated Him and grievously wronged Him.  But He is, nevertheless, willing for an examination to take place.

23. Scrutinize God and then scrutinize yourself.  See what happens when you properly consider your alleged grievances against God and the rationales you use for your wrongdoing, and then compare them alongside God’s many mercies, God’s pristine holiness, and His rights and prerogatives as Creator and Lord.

24. But as you judge and evaluate using the impartial and objective standard of God’s Law, keep several important things in mind:



1B.    Meaning, it is not all about you.  You have spent your entire life thinking about you, and what you want, and what you think is right, and what makes you happy, and conceiving of yourself as the center of the universe, and how you should get what you feel is right for you.

2B.    But from this point on, in your dealings with God, it must no longer be just about you.  The issue before you is sin, and sin is preeminently the wronging of another, violating another.  And this is not about you wronging another once or twice or three times.  This is about your lifelong inclination against another, as well as your specific offenses against another.

3B.    There being two involved, it is now inappropriate to rely on subjective evaluations such as “I feel,” or “I think,” or “I would like,” or “I want.”  With two involved, for justice to be done, the deliberations must proceed on the basis of objective criteria such as right versus wrong, truth versus lies, light versus darkness, life versus death, righteousness versus iniquity, and Law versus lawlessness.



1B.    There is nothing about you and God that can be compared.  Apart from the fact that you descend from Adam, who was made in the image and likeness of God, and that image and likeness is now marred and disfigured by your sin, the two parties in this deliberation are nothing alike.

2B.    God is infinite and limitless, while you are finite and extremely limited.  God is big and you are small.[7] God is all powerful, and you are without strength.[8]  God is life, and you are dead in trespasses and sins.[9]  God is good, yet you are evil.[10]  God is holy, yet you are defiled.[11]

3B.    But consider, also, that God is the Law Giver, while you are the Law breaker.  God is moral, while you are immoral.  He is the authority, while you are the rebel outlaw.  He is the judge, while you are the criminal.  Indeed, He is the Potter and you are the clay.[12]  So you see, there is no equality involved in this deliberation.  How magnanimous, therefore, God is to be willing to deliberate with you about these matters.



1B.    To be estranged refers to being alienated, to being turned away in feelings or affection.[13]  And is this not the case between you and God?  Why else would the apostle Paul have likened the relationship that exists between God and unreconciled sinners such as yourself as one of enemies?[14]

2B.    Indeed, why would God have sent His Own begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer and bleed and die, the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, unless there had been this estrangement?[15]  And does not your own lackadaisical and generally nonchalant attitude toward God display this estrangement?  For you see, those few men and women who are no longer estranged from God have a vibrant, an energetic, an enthusiastic communion with Him that is very remarkably accented by their healthy fear of the LORD.  Such does not exist with you.



1B.    Of the two of you who are involved in this deliberation, keep in mind that God has done nothing wrong, while you have done nothing right.  God is holy, which is to say that He is completely free from any taint of sin or wrongdoing.  But you are defiled by sin to such a degree that even your righteousnesses, which is to say even your very best efforts, are filthy rags.[16]

2B.    Thus, you are the criminal here.  You are the wicked one.  You are the guilty party.  You are the law breaker.  You are the violator.  You are despicable.  God, on the other hand, is innocent and righteous and pure and clean . . . free from any guilt of wrongdoing.  You are without love for God, while He loves you.

3B.    A glance at Paul’s indictment in Romans chapter 3 shows that you are unrighteous, without understanding, do not seek after God, are gone out of the way, are unprofitable, do no good whatsoever, spew poisonous lies from your mouth, leave misery and destruction in your path, are completely disruptive and without peace, and have no fear of God, or any understanding of why you should fear God.

4B.    No wonder our text begins, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet . . . .”  You see, though both you and God are involved in this great deliberation, only you have sins.  God is holy.



1B.    How do we know this is true?  How can we be sure reconciliation can be effected?  Well, it’s the whole point of the verse, isn’t it?  If reconciliation could not be effected, then Jesus failed in His mission, didn’t He?

2B.    Turn to Romans 5.10 and read with me, please:  “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”  Among other things, this verse establishes that those who were once enemies, God and sinners, can be reconciled.  Sinners can get saved.  Sins can be forgiven.  Heathens can become Christians.

3B.    But what is required for this to happen?  Back to Isaiah 1.19-20, please:  “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”  Recognizing that this passage was written to Israel, how do we apply it to your situation?  Simple.  You have to be willing and obedient for reconciliation with God to take place.  If you refuse and rebel, you are doomed.

4B.    But what about God?  My friend, He has already proven that He is willing.  After all, He quite freely summoned you to this deliberation, when He could have simply and justly cast you straightway into Hell.  As well, does not the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, tell us something of His willingness and desire to be reconciled with you?



1B.    God is not lost, you are.  God is not dead in trespasses and sins, you are.  God seeks remedies to no problems or deficiencies He has, only remedy for your deficiencies and sins.  God has no compulsion to save anyone from their sins, He saves some because He is both gracious and merciful.

2B.    So, you are the one who is in trouble.  You are the one who is bound for Hell.  You are the one who stands in need of God’s forgiveness.  You are the one who requires the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  You are the one deserving wrath.  You are the one who will suffer God’s wrath.



1.   We have looked at two portions of God’s parley.  The first part, “Come now,” is God’s demand to dialog.  The second part, “let us reason together, saith the LORD,” explains the deliberation that is involved.

2.   What is not specifically mentioned in this passage, but which I have pointed out must happen whenever one of God’s creatures takes note of His glorious attributes and majestic personage, is the fear of God.

3.   If you properly respond to God’s summons, “Come now,” there will be a component of your dealings with God called fear.  Do not shun it or avoid it, for it is a necessary and fit portion of your dealings with God.

4.   Next week, the Lord willing, I will show what the outcome of parleying with God can be, what you must want it to be, and what it rightly must be for you to escape everlasting torment.

5.   Now, do you remember that earlier thought that I said I would get back to?  I mentioned that the word “let us reason together” was an imperfect verb.  That means the action of the verb is not complete.  What are the implications of that?

6.   I believe that once a sinner, as it were, sits down at the bargaining table and does serious business with God, he will begin a process of dealing with God about his sins.  That process of dealing with God about his sins will not end in this lifetime, even if the sinner gets converted.

7.   Therefore, when a sinner comes to Jesus Christ, his dealings with God about his sins have not ended.  Though his sins are washed in the blood of Christ, that sinner now come to Christ will continue to deal with God about his sins, will continue to deliberate with God about his sins, for the rest of his natural life.

8.   The difference will be, once the sinner is justified he has an offering for sins.  One he is reconciled to God he has ground to access the throne of grace.  Once a sinner is come to Christ and is forgiven, he becomes a child of God . . . but will be a child of God who still deals with God about his sins until his promotion to glory.

[1] Isaiah 6.3

[2] Genesis 3.8

[3] J. Weingreen, A Practical Grammar For Classical Hebrew, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), page 100.

[4] John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, Vol 4, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1989), page 4.

[5] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: 1979), page 406.

[6] C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996) page 64.


[7] First Kings 8.27

[8] Romans 5.6

[9] Ephesians 2.1

[10] Psalm 31.19; Romans 3.10-23

[11] Leviticus 11.45

[12] Isaiah 64.8

[13] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 664.

[14] Romans 5.10

[15] First Peter 3.18

[16] Isaiah 64.6, where the phrase “filthy rags” refers to garments polluted by menstruation, see Owens, page 194.

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