Isaiah 1:11-20

Isa 1:11

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.


Instead of the people obeying the law of the LORD they through they could continue to live their evil lifestyles by means of increasing the amount of sacrifices they offered.  Of course, they were living in sin and in this verse God is rejecting their sacrifices because he knows they are being given with an ulterior motive which is to continue in their sin.  The offerings were given to keep and restore fellowship with the LORD under the law of Moses.  The fat was given as the best part of the sacrifice offered unto the LORD.  The blood was placed on the altar as an atonement for sins which represented their deliverance and forgiveness given by God.  The bullocks, lambs, and male goats were used as sacrifices.  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)


Isa 1:12

When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?


Three times a year that all able males would appear before the LORD.  Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD. (Exodus 23:17)  They were not required to bring a sacrifice when they appeared before the LORD.  For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: (Jeremiah 7:22)  “Treading the courts” meant they were coming into the LORD’s house in a very abusive and ungodly way with their minds bent on continual sin.  When they approached the LORD they were to reverence him and not come in with a worldly mindset.  Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:30) 


Isa 1:13

Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.


The oblations or sacrifices were to have spiritual meaning to them which was the foreshadow of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.  Here God is commanding them not to bring any more vain or useless oblations.  Incense was to make the sanctuary smell very good with a heavenly scent but here it is an abomination unto the LORD.  The new moons were celebrated on the first of the month at the appearing of the moon.  The sabbaths were supposed to be a day of rest and anyone who violated it could be stoned to death.  Then there was the holy convocation or assembly which was done on the Sabbath day.  The LORD told them to cease these things because iniquity pervaded their heart and it was all done in sinful vanity and that included the solemn meetings which took place at the various feasts like Pentecost or Weeks.


Isa 1:14

Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.


The new moons and appointed feasts of Leviticus 23 was now abhorred of the LORD because they no longer honored God and showed their love and dedication to him.  Instead of these feasts being a joy to God and a blessing to the people, they became wearisome to the LORD, a burden.


Isa 1:15

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.


Then they would spread out their hands with their palms facing upward which was a sign of humility in the presence of the LORD.  They were rejecting God’s teaching and were still seeking their own way.  They thought that the many verbal prayers they prayed would somehow appease God but their praying was in vain because they did not come from a heart of contrition but a heart of pride and sinful rebellion.  God would not hear their prayers, no matter how many they prayed and even using religious language.  Just like in today’s churches how many say the Lord’s prayer in rote fashion, they never mean it but just say the words in a ritualistic fashion.  Their hands are full of blood as they had degenerated so deep into sin that they killed their own prophets and they partook in murder to gain properties and wealth.  Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; (Jeremiah 7:9) 


Isa 1:16

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;


Then the LORD changes his approach from declaring their sin to the fact that there is still hope for them to return to him.  They cannot be washed in water or some type of ceremonial bath like the Jews do today.  They must be cleansed by the blood of Christ so their soul is clean before the LORD.  They are admonished to put away the evil acts and the evil mindsets from before the eyes of the LORD who sees every action they do.  They are to cease from evil and return to the LORD for it is not yet gone too far at this point that judgment is necessary.


Isa 1:17

Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.


Then the LORD gives them some ways to return unto him.  They learn to do well by seeking the LORD and his wisdom in their daily affairs so they can turn their life around from worldly wisdom to heavenly wisdom.  They are to seek judgment, that is, proper justice should be done for all the people whether they be poor or rich.  Then they are to bring relief to the oppressed which would be the poor who are oppressed by the rich and powerful.  Then to give proper justice to the orphans as they are taken advantage of and have no one to plead their cases.  Then the widow was supposed to be taken care of as widows were sometimes considered the lowest social class but should no longer be looked upon as that.


Isa 1:18

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.


Since I became a Christian 40 years ago, I have heard the interpretation of this verse as follows that if one repents and turns to Christ, then their sins which were scarlet would be made as white as snow, meaning a person goes from being a sinner to one who is cleansed. However, in this case that interpretation does not match up with what the verse states and the context in which it is found. When we look at the context of Isaiah 1, God is pronouncing a serious woe upon the nation of Judah. Isaiah 1:1-24 speaks about their impending day of Judgment by the hand of the Chaldeans. Isaiah 1:25-31 speaks about the restoration of Judah if she will heed the warnings the Lord gave in the first 24 verses.


Verse 18 sits in the middle of this warning and is not a salvation verse because the warning of chapter 1 is to an entire nation and not individuals. When we look at verse 18, it speaks about a nation who has sin in their life and is going opposite of the commands of the Lord. So the Lord comes to them and says that their sins are as scarlet but they will be as white as snow and though they be like crimson, they will be as wool. This verse is not speaking about redemption but is a further warning that if their sins continue as they are going, then they will be fully engulfed in sin and God will have no recourse but to judge that nation.


The reason that I am saying that Isaiah 1:18 is not pointing to salvation by grace is because that does not fit the context of what is in view plus it does not harmonize with what is taught in the Scriptures concerning sin and Christ’s sacrifice. If we look at the following verses, we will see a common thread which runs through them.


(Psa 103:12 KJV) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.


(Isa 43:25 KJV) I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.


(Isa 44:22 KJV) I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.


(Col 2:13-14 KJV) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;


If you will notice the words in these verses, “he removed,” “blotteth out,” “I have blotted out,” “Blotting out,” “took it out of the way.” These five verses all have the common thread of the removal of sins from the believer upon salvation in Christ. The sins which darkened our souls before salvation are gone. They are no longer attached to the believer because God has annihilated them.


Let me give a quick illustration. I show up at your home to paint your car with white paint but the car was towed out to the junkyard two hours before I arrived. I have the paint and I have the brush, but since the car was removed, there is nothing to paint. How can I paint a car that is no longer there? In the same manner, how can one be made white if their sins are no longer there? It is the soul that is cleansed.


Let us look at two practical examples of this in Scripture.


(2 Sam 12:13 KJV) And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.


When David sinned with Bathsheba, he had kept from confessing that sin for about a year and since God would not let him get away with that sin and the other accompanying sins such as the murder of Uriah the Hittite, He sent Nathan to David. Nathan then points out the fact that David was the object of his narrative and he was the man who sinned against the Lord. Then Nathan tells David something very interesting, “The Lord has made your sin white.” That is not what he said, he said, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin.” God completely removed the sin from David but, He did not remove the consequences as you study the life of David from this point, there is nothing but hardship and rebellion in his family. The key is, that God took away the sin of David, it is no longer attached to his soul.


(Acts 3:19 KJV) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;


Acts 3:19 is a part of a sermon Peter gave right after the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful at the Temple. After the man was healed, Peter then begins to speak about salvation. In verse 19, notice what Peter states. He states the same actions that God spoke about in Isaiah concerning the blotting out of sin. Notice that Peter did not say, “that your sins be made white as snow.” Peter states that when a person becomes saved, their sins are blotted out. The Greek word for “may be blotted out” is the Greek word “exaleiphô ” which carries with it the meaning of “erase, obliterate, wipe or smear out.” It is the same word used in Colossians 2:14 for “Blotting out.” There is no question about what happens to the sins of the believer, they are obliterated.


Now let us take a look at Isaiah 1:18 and see if it harmonizes with the verses that we just looked at. The words in these verses, “he removed,” “blotteth out,” “I have blotted out,” “Blotting out,” “took it out of the way” all show a removal of sin from the believer, that is, a separation of the sin and the believer. Referencing Isaiah 1:18, I must ask the question, How can sin, that has been removed, be made white as snow? If it is not there, then something else is in view in Isaiah 1:18.


What is in view is how God is making a comparison to leprosy and its representation as an all-consuming sin. Judah would have been familiar with the Levitical laws concerning leprosy.


(Lev 13:19-20 KJV) And in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish, and it be showed to the priest; {20} And if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil.


In Leviticus 13:19-20, we read about the priest determining as to whether a person who has leprosy is clean or unclean. Notice in verse 19, it speaks about a reddish spot on the skin. One of the beginning symptoms of leprosy is the red skin or patch. Please note in the following citations from these medical websites with their URL.



Tuberculoid Leprosy Symptoms

Tuberculoid leprosy (also known as paucibacillary leprosy) is the mild form of leprosy. Early symptoms can include one or more light or slightly red patches of skin that appear on the trunk or extremities. This may be associated with a decrease in light-touch sensation in the area of the rash.



In general, the signs and symptoms of leprosy may vary with the form of the disease and include the following:

Flat or raised skin lesions or nodules, often less pigmented than the surrounding skin, though they may reddish or copper colored



Signs and Symptoms of Leprosy

The earliest sign of leprosy is commonly a spot on the skin that may be slightly redder, darker, or lighter than the person's normal skin. The spot may lose feeling and hair. In some people, the only sign is numbness in a finger or toe.



Hansen’s disease (Leprosy) is a bacterial disease of the skin and nerves. Early signs or symptoms may include:

    1) A rash on the trunk of the body and/or extremities

    2) Reddish or pale colored skin patches which do not itch and which may have lost some feeling


Now when we look at the early symptoms of leprosy, in all four medical websites, we see there is a presence of red on the skin. This means that the disease had not yet spread to the entire body but is beginning to and without medical treatment it will engulf the whole body. This is what God is telling Judah in Isaiah 1:18 that if their national sins were to continue, they would eventually be fully permeated with sin and God would have to bring judgment. Do you see the progression which God is warning them about? Though their sins be as scarlet and crimson, in other words, if their sins were cutoff now and they did a national repentance, then God would not judge them but if they allowed the red and scarlet sins to continue, then they would become a totally sinful nation as one who has leprosy in fullest manner and as you know, God did judge them by the hand of Babylon because of their failure to heed the warnings.


(Num 12:10 KJV) And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.


2 Kings 5:27 (KJV) The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.


Do you see the verses above and what is the common thread? Both Gehazi and Miriam, because of their sin, were both turned as white as snow. Now with that information concerning the progression of the disease of leprosy and leprosy representing an unbeliever in sin, now look at Isaiah 1:18, and you will now have the proper understanding.


(Isa 1:18 KJV) 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.


Isaiah 1:18 is also a warning to every person on this planet. We have all witnessed this verse in action. A person starts out with one alcoholic drink and winds up a drunk. A person smokes one marijuana joint and winds up on cocaine or heroin. A person steals a candy bar when they are young and gets away with it and winds up a murderer later on. We have all seen and many have experienced the destructive progression of sin and that is what God was warning Judah about and He continues the warning today.


(1 Cor 10:11-12 KJV) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. {12} Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.


Isa 1:19

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:


If they would be willing to turn from their sins and would become obedient to the LORD then God would stay his hand of judgment upon them and would turn Judah into a land of plenty and they would benefit from God’s gifts.


Isa 1:20

But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.


Now if they fail to heed the warning of the LORD and continue in their rebellion they shall be devoured or consumed with the sword which would happen to them beginning in 605 B.C.  The mouth of the LORD speaking it means that what he said will come to pass in either direction, either they will face the sword of the LORD in judgment or they will face the blessing of the LORD if they turn and obey him.