Let us reason together

Presidential Debate

It does not quite work this way when it comes to God and us.

Problems.

We all have them, certainly do not want them, and try our best to quickly resolve them. Some dilemmas can prove themselves to be short-lived, while others are seemingly on-going.

Investing one’s time, energy and effort into finding a suitable resolution can be quite taxing. What do you do when you have an issue that you desperately desire to see resolved?

Israel had an issue. During the time of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord’s chosen people tragically looked nothing of the sort. Israel was a nation characterized by sin and injustice, provoking God’s hand of judgment to come against it in the form of the Assyrians.

While Israel is facing the pending consequences of her actions, God expresses his desire to intervene. Isaiah 1:18-20 states:

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 like crimson, they shall be like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Any time I hear the phrase, “let us reason together,” I have my mind set on a discussion. In essence, I assume the coming together of minds in order to reach a mutual understanding or develop a solution to a problem.

This is not the case, however, when God speaks to the Israelites. Essentially, God’s reasoning with man is not a dialogue, but a monologue; “You have a problem, and I hold the solution,” God says.

God has offered provision to solve man’s sin problem in the person of Jesus Christ. By faith in his death, burial and resurrection, one is able to escape the condemning consequences of sin through God’s forgiveness and grace, and embrace life eternal through the earnest expectation assured by the Spirit.

John 3:36 offers, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

The paradox in the preceding passage echoes the sentiments of God’s word to Israel as penned by Isaiah. In both passages, there is the notion of choice—albeit right or wrong.

There are those who clam-up about the idea of Jesus being the only way to heaven, positing that there could not simply be just one way. In much the same way, there were those in Isaiah’s day who ignored the Lord’s plea for obedience, and forsook any possible consequence that would come as a result.

Because of the human desire to “have it our way,” we baulk at the narrowness of God’s solution to our problems, even if the result is ideal. This is often the case with believers.

There are times in our lives where we want our voice to be heard in resolving a dilemma, especially those directly concerning our walk of faith. We tend to take God’s call to “reason together” to mean that our desires are on the table concerning the direction of our lives.

I think that this is especially true when God is calling us to do something unpleasant. To speak for myself, I know that there have been times (quite recent actually) where I have arrogantly attempted to pull up a chair to the negotiating table to try and talk God down from his requirements for my life.

Most assuredly, negotiating with God is futile, as Isaiah 55:9 declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God’s bargaining table is too high for us to even reach. Our qualifications come far short of being able to reason with God. This is made painstakingly clear when God addresses Job:

Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! (Job 38:2-5)

There is no way we can contend with God. Our modest attempts to counter God’s solution with those of our own are without profit.

When God charges Israel of her guilt, he says, “I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you” (Isaiah 57:12). Not even the things that Israel did right would contribute to solving her problem. Isaiah 64:6 gives us further insight into this truth, stating, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

Because Israel was covered in filth, so also were its attempts at works-based righteousness. God’s proposal, however, is that they be washed from sin and yield their own attempts at righteousness and accept his imputed righteousness. Isaiah 45:24 says, “They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’”

Much like Israel’s attempts at righteousness did not prove profitable, neither is it beneficial to offer our opinion to God on how things should be handled in resolving our life’s dilemmas.

Proverbs 21:30 posits, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

The most prevalent reason why we should not even trust in our own plans is because if they are not based on God’s, they are susceptible to failure. Proverbs 16:25 adds, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Conversely, Isaiah 55:11 says, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Taking our promptings from God’s word is always best practice, because it is a sure foundation. What God purposes, he will accomplish, and he uses his word to do so.

When God invites us to “reason” with him, then, we need to take a posture of listening rather than putting in our two cents. God says, “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:3a).

As much as we become frustrated, weary or think that we may understand, let us gather our hearts and minds and sit quietly, while the Lord instructs us:

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2-3)

Advertisements

~ by christianballenger on October 17, 2012.

5 Responses to “Let us reason together”

  1. Lord, I’m listening! Awesome piece.

  2. The superficial notion that the bible dictator is willing to listen to reason and be rational is contradicted by this same defiant dictator’s condemnation of what he/it considers to be the mindless, stupid clay of “mankind” that has no right to challenge and be resentful of how he/it the dictator/potter has fashioned “the clay” to sin the way mankind does. This is like a potter condemning a pot for leaking from the holes that the potter, himself/itself put in it to begin with. How is a human being supposed to “REASON ” with an entity as irrational as this? .

    • I appreciate your honesty in expressing your views, and am really appreciative you took the time to read this post considering. I do think, though, that your views are slightly distorted by your disdain for God.

      The fundamental flaw in your argument is the claim that God fashioned mankind to sin. God’s relationship with sin is clear from Scripture. James 1:13-15 reads, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” This human decision to sin, made apart from the council of God, traces all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where humanity fell. Because God is just, his judgment against sin is just (Revelation 16:5-7).

      I believe your comment was a reference to Romans 9, if I’m not mistaken. Honestly, I have found this passage problematic myself. It does help, though, to reference Jeremiah 18, the passage that Paul makes an allusion to with the pottery metaphor. Verses 7 and 8 of this chapter read, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

      The fantastic news about all of this is, in actuality, why Paul even wrote Romans in the first place: the gospel of Jesus Christ! God’s intrinsic justice, coupled by his desire to have mercy on us, prompted him to send Jesus to be a propitiation for our sins . Because Christ bore God’s wrath against sin (Isaiah 53:4-7), we are able to obtain forgiveness by acknowledging what was accomplished on Calvary’s cross by putting our faith in Jesus. Consequently, Paul writes, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

      It is because of God’s grace that we do not have to be condemned. In fact, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). God is truly ” compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). God’s very nature and provision for our sins makes 1 John 1:9 a reality for those who are willing to receive his compassion, grace and love: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. “

  3. Great message!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: