Isaiah 1:18 Meaning of Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet

Isaiah 1:18
“‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ 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.’”

Explanation and Commentary of Isaiah 1:18

After revealing that the nation could have been erased like Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa 1:9) had God not left a remnant, God goes on to promise and exhort a return to him. Their sins shall be cleansed if they will turn and begin to obey him. He is not satisfied with their religion, their sacrifices and new moons (Isa 1:13). He wants their hearts, and he wants them to exhibit his character.

What will be made more and more explicit throughout the rest of Isaiah’s book of prophecy is that God’s plan to make them “white as snow” involves him fulfilling all their religion with the sacrifice of his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Only by faith in Christ can one’s sins be cleansed. In the process, God would not only save his people, the Jews, but he will also draw men and women from all nations who will believe in him. His Church will be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the laws of God written on their hearts (Jer 31:33). God still cares deeply about how his people act and think. He loves us and longs for us to be like him.

According to chapter 1, God’s plan to make his people “like wool” is to move them to repentance, teach them his ways, and remove from them any who will not obey (Isa 1:28). This, being about the salvation and restoration of the world, will apply to his Church, currently on Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost. One day, Christ will return for the faithful who have trusted him and judge the world for its sins. In the New Heavens and New Earth to come, there will be no “rebels and sinners” (Isa 1:28). What will be left will be called, “the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City” (Isa 1:26).

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Isaiah 1:18

#1 “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord.”
God is ready to reveal through the prophet Isaiah what is the “matter” with his people and why they have been disciplined. God would not keep them in the dark, because he considers it just to make them know the cause of their affliction and the way to escape it.

#2 “‘Though your sins are like scarlet,’”
The wages of sin is death (Ro 6:23). Death means blood, which is why God mercifully gave his people the sacrificial system. Their consciousness was taught by the ceremonial law of God that it is a grave thing to disobey God and an affront to the structure of reality. Humans have been put on earth to pursue and create what brings life, but because of sin and rebellion, even God’s chosen, rescued people, the Jews failed again and again in this.

#3 “‘they shall be white as snow;’”
But, rich in mercy (Eph 2:4), has a way to redeem the world. The righteousness of God will be made manifest apart from the law in Jesus Christ (Ro 3:21), who has reconciled the world to God and cleanses us of our sins. His Holy Spirit will enable his Church to obey God in a way that the Jews, in their own strength failed to do. Those of them who believed Jesus were made “white as snow.”

#4 “‘though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”
This is a poetic restatement of the previous section. Isaiah is known as the most literarily skilled of the prophets.

Expert Overview of Isaiah 1-39

Biblical Translations of Isaiah 1:18

NIV
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” 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.”

NLT
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

ESV
“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 become like wool.”

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.”

NKJV
“Come now, and 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 as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.