Reasoning With God
In the first chapter of the book of Isaiah, we read in v. 18, “Come now, and let us reason together.” How often is this so misunderstood, as if this is God pleading with us to come to reasonable terms! Many would like this to be a negotiation, because surely God understands the difficulties in my life.
This could not be further from the truth.
Why does God say this in Isaiah’s first chapter? He does so because it has been clearly pointed out that Israel is becoming expert in hypocritical worship. God’s people are called “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” in vv. 9-10. They have refused to acknowledge that God is sovereign over their lives, their provision, their safety, their comfort, and their joy. He is their master, yet the people are behaving and living as if they never knew the God of their salvation.
In fact, the typical worship of Israel is described in Isa. 1:11-15. What is really frightening is that the behavior is not much different than typical church services today. They sacrifice properly (v. 11), yet God is “fed up” with all they offer to Him. He calls their offerings “worthless” (v. 13) and actually hates it when they observe all the required “New Moon festivals” and special holidays. Why is this? It is because they are “trampling His courts” (v. 12) when they come to worship and they embrace iniquity (sin) in the middle of their “solemn assembly.” Sound familiar?
When we come to church on Sunday, it is a burden? After a long and pleasure-filled Saturday night, do you wake up on Sunday and hope for a rainy day that will give you an excuse to sleep in? Do you not care how you present yourself at church because you don’t plan on meeting anyone that you know? Does attending church on Sunday give you the same feeling as going to a dentist’s appointment? Do you hate it when the pastor or (even worse) when the Bible reading speaks to a particular sin that you currently enjoy? Do you believe that God is just too judgmental?
It is to these people—the people of Israel who worship God according to their own pleasures—to which God is speaking. It is to people who find God a burden that God asks to “reason together.”
The word “reason” in Isa. 1:18 is not looking for a negotiation. It is the Hebrew word yakach, and means to “argue” or to “decide something in a legal case.” This is exactly the same word used to describe what Jesus will do in His Kingdom as He yakach “judges or decides” between nations in Isa. 2:4. When God says, “Come, let us reason together” He is calling Israel to consider their ways and actions and compare them to God’s instructions.
He reveals what they are really doing by telling them what they should be doing (Isa. 1:16-17). The people in Jerusalem were happy to have big sacrifices and festivals, and even long prayer sessions, but they were not anxious to apply God’s revealed word in their lives in their behavior, words, and actions in society.
Unfortunately, many Christians today do not know their Bibles, and do not what is in their Bibles. Many people read the Bible to get a “nice thought” or “comforting truth.” They don’t understand that the Bible is not a book of wise sayings, godly advice, or warnings of danger. It is a book that describes God’s history, and can be described as God’s personal C.V..
We read the Bible to know our creator and to discover our redeemer. We read the Bible to understand the truth about God, Jesus Christ, sin, the world, ourselves, and our nature. We read the Bible to understand that God Himself is so good, that He gave us His best—His Son. He redeemed us not just to be saved from judgment, but to be adopted in His own family relationship (which is the Trinity!). We are invited to have God’s cleansing, and to have God’s mind in truth.
In many ways, the Bible is like many of the books that you read today. It has a story line, characters, instructions, wisdom, wickedness, and more importantly—truth about life. We must read the Bible this way. We must read the Bible expecting that we will see the “big picture.” We must read the Bible that we will not just know about God, but that we will actually meet God in that moment.
When God calls His people to “reason together,” He is calling them to get their minds right and to see the right judgment. He is calling them to have a “reasonable mind” through His truth. He calls us all to see rightly, and to see with His judgment. This is “reasoning together.” God is not interested in our perspective or opinions in how to live our lives, make choices, and running the universe. He is interested, however, in sharing with us His mind and His purposes in all these areas. He desires to invite us into His world by providing us with His thinking.
When we answer God’s call to “reason together” with Him through the Scriptures, we are forsaking the foolishness of the world’s call to “follow our hearts” and the foolishness of believing the lie that embracing certain sins will make us happy or prosperous, and we are pursuing the one thing that is superior to all—it is the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). In this way, God will accept and glory in every bit of worship that we provide and will let none go to waste.
This is the voice of “reason.”