And so we hit Isaiah, the first of the major prophets. I’m probably going to divide this up somewhat within the Kings and Chronicles narratives. I can’t guarantee everything will be exactly chronological, but as much as I can, I will.
In Japan, “sin” has quite a different nuance when used by the Japanese people. It basically means crime, like murder, theft, rape, and the like.
So when the Japanese hear in the church that they are sinners, most probably think to themselves, “Not me. I don’t murder or rape anyone. I don’t steal anything.”
Even in western countries, people tend to think the same way. “I’m not really that bad.”
But what is sin according to God? He lays it out right here.
“I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his master’s manger, but Israel doesn’t know, my people do not understand. Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” (2-4)
1. Sin is rebellion against God. It’s knowing that God exists, and that he is our rightful king, but putting ourselves on the throne instead. Put another way, it’s saying no to God and his ways.
2. Sin is doing what is evil. This is what usually is understood as sin. But actually, this is the symptom of the real problem. The real problem is a heart that has rebelled against God. And it’s because people have rebelled against God, that they commit all the other things we call sin.
3. Sin is forsaking the Lord, spurning him, and turning our backs on him. In short, it’s saying, “God I don’t need you in my life.” You may not commit murder, rape anyone, or commit any other crimes. But when we turn our backs on God and say, “I don’t need you,” then you are a sinner in God’s eyes. It is in effect, committing adultery against the one who should be your spiritual husband. It is in fact, the thing that God accused Judah and Israel of doing. (21)
What is the result of sin? It makes us spiritually sick and tears apart our lives. God told the people,
Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness — only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. (5-6)
Someone once defined “holiness” as “wholeness.” And in many ways its true. When we are holy, doing the things that God has commanded, our lives are whole. Our marriages and relationships work, our finances work, our whole lives work. But when we insist on doing things our own way, everything falls apart. Our whole life becomes sick, and though we seek a cure, we cannot find it as long as keep turning our backs on God.
So God says to us,
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (18)
How is your life? Do you see wounds, welts, and open wounds in your relationships, in your marriage, in your life? They will never be cured as long as you continue to live your own way. So turn to the Lord. Trust him. Let him wash you and change you. And you will find wholeness in your life.