Bry and I are big pushers of understanding and knowing the Hebrew culture in order to better understand the Bible. Here’s another example…
In Isaiah 1 the prophet states “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson they shall be like wool.” The word we translate “crimson” in the Hebrew is “tola” which actually refers primarily to a specific worm in their culture. It secondarily means “crimson” and here’s how that reference came about. They would take this worm, kill and crush it, then place it in hot water. When mixed with the hot water this crushed worm produced an incredibly brilliant crimson color that dyed whatever it come in to contact with, and it was permanent. This is actually one of the ways they created clothing with different colors, this worm, so it was well-known and well-used.
Picture a white shirt covered with the reddest of permanent ink. You have no hope of its removal. This once white shirt is now useless, might as well be used for the rag pile or thrown out. Don’t we sometimes feel that way? Not always with sin; there are times when my sin doesn’t bother me as much as I wish it would. But there are those times when I shake my head and say “God, how can You even stand to look at me! I am filthy! I feel filthy! I smell filthy. I’ve done too much, gone too far, sinned too horribly, just give up on me!”
But God comes along and says, “it doesn’t matter how permanent, how strong a stain your sin may feel like and may seem to be. To you and to others your sin may be as red as crimson, permanent and staining all of you. But I am the God who is able to remove the unremovable stain. I am the God who is able to forgive the unforgivable and love the un-lovable. I am the God who can and does save you. And I have declared- though your sins are like scarlet and crimson you are white as the new snow. I have declared you clean, therefore you are.”
No matter how we feel, now matter how dirty we may look to the world, no matter how well-used and abused others see us as – the Lord of the Universe declares us clean and new. May we listen to His truth and believe His words over even our own.