Sins like scarlet made white as snow

Isaiah 1 18

The Verse of the Day for October 9, 2015 mentions a series of similes, or comparisons using “like” or “as” that describe contrasting views of sin and allude the purifying process of repentance:

Isaiah 1:18 (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.

According to notes from Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible,

The rabbis say that when the lot was taken to select a scapegoat as a sacrifice a scarlet thread was bound on the scapegoat’s head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people’s sins over it, the fillet [A narrow strip of ribbon or similar material] became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified. . . . Hebrew for “scarlet” radically means double-dyed. . . .

We recognize that without repentance there is no remission of sin. With repentance, however, sins can become “white as snow,” and “white as wool,” that is, restored to an original un-dyed state of whiteness.

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day, two original poems came to mind, each relating to the two contrasting colors of the verse. This excerpt comes from “Red”: the closing lines of a free-verse poem inspired by a striking work of art painted in brilliant shades of red:


blood red


yes, Lord, red

Lamb’s blood


precious blood


blood-stained banner


like the crimson flow

that cleanses scarlet sins

and washes white as snow


Amen red


blood red

blood red

blood red

blood red

blood red

blood red

blood red

red   red   red   red     red   red   red


blood red

I said


The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offer a contemporary song of worship “O the Blood.”

The second poem actually uses the verse from Isaiah 1 as its epigraph or introductory quote to describe the snow covered landscape after an early morning mist responded to the rapidly falling temperatures as the day began:

Frosted Wood Scene

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,

though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18


The stark nakedness

of the dark bark

blooms with crystal leaves

Where death once reigned,

blossoms now flourish,

even as grace

did much more abound

and flower as

graceful almond trees.

I stand enraptured,

surrounded by

the fragile beauty

of the landscape

etched in a fuller

white than any

angel’s bright raiment.

The frosted wood scene

shows God’s design

to cleanse and make whole

the soul of man

that he might surely

know the pure love

that cleanses, covers

whiter than snow,

Lord, whiter than snow.

Listen to another contemporary song of praise: “Whiter than the Snow”

As I begin the day, these two poetic expressions come to mind while reflecting on the Verse of the Day.

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