“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” (Isaiah 1:18)
It was December 1952. With quickened step he walked up the driveway, letter in hand. Instead of a stamp, the words “Postage Free” had been written in pencil. It was from his youngest boy. It was from Korea.
Looking over his wife’s shoulder, he read the opening words of the letter: “I don’t expect to have a white Christmas. All of the snow around me is red.”
It probably was an overstatement, but it still was disturbing. The soldier was telling his mom and dad that many people had bled within eyesight. No doubt many of them had died.
We usually think of black as being the greatest contrast to white. But those who have seen blood on snow might see it differently. The black in the white snow might be a rock or a fallen tree branch. Red warns that something terrible has happened.
It strikes us that the Lord uses a bright shade of red as a contrast to the white he is speaking about. The white is the purity of sinlessness; the condition he requires our souls to be in. This scarlet is the smear of sin. It is the mark of death.
Perhaps that young soldier did have a white Christmas after all. Maybe it snowed so hard in the hills of Korea that December that all of the blood was covered, and the gruesome sight of enemy dead lay out of sight. We hope he was given that Christmas gift.
But most likely more blood was later spilled on the ground around his foxhole, and the melting snow one day revealed rotting corpses. Snowflakes only conceal. They do not cleanse.
In striking contrast, the Lord tells us about something that doesn’t only temporarily cover up sin; it removes it. What remains is the perfection God demands. Ironically, the thing that removes the scarlet of sin is the red of blood. Not any blood; only the blood of the sinless Son of God.
Blood on snow is easy to spot. So is sin. With God’s perfect vision it makes no difference if it is night or day, winter or summer. A camouflaged uniform will not cover up sin any more than a Sunday-going-to-church suit will. He catches us red handed in sin.
But the God of grace and mercy offers a deal—a one sided deal. He will take all the sin away. He will remove it as far as the east is from the west. His words to Isaiah are to settle the matter. He declares a state of peace with the human race. The warfare is over.
No more guilt. No more shame. No more sin. No more death.
The scarlet stain of sin has been removed from our souls. It happened on Good Friday.
Because of the death of Christ, in God’s eyes, our souls are now snow white.
We can sing:
Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military