Seeing red

Today’s verse is Isaiah 1:18.

18 “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.

Do you know how hard it is to wash the color out of fabric? I mean, it can be done. But no matter how much you bleach it and bleach it, some of that color remains. You can always still tell that it always used to be one color and now it’s not anymore.

I have always found it interesting that Scripture has used colors to identify people and actions and emotions and ranks. Of course, since Scripture started it, literary folks picked up on it. The best example I can think of at the moment is Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter (which is fantastic, by the way).

Colors always mean something to us. Sometimes they can stir patriotism. They can make us sad. They can make us happy or feel at peace. They can bother us.

I remember watching a behind-the-scenes featurette on The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan’s first movie (which is also fantastic, by the way). But he used the color red to signify that something important or shocking was going to happen in the movie. Whenever you saw red in a scene, you could expect that something unusual was going to happen — mainly because red is one of those colors that people react to noticeably.

The color red can mean so many different things. It’s used for passion and romance. It’s used for hate and anger. It’s used to represent the supernatural sometimes. And in some cases, like our own American Flag, it’s used to represent the blood that people spilled to make our country what it is.

In this verse, red means sin. And I think it’s interesting that a color that has so much emotional baggage is what Scripture has always used to represent sin. I’ve always wondered why. Because red is striking. It’s shocking. It’s blinding sometimes. And it’s really really hard to turn to white because even if you bleach it, oftentimes it’ll just turn pink.

But this verse says that God is able to take something that is red and turn it white, completely white. So white that it’s like snow.

If you want to be scientific about it, white is a color that is created when all other visible colors are reflected. White is the combination of all seven colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet (indigo used to be in there but people say that it’s not a color . . . I don’t know, though). White is the reflection of all color and Black is the absorption of all color.

The symbolism there is amazing.

But in any case, only God could take something that is completely and totally red and make it white. And not just a pink-hued white. True white. Truly clean. Maybe you could say God is the ultimate stain remover.

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