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16 Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean.
    Remove your evil actions from my sight
    and stop sinning![a]
17 Learn what it means to do what is good
    by seeking righteousness and justice!
    Rescue the oppressed.[b] Uphold the rights of the fatherless
    and defend the widow’s cause.[c]
18 Come now and let’s deliberate over the next steps to take together.[d]
    Yahweh promises you over and over:[e]
    “Though your sins stain you like scarlet,[f]
    I will whiten them like bright, new-fallen snow!
    Even though they are deep red like crimson,[g]
    they will be made white like wool!”[h]

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  1. Isaiah 1:16 This was also the message of John the Baptizer (Matt. 3:8).
  2. Isaiah 1:17 Or “Vindicate the victim.”
  3. Isaiah 1:17 See Ps. 9:18; Isa. 58:7; Jer. 22:16; James 1:27.
  4. Isaiah 1:18 Or “Come now and let us argue it out together.” This is taken from the Hebrew word yākah, which has clear judicial overtones with an implication of a verdict in court.
  5. Isaiah 1:18 Instead of pronouncing judgment to the guilty, Judge-Yahweh, in his grace and mercy, offers complete forgiveness.
  6. Isaiah 1:18 The Hebrew for “scarlet” is taken from a root word for “double (dyed)” or “twice (dipped in scarlet dye),” making a permanent color.
  7. Isaiah 1:18 The word for “crimson” (Heb. tola) is also the word for a worm that, when crushed, bleeds a deep crimson color and is then used to dye fabric a permanent color. Jesus called himself a “worm (tola)” while on the cross, as one who was crushed and bleeding crimson blood. See Ps. 22:6.
  8. Isaiah 1:18 Snow and wool are both naturally white. The Lord will not only deal with our outward sins but he will cleanse our nature, changing us from the inside out. Grace includes full amnesty.