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Isaiah 1:16

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Wash you - This is, of course, to be understood in a moral sense; meaning that they should put away their sins. Sin is represented in the Scriptures as defiling or polluting the soul Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 23:30; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 9:4; and the removal of it is represented by the act of washing; Psalm 51:2: ‹Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin;‘ Jeremiah 4:14: ‹O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved;‘ Job 9:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:22; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 7:14. It is used here in close connection with the previous verse, where the prophet says that their hands were flied with blood. He now admonishes them to wash away that blood, with the implied understanding, that then their prayers would be heard. It is worthy of remark, also, that the prophet directs them to do this themselves. He addresses them as moral agents, and as having ability to do it. This is the uniform manner in which God addresses sinners in the Bible, requiring them to put away their sins, and to make themselves a new heart. Compare Ezekiel 18:31-32.

The evil of your doings - This is a Hebraism, to denote your evil doings.

From before mine eyes - As God is omniscient, to put them away from before his eyes, is to put them away altogether. To pardon or forgive sin, is often expressed by hiding it; Psalm 51:9:

Hide thy face from my sins.

Cease to do evil - Compare 1 Peter 3:10-11. The prophet is specifying what was necessary in order that their prayers might be heard, and that they might find acceptance with God. What he states here is a universal truth. If sinners wish to find acceptance with God, they must come renouncing all sin; resolving to put away everything that God hates, however dear it may be to the heart. Compare Mark 9:43-47.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Not only feel sorrow for the sin committed, but break off the practice. We must be doing, not stand idle. We must be doing the good the Lord our God requires. It is plain that the sacrifices of the law could not atone, even for outward national crimes. But, blessed be God, there is a Fountain opened, in which sinners of every age and rank may be cleansed. Though our sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye, first in the wool of original corruption, and afterwards in the many threads of actual transgression; though we have often dipped into sin, by many backslidings; yet pardoning mercy will take out the stain, Ps 51:7. They should have all the happiness and comfort they could desire. Life and death, good and evil, are set before us. O Lord, incline all of us to live to thy glory.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Wash you - Referring to the preceding verse, "your hands are full of blood;" and alluding to the legal washing commanded on several occasions. See Leviticus 14:8, Leviticus 14:9, Leviticus 14:47.

Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 37.4

Truth is efficient only as it is carried out in practical life. If the Word of God condemns some habit you have indulged, a feeling you have cherished, a spirit you have manifested, turn not from the Word of God, but turn away from the evil of your doings, and let Jesus cleanse and sanctify your heart. Confess your faults, and forsake them. OHC 37.4

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 220

The condemning power of the law of God extends, not only to the things we do, but to the things we do not do. We are not to justify ourselves in omitting to do the things that God requires. We must not only cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well. God has given us powers to be exercised in good works; and if these powers are not put to use, we shall certainly be set down as wicked and slothful servants. We may not have committed grievous sins; such offenses may not stand registered against us in the book of God; but the fact that our deeds are not recorded as pure, good, elevated, and noble, showing that we have not improved our entrusted talents, places us under condemnation. 1SM 220.1

The law of God existed before man was created. It was adapted to the condition of holy beings; even angels were governed by it. After the Fall, the principles of righteousness were unchanged. Nothing was taken from the law; not one of its holy precepts could be improved. And as it has existed from the beginning, so will it continue to exist throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. “Concerning thy testimonies,” says the psalmist, “I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever” (Psalm 119:152). 1SM 220.2

By this law, which governs angels, which demands purity in the most secret thoughts, desires, and dispositions, and which shall “stand fast for ever” (Psalm 111:8), all the world is to be judged in the rapidly approaching day of God. Transgressors may flatter themselves that the Most High does not know, that the Almighty does not consider; He will not always bear with them. Soon they will receive the reward of their doings, the death that is the wages of sin; while the righteous nation, that have kept the law, will be ushered through the pearly gates of the celestial city, and will be crowned with immortal life and joy in the presence of God and the Lamb. 1SM 220.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 149-50

These are the words of God to us. The past is contained in the book where all things are written. We cannot blot out the record; but if we choose to learn them, the past will teach us its lessons. As we make it our monitor, we may also make it our friend. As we call to mind that in the past which is disagreeable, let it teach us not to repeat the same error. In the future let nothing be recorded which will cause regret in the by and by. 6T 149.1

We may now avoid a bad showing. Every day we are making our history. Yesterday is beyond our amendment or control; today only is ours. Then let us not grieve the Spirit of God today, for tomorrow we shall not be able to recall what we have done. Today will then be yesterday. 6T 149.2

Let us seek to follow the counsel of God in all things, for He is infinite in wisdom. Though in the past we have come short of doing what we might have done for our children and youth, let us now repent and redeem the time. The Lord says: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.” Isaiah 1:18-20. The message, “Go forward,” is still to be heard and repeated. The varying circumstances taking place in our world call for labor that will meet these peculiar developments. The Lord has need of men who are spiritually sharp and clear-sighted, men who are certainly receiving manna fresh from heaven. The Holy Spirit works upon the hearts of such men, and God's word flashes light into the mind, revealing to them more than ever before the true wisdom. 6T 149.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 630-1

“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” When Satan comes in to tempt you to give up all hope, point him to these words. Pray with David: “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way. The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” 5T 630.1

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Here are the promises, plain and definite, rich and full; but they are all upon conditions. If you comply with the conditions, can you not trust the Lord to fulfill His word? Let these blessed promises, set in the framework of faith, be placed in memory's halls. Not one of them will fail. All that God hath spoken He will do. “He is faithful that promised.” 5T 630.2

The work which you have to do on your part is plainly set before you: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.” The Lord declares: “The children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal.” “Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not My way equal? are not your ways unequal?” “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, everyone according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” 5T 630.3

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