The Prophet Series: Isaiah, part 3: Isaiah recalls his commission
Uzziah was a good king, despite his failure near the end of his career when he arrogantly entered the holy place to offer incense, a decision that left him with leprosy. He reigned 52 years. Delitzsch says, “The national glory of Israel died out too with King Uzziah and has never been recovered to this day.” Yet, since old King Uzziah is dead, God is not, and Isaiah receives a wonderful vision of God upon His throne.
ISA 6:1 In the year of King, Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
Good kings and far more bad kings come and go, but the Lord will sit on His throne till His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
ISA 6:2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
ISA 6:3 And one called out to another and said,
"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory."
God is holy. We can only approach Him through Christ and so we always do so in Jesus’ name. That means more than just saying “in Jesus name” in our minds or out loud. It means that in your heart you know that God could never be approached without the blood of Christ, which has cleansed us from all sin. We approach with boldness for that very reason, but we also approach with reverence for the same reason. Take every opportunity to approach Him in prayer in this way.
When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray:
"Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.’”
“Hallowed” is the Greek verb hagiazo which means to make holy or to sanctify. “Let your name be holy.” Well, God’s name is holy no matter how many people agree with it, but in our prayers do we set His name apart as holy in our own hearts, and if we do, we may continue in our prayer to praise that name and seek His help.
ISA 6:5 "Woe is me, for I am ruined!,
Because I am a man of unclean lips,”
The effect of beholding God is to make one realize his own unworthiness and the corruption of his own heart. Isaiah saw himself in light of Yavah’s infinite holiness. When Job saw the Lord, he cried, “I repent in dust and ashes.” When Peter recognized in Jesus the Creator of the fish and the sea, he fell at His feet and offered, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Standing before the praise of the Seraphim to the Lord upon His holy throne, Isaiah sees himself as he is, a ruined man of unclean lips.
There are other men in the Bible who had the same reaction.
Job: JOB 42:5-6
"I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees Thee;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes."
Peter: REV 1:17
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man.
Daniel: DAN 10:8
So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength.
Paul: ACT 9:3-4
And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground.
None of us are going to have a vision of the Lord, but we will see Him in the pages of scripture. If anyone thinks they have some merit towards God and by it may lay claim upon Him; they have not seen the Lord.
As we fall before Him in self-humiliation and awe, God’s love sends to us His redemption and comfort.
Job: JOB 42:10
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold.
Peter: REV 1:17
And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last”
Daniel: DAN 10:9-11
But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, "O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you."
Paul: ACT 9:17
And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Isaiah is lifted away from his guilt and comforted with a burning coal from the altar of sacrifice, a clear reference to the cross of Christ. Sin had been dealt with once and for all on the Lamb of God.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
We have both the singular “I send” and the plural “for Us.” This is a depiction of the Trinity.
“Who will go for us?” God seeks a man and thus chooses not to send an obedient angel as a messenger to Israel. It is through men that the love, grace, and mercy of God will be revealed, fallen men who need cleansing and help. The angels long to look into these things (1PE 1:12), but being unfallen, being without the need of help or comfort, being always obedient, they cannot know what it is to be saved. The long to know what it would be like to be the recipient of God’s redemption through His humiliation and death.
The word given by Isaiah to such a rebellious people will only harden, deafen, and blind them more than they already are because they will reject it. J. Vernon McGee relates the story of how as a boy growing up in Oklahoma, he had the job of milking a stubborn cow. In the early morning it was dark, and so he walked out to the barn with a lamp. When the light of the lamp entered the barn, he could hear the rats scurry away, yet that same light would cause the birds roosting in the rafters of the barn to sing. Light makes some things run away and other things sing. The light of God, shown unto Israel, will not be the cause of their hard hearts. It will only reveal it.
Isaiah will be rejected and scorned, but he must faithfully speak the truth of salvation and judgment to the people of Israel.
Life is ridiculed by those who don’t possess it. Love, joy, and peace are mocked by those who reject them. They believe there is another way. As they pursue their courses without God, they conclude that there is life without God since they don’t die or come down with a terrible disease. God is not slow as some count slowness. God is gracious and patient, wanting all to come to repentance. If every time they told a lie, a tooth fell out of their mouths, they would soon stop lying. If every time they cheated a weaker man out of his property, leprosy broke out upon them, they would soon be content to keep what they had. If God enacted such penalties then sin would be scarce to the visible eye, but it would continue to abound in hearts everywhere. And, added to this, anger and loathing of God would also fill many hearts even more so.
God is showing man how he may change his own heart by seeing and believing God’s love, righteousness, and justice. Seen and believed a man is changed completely, and in our age, he is so changed that he is born all over again. Yet, still plagued by the old man, we lay him aside (Eph 4) because Jesus has laid him aside (Col 3), and we wear the new man (Eph 4) because Jesus has clothed us with him (Col 3). Every believer has been elected before the foundation of the world, and God doesn’t make mistakes. Like Isaiah, we must cease to see ourselves as unclean, for through the fire of judgment that fell upon Christ, we are clean, and we must vigorously say to God, “Here I am, send me.”
How we are received by others is never mentioned by God as important.
Then He said to me, "Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. And I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children; and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' As for them, whether they listen or not — for they are a rebellious house — they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious.”
Faced with the solemn responsibility of proclaiming so unpopular a message, Isaiah cried, “Lord, how long?” It takes special faith and obedience to continue to preach to an unheeding people who are only hardened by the word instead of being softened by it. The Lord’s answer was that the message must be proclaimed until there were none left to hear.
His calling above all else.
Next time, the birth of the virgin’s son.
To Him be glory and honor,
Pastor Joe Sugrue