THOUGHTS FROM ISAIAH

THE CALL

When we read through Isaiah we get a glimpse of Isaiah, the man. He speaks with great confidence in the power and authority of God. He speaks with great conviction about the judgement of God that is about to fall. He speaks with great courage against sin and hypocrisy. He dares to speak against God’s holy people. He dares to speak against God’s holy city.

And he speaks with great certainty about the salvation that is available to those who return to the Lord in repentance and faith.

Where did this confidence, this conviction, this courage and this certainty come from? How can a man have this grand assurance in the presence of God and of man? Why did he not fear that he was misrepresenting God? Why did he not fear that he was misjudging men? Who did he think he was that he was worthy to speak the word of God?

Isaiah had seen the Lord.

‘… I saw the LORD seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe fill the temple’ [6:1].

He saw God as a God of power, authority and glory. Never again would he doubt God’s sovereignty. Never again would he doubt God’s supremacy. Never again would he doubt God’s right to rule: he has seen the Lord.

‘Above him were seraphs … and they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”’ [6:2,3].

He saw God as holy – unique, set apart, one of a kind – and glorious, the constant focus of the praise of heavenly beings. Never again would he suspect that there might be other gods. Never again would he think of God as a local, limited god. Never again would his God be a small, ordinary, common god: he has seen the Lord.

‘At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple filled with smoke’ [6:4].

He saw God as the one whose presence impacts the physical world. When he is praised the earth responds. Never again will Isaiah walk lightly upon the earth. Never again will he contemplate the world of nature as something unrelated to God. Never again will he assume that his personal response to God has no impact on the world around him: he has seen the Lord.

‘”Woe is me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty”’ [6:5].

In the presence of God he sees himself and knows that he is a sinner. Never again will he think of himself as ‘good’. Never again will he think that God owes him something. Never again will he boast about himself and glory in himself: he has seen the Lord.

‘Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from he altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for”’ [6:6,7].

He received cleansing and forgiveness from God. By God’s gift he stands guilt-free in God’s presence. Never again will he fear God’s judgement. Never again will he experience rejection by God. Never again will he live under condemnation. Never again will he doubt God’s mercy: he has seen the Lord.

‘Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!’ [6:8].

He heard the call. And he spontaneously volunteered. Never again would he say “I am not good enough.” Never again would he look around to see who else would volunteer. Never again would he shrink from the battle: he has seen the Lord.

Lest we should think that this is just an old story, far removed from us, irrelevant to us, let us think again, for we also have seen the Lord.

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ [John 1:14].

This almighty, holy, forgiving God that Isaiah saw is the none other than the Lord Jesus Christ:

‘Isaiah … saw Jesus glory and spoke about him’ [John 12:41; read 37-41].

We, like Isaiah, have seen the Lord … exalted, holy, glorious. We also like Isaiah have seen the Lord – the Lord who has taken away our guilt and paid for our sin.

Let us also, like Isaiah, respond to God’s call with a spontaneous ‘Here I am! Send me!’

There is no other valid option.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014