“In the year that King Uzziah died” the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in His heavenly splendor. John 12:41 leads us to believe that it was the glorious Son of God that the prophet saw, the same exalted Jesus that John himself would later see when he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1). As it was for John, the experience was overwhelming for Isaiah. He was convinced that he had seen God, and that now he would immediately die. Why? “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
The Lord God Almighty as witnessed by the prophet was perfect in holiness and supreme in authority. Yet in this fearful moment God assured Isaiah that he would live. An angel took a coal from “the altar” in the vision. Out of that place of sacrifice came the only antidote for our spiritual disease. “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Not only would Isaiah live, now he was very eager to serve. The question that came from heaven was, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah replied, “Here I am! Send me.”
The job that the Lord ordained for him would not be easy. God would send him to a people who would not listen. This was in keeping with the Lord’s sovereign plan, “lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
The Almighty had a settled decree that included the disciplinary exile of His chosen people. The Babylonian captivity would take place in the next century, but several centuries further into the future the Lord Jesus would quote these words for His own day regarding those who heard His parables. Only the close circle of His disciples were granted further explanation as to what the stories meant. The crowds would be left in their ignorance. Jesus would bring a new beginning for Jews and Gentiles through His own death and resurrection. Many would not have eyes to see or ears to hear, but some would be chosen by God as the new assembly of the Lord.
Jesus would Himself be “the holy seed” coming out of the dead “stump” of Israel spoken of by Isaiah. From His unexpected resurrection life, a new company of worshipers would be gathered from the nations. People would hear the Word of the Lord preached by His ambassadors and would become the new kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul quoted this same passage from Isaiah 6 when he spoke to the leading rabbis in Rome in Acts 28:25-28. Though many Jews would reject their own Messiah, this “salvation of God” would be “sent to the Gentiles.” Paul’s prediction? “They will listen.”
We who worship the God of Israel through the eternal Son of the Father are now among those who have heard the good news and believed. We have listened to the voice of the Messiah in the Scriptures. Many have chosen other spiritual paths that can never lead to eternal life. We rest on the Jesus of the Bible and are committed to the proclamation of His Name as the only hope for sinners. His blood has atoned for our sins.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Holy and Majestic God, You are the Lord. You reign from the heavenly sanctuary, and You are holy. Our sin is made more obvious in the light of Your presence. We thank You for the full atonement which is ours in Jesus Christ. We have been set apart for Your purposes and are willing to be sent out for Your glory. Grant us strength from on high for the service to which we have been called. May we be faithful in speaking the truth by the power of Your love for Your chosen flock.