The spiritual climate of Israel during days of Isaiah was at all time low. There was corruption among those in government; immorality among the religious leaders; and although the people of the land went through all the religious motions, their hearts were far from God. To a certain extent, even the prophet Isaiah was affected by lethargy of his day. But something was about to happen to Isaiah that would change whole course of his life.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PROPHET (1a)
v.1 begins with statement regarding the circumstances of the prophet: “In the year that king Uzziah died….” Uzziah was a Godly king. 2 Chr 26:5 tells us that “…as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.”
The tragedy was that in midst of his power & prosperity his heart was filled with pride. And because of his pride, God struck him with leprosy, and he was leper until day of his death.
It was in the year that he died that Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up. And having seen how God would humble and judge even a king for his sin, Isaiah saw what a holy God he had to deal with and he said, “Woe is me.”
The circumstances of our seeing God will vary. Something will happen that will precipitate a crisis and we will find ourselves standing before God in some new way. Sometimes it’s the judgment of sin that causes us to see God in this new way. Sometimes it’s a terminal illness, an accident, or a death. The variety of things God uses is infinite; but He will use circumstances to get our attention and to cause us to look up.
What are the circumstances in your life right now? Could it be that God is trying to get a hold of you, trying to shake you, trying to get your attention?
What is God trying to say to you through the circumstances in your life?
Notice what Isaiah saw in v.v.1-4 as we consider…
THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE PROPHET (1b-4)
Isaiah had a vision of God in His glory and he never recovered from the impact. The interesting thing that Roy Hession points out in his little book – When I Saw Him – is that this man had been a preacher before he ever had this vision. In fact we have five chapters of his sermons before he ever saw the Lord in this wonderful way. Now the question that comes to mind is this: “What was he doing all those years of preaching before he had this vision?” The answer of course is that he was working for God, and doubtless he was working very hard; but – and this is the tragedy – before he saw the Lord high and lifted up, he was a man working without a vision of the Lord and without a vision of what God wanted him to do.
One of greatest tragedies of our day is that so many Christians are content to live without a vision of who God really is in all His holiness and without a vision for what He could accomplish through our lives!
As Christians, we need to see that God is involved in every area of our lives. For the Christian there is no such thing as a difference between the secular and the spiritual. For the Christian everything is spiritual! Every decision we make, every word we speak carries a deep spiritual significance.
As Christians we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. We are to walk in the spirit rather than in the flesh. Christians cannot separate the secular from the spiritual because for the Christian everything is spiritual!
Isaiah had a vision of God in all His holiness and when you truly see God in all of His holiness it will have a profound impact upon every area of your life – not just Sundays! There may be things that you’re asked to do in your job that you cannot do. WHY? Because God is holy! There may be things that you’re tempted to say that you should not say because God is a holy God! There may be things that you’re tempted to watch or music that you’re tempted to listen to that you know you shouldn’t. Why? Because God is holy and His holiness should penetrate every single area of our lives.
Look with me now at v.5 as we consider…
THE CONFESSION OF THE PROPHET (5)
This is turning point in Isaiah’s life. In the first 5 chapters, Isaiah was busy pronouncing woes on everyone else; but now in chapter 6 he says, “Woe is me!” Why? Because when you’re confronted with the holiness of God, all you can see is your own sinfulness.
You see, when we’re really walking close with God we’re not preoccupied so much with the sins of others, but we see the reality, the awfulness, the ugliness of our own sinful hearts.
What is there in your life that no one else knows about? What are the secret sins that would cause you to be ashamed if you thought someone else at church knew? What is that one area of your life that comes to mind right now. DO YOU SEE IT? Do you see it in all its vileness?
These are the areas that God wants to deal with in your life. And unless you deal with them you will never progress further in your Christian life. You will know nothing of the deep things of Jesus Christ and you will live a shallow, superficial Christian life.
There’s nothing exceptional about Isaiah’s confession. It would be the cry of every one of us where we to have that proper perspective of the holiness of God. Because when you’re confronted with holiness of God all you can see is your own sinfulness.
But let’s move on to v.v.6-7 where we see…
THE CONSECRATION/CLEANSING OF THE PROPHET (6-7)
Isaiah was the best Israel had to offer but in God’s eyes he was as unimpressive as the dirty rags Queen Victoria saw one day as she toured paper factory in London. She saw a room filled with rags from city’s garbage and asked guide, “What are these for?” The guide told her that this was raw material from which the company’s finest paper was made. A few days later the Queen received a gift of stationary and as she held it to the light she saw it had a water mark that bore her image; and she realized this beautiful paper was made from rags picked up from refuse of the city of London.
That’s precisely the work God is involved in. He begins with the raw material. He takes a life that’s worthless and by His grace and mercy He cleanses it and transforms it into something of value that bears image of Jesus Christ.
As Isaiah stood before God, he was frightened, beaten and broken. As he acknowledged his need and cried out to God, v.v.6-7 says….
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
What beautiful picture of the altar of Calvary’s cross! There is hope! There is forgiveness! God wants us to see the desperate condition of our own sinful hearts but He doesn’t stop there. He provides healing and cleansing through the blood of Christ.
Robert Lowry wrote the words:
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
In the first part of v.8 we have…
THE COMMISSION OF THE PROPHET (8a)
The circumstances had caused Isaiah to look upward. His vision of God had caused him to look inward. Now having been cleansed and consecrated he is forced to look outward.
Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
After Isaiah had been broken and brought to knees. After the seraph had touched his lips and assured him he was useful. Then Isaiah heard “the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
God is constantly searching for men and women and young people and He is asking this same pleading question: “Whom shall I send?”
I used to think this passage applied only to those who were surrendering themselves to go to the mission field. But it’s not! It has application for every one of us.
The truth we need to understand is that God has a very specific plan and purpose for each one of our lives. And if our lives are to count for eternity then it is essential that we discover what that purpose is.
God’s will is not a secret! It is first and foremost a matter of the condition of the heart. It’s not WHERE you are or WHAT you’re doing; but WHAT YOU ARE that really matters. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification….”
If you want to be in the will of God then start dealing with those areas in your life that need to change. Purpose to become the man or woman of Godly character and the Lord will make clear to you What He wants you to do and Where He wants you to go. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them…” As long as you continue to develop the character of Jesus Christ you will continually have the guidance to keep in the will of God.
Notice with me now…
THE COMMITMENT OF THE PROPHET (8b)
Isaiah responded to the Lord’s call by saying, “Here am I, Lord, Send me.”
Isaiah wasn’t just playing with religion. He was deadly serious; and when you start getting serious about your relationship with God, radical things start to happen.
For years I played with Christianity and sometimes when I compare myself with Godly men and women that I know I feel as though I’m still just playing with it, but over twenty years ago after God dealt with my life through a car accident, I began to take the Bible and read it, and God showed me that He wasn’t interested in some kind of half-hearted commitment. He wanted total commitment, total dedication, total abandonment to His will and purpose for my life.
Dr. Alexander Duff said: “There was a time when I had no care or concern for the heathen. That was the time I had no care for my own soul. But by the grace of God when I began to care for my own soul, I began to care for the heathen too. And in my closet on my bended knees I said: ‘O Lord, Thou knowest; silver and gold have I none for this cause. What I have I give; I offer myself; wilt Thou accept the gift?'”
That’s what God wants – nothing more but nothing less than the total surrender of our lives to His will and to His great cause of world evangelisation.
Morris Hull, Home Life Ministries