Isaiah 6-8 and Psalm 98
The reading today covers a lot of territory: Isaiah’s call to ministry, the infamous prophecy about the birth of Jesus and the warning to trust God above all others.
Isaiah’s ministry to the southern kingdom came at a time when the northern kingdom, a huge number of Israelites, was swept away into exile. Isaiah 6:1 pinpoints the date, “In the year that King Uzziah died,” to give us some perspective of the time in history. King Uzziah (Azariah) ruled the southern kingdom (from 792 to 740 BC) while Jeroboam II ruled the northern kingdom before the Assyrian invasions began (734 and 722 BC).
Isaiah’s call to ministry begins with a vision of God in his throne room; complete submission to the Creator:
“Woe to 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.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the 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.” 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!”
I’ve heard this preached many times. The awe and wonder of the Lord of all that takes away the sin of the world. Incredibly amazing. I pray that my response would be like that of Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!” Next week, thousands of pastors and supporting ministries will gather at Exponential and no doubt hundreds will hear the call and answer, “Send me” to plant a church, to expand Christ’s church on earth. Many churches will be birthed as a result. It’s an exciting time!
God sent Isaiah to advise Ahaz (Uzziah’s grandson) that the invading forces would fail, those who said, “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” (Isaiah 7:6). The Lord provided this answer:
“‘It will not take place,
it will not happen
The text suddenly switches from a contemporary issue to the future:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.
The Remnant, a consistent theme throughout the prophets, ties the old with the new, the ancient with the contemporary. It also provides a warning that perhaps the masses are not right in their thinking. Following the crowds is obviously not always the best idea; careful consideration is required, great discernment is needed.
And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
The ways of the world seem right to many, but they don’t often have a clue. The shocking news, not surprising, is often wrong:
This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me,
warning me not to follow the way of this people:
“Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
The call to look to God is the key, to lean on the prompting and teaching of the Spirit is more important than those who shout on the street corners or publish news to sell ads. Focus on God’s word, his teaching.