Isaiah 6:1-7:25; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33;
Psalm 54:1-7; Proverbs 23:1-3
Many years ago, my husband and I were part of a small start-up church with a group of dedicated believers. It is not easy to start a church from the ground up. There are many small and mundane tasks that must be shared by the group as it seeks to reach out to the community. Within our core group was a couple in their mid-fifties named Byron and Lynda. They were originally from the South and brought great personality to the group. One of the phrases that we would all laugh at was Byron's joke about his marriage to Lynda. Byron would always sum up their spiritual life together by saying, "Our relationship goes something like this...Here am I, Lord...send Lynda!" Each of us have felt like Byron if the truth were to be told. Each of us have probably had times where we did not wish to be God's messenger. That is not the case with Isaiah, today.
Isaiah's reaction is to recognize his doom as a sinful man before a holy God. He is in a dilema. He has seen God and this vision has revealed to Isaiah that his sinfulness deserves death. One of the seraphim flies to Isaiah with a burning coal that it touches to Isaiah's mouth. The seraphim declares that Isaiah's sins are forgiven by this act. For you and me, this burning coal is a picture of the future work of Jesus Christ. Jesus' work of dying on the cross acts as a burning fire that purifies our souls.
The Lord asks, "Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?" Notice that God calls Himself "us." This is another Scriptural indication that God is found in the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah steps forward, once cleansed of his sin, and says, "Here I am. Send me." Isaiah has the heart of a true prophet. He was made for this moment.
God immediately lets Isaiah know that he will go to a people who will not listen to his message. They will have hard hearts, blind eyes and deaf ears. What would you do if God told you this? Would you decline the invitation to speak to others about the truth of God? We learn an important lesson here about being a prophet of God. One who speaks forth the truth of God is compelled to do so, even if his/her audience is not interested in the message. God desires for His truth to go forth in His universe as a means of glorifying Him as the Creator. Speaking forth truth is not validated because someone believes what has been said. It is valid because God deems that it is valid. He is glorified by the speaking of truth, whether or not anyone believes it. Isaiah has been warned and taught by God about this.
Isaiah learns that his prophecies will continue until the Southern Kingdom is taken into captivity. God describes them as becoming a stump of a tree. Although as stump is cut down, it has the capacity to grow again. The nation of Israel is described in verse 13 as a stump that has a holy seed that will grow again. From our perspective, we know that Jesus Christ is that holy seed. It is His life, death and resurrection that produce a mighty tree of believers in God. Christ is the root of God's family tree.
Isaiah is next called to assure King Ahaz that the Syrian King Rezin, who has allied himself with the Northern Kingdom King Pekah, will not be able to overthrow Jerusalem as they are hoping to do. God challenges King Ahaz to ask for a sign that this prophecy will occur. Ahaz, in false piety, acts like he does not need a sign from God. Exasperated with this obvious hypocrisy, Isaiah prophesies about the virgin birth of Christ. I will quote this in a minute, but let's talk about why this prophecy is given as proof that God would preserve Jerusalem under Ahaz. Isaiah is used by God to begin to establish for the nation of Israel that the foundation for all that God is going to do through them hinges on the birth of the Messiah, through whom the whole world will be blessed. God is giving proof that Jesus Christ is the foundation for all promises in the Bible. Jesus is Truth. Here is Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 7:14-16,
"The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel-'God with us.' By the time this child is old enough to eat curds and honey, he will know enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong. But before he knows right from wrong, the two kings you fear so much- the kings of Aram and Israel will both be dead."We find the fulfillment of this Scripture in Matthew 1:18-23 and part of this passage is quoted by the angel when the angel explains to Joseph that Mary is with child, but is a virgin. We will see many more prophesies about Jesus in the book of Isaiah.
I sure am glad that Isaiah offered to be a messenger of God's truth and that God was willing to forgive Isaiah's sins so that he could do just that!
Have you had your sins cleansed by the purifying work of Jesus Christ? Are you a willing messenger of truth to those around you? Does the fact that some people do not believe the truth stop you from sharing?
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
Paul is a willing messenger like the prophet Isaiah. Today, Paul will prove that he is willing to tell the truth of Christ, even in the face of certain death. Paul is going to prove that he is a worthy apostle of God. Paul is determined to show the Corinthians that they should be following his teachings about God. Today, Paul "brags" about his work for God. Here is his list of works:
- He is a Hebrew and Israelite, a descendant of Abraham Vs. 22
- Paul has worked for Christ harder, been put in jail more often, and has been beaten without number. He has also faced death for Christ. Vs. 23
- Five times the Jews gave him 39 lashes (this is the maximum they could give) Vs. 24
- Three times he was beaten by rods. Vs. 25
- Once he was stoned. Vs. 25
- Three times he was shipwrecked. Vs. 25
- He spent one whole day and night adrift at sea. Vs. 25
- Faced dangers in travel from flooded rivers and thieves. Vs. 26
- Faced dangers from both Jews and Gentiles. Vs. 26
- Faced dangers from cities, deserts and stormy seas. Vs. 26
- Faced dangers from Christians who were not really Christians, at all. Vs. 26
- Lived with weariness, pain and sleepless nights. Vs. 27
- Been hungry and thirsty and gone without food. Vs. 27
- Been in the cold without enough clothing. Vs. 27
- Had feelings of sorrow and worry in empathy for those he ministered to. Vs. 28
- Escaped from a Syrian king by being lowered from a basket over the city wall. Vs. 32-33
Are you willing to suffer for Truth?
Here is a psalm about being attacked by people who do not care for God. How appropriate.
Do not trust those in power.
What did you learn today? Please share.