Author: Ron Graham
The Three Words of Isaiah
—Isaiah chapter 6
The prophet Isaiah writes, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up..." (Isaiah 6:1). In the rest of chapter six, Isaiah speaks three times in response to the things he sees and hears in his vision. His words express the innermost and deepest feelings of every dedicated child of God.
These are words from the past that should live on our tongues today. If we would like to be people of clean lips, what better can we do than say these words to God, and go and tell his word to others? We are saying to God, "I don't feel worthy to represent you, but I am willing —use me Lord, for as long as you need to".
1 The Word of Humility
"Woe is me for I am undone" (Isa6:5)
The seraphim cried out in praise of the holiness and glory of the Lord. Isaiah felt his own unworthiness, a man of unclean lips among many. But one of the seraphim touched his lips with a burning coal from the altar and said, "Your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged."
This symbolises the pain of Jesus Christ to whom we may come for forgiveness. Our feelings of unworthiness should be of the humble sort, not feelings of hopelessness. As another symbol, the Lord’s presence and robe filled the temple. Even now the Lord Jesus is our High priest and Advocate in the true tabernacle (1John 2:1-2, Hebrews 7:24-26).
Although unworthy, so very unworthy, we have been forgiven, accepted by the Lord God. And we shall see his glory.
2 The Word of Courage
"Here I am send me" (Isa6:8)
The Lord was grieved that there seemed to be no one to speak his word to a blind and apostate people. But Isaiah volunteers, and the Lord accepts. We often feel overwhelmed in a world of ungodliness and ignorance. It is very easy to say, "What can I do? What difference can I make?"
Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). When God says today, "Who will go for us?" will we reply, "Here am I, send me"? Paul asks, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14). Will we reply, "Here am I, send me"? In fact he has sent us —you and me.
Notice too that Isaiah offers himself. He does not say, "Here WE are, send US." It's a personal and individual commitment. We shouldn't wait for others. Each of us has opportunities to go and speak for God. Spreading God's word does not require any major organisation, just individual willingness and effort to seize personal opportunities on a daily basis. It's easy to speak of "WE" and "US", because it shifts the responsibility away from "I" and "ME".
3 The Word of Commitment
"Lord, how long?" (Isa6:11)
There seemed to be a bleak future. The Lord God speaks with bitter sarcasm. "Tell the people to keep on hearing, yet not understand! Make their ears heavy, lest they hear and understand and be healed!" (Of course the Lord wanted them to hear and understand, but they were too stupid and stubborn, and he is chiding them).
What a parallel in Australia today: a land in moral recession, on the brink of paganism, worldly and materialistic, and in some quarters hypocritical and greedy.
Yet there are people here who will hear, whose ears will hear and whose heart will understand. We must help the Lord to seek and save such as these.
Isaiah was really asking, "How patient and persistent must I be?" The Lord replies that Isaiah should work until the end, until the land is desolate, for among all the despair and desolation there was the holy seed. Likewise we must press on until the very end, until the final destruction of the world (2Pet. 3:10-15).