From the Pastor
Questions God Asks: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
Isaiah 6:1-8 - History: King Uzziah reigned in Judah from 790-739 B.C. (51 years). He took the throne when he was sixteen. In his younger years, Uzziah "did that which was right in the sight of the LORD" (2 Chron. 26:4). But he became proud and confident in himself and defied God. He entered the Temple to burn incense, a duty assigned only to the priests, and was struck with leprosy. Uzziah then lived in isolation until the day he died (2 King 15:5). During Uzziah's reign, Judah experienced great economic growth, success over its enemies and strengthening of the nation's infrastructure. But there was a great and dark spiritual opposition developing deep within the soul of the nation that would eventually bring destruction to the nation.
Explanation: In contrast to Uzziah's defiant display of contempt for the Lord, Isaiah sees the Lord "high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6:1) having His glory filling the Temple. There were "seraphims" (6:2) above the throne crying out, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory" (6:3). God's revelation of Himself to Isaiah was focused on God's holiness. God is not common and He is to be udnerstood and be respected as set apart, high and lifted up from anything impure. He is without fault or failure. He is pure in morality, being and conduct. God is of supreme importance and significance. Even His name is not be used "in vain" (irreverently) (Ex. 20:7). He will not stand by idly forever allowing His name and instructions to be desecrated by human authority or subservient. Yet God mercifully loves mankind.
Application: Isaiah's own un-holiness and insufficiency is convicting and condemning when Isaiah understands God's holiness. Isaiah is faced with his frailty and his deserved and justified destruction ("I am undone"). Isaiah knows that God does not ignore sin and that in himself is only corruption. Isaiah's only hope is for God to forgive him and to have mercy upon him (6:5). To Isaiah's amazement, a seraphim took a "live coal" from "off the altar" (6) and touched it to Isaiah's lips thereby taking away Isaiah's "iniquity" (depravity, guilt, punishment) and purging his "sin" (uncleanness, offence). This is an example of what God does for each of us when we accept God as holy and admit our own un-holiness, insufficiency and that we deserve destruction. When we accept that Jesus Christ takes our deserved punishment upon Himself, God takes our "iniquity" and "sin" away, putting them on Jesus Christ on our behalf.
An appropriate understanding of God and ourselves stimulates an awe of God along with a conviction and sorrow over our sin. Seeing God as He really is and seeing ourselves as we truly are incites us to admit our desperate condition and deserved judgment. In addition, this understanding of God and of ourselves assists us to be more compassionate for the needs of others and of their need also for purifying. God's holy presence provokes us to give ourselves to God's service. It stimulates within us the desire to be used of God to go wherever He sends us and to do whatever He leads us to do. We may not understand His plan but we must willingly and obediently open ourselves up to His leadership. Unlike King Uzziah, we must be like Isaiah and, seeing God for Whom He really is and ourselves for who we really are, we must allow God to cleanse us and make us usable in His sight. Then we must willingly offer ourselves to His use.
Application: 1. Why does God ask this question? 2. How does God's question help us to better understand ourselves and our relationship with God? 3. What do we learn about God from His question?
(1) Israel Wayne; Questions God Asks; New Leaf Press; Green Forest, AR; www.newleafpress.net; 2014; pg28.