Don’t be troubled by the timing of this reading. There are many who question why Isaiah’s commissioning doesn’t take place in Chapter 1. Is it a flashback? Is it out of order? Does Isaiah have a second calling? We can speculate all day long and read all sorts of commentaries. For me, I accept it as what it is supposed to be. It reminded me of watching a YouTube video. They always grab you in the first minute or two with something bold and eye catching. Then a few minutes in, there will be a break for introductions, intentions, and a bit of promotion. Then it’s back to the meat of the message. Following this pattern, Chapter 7 and following will be amazing!
We should truly savor Isaiah’s vision for the beauty and message it gives us as our focus for today. Isaiah saw the Lord! We get a glimpse into the majesty of the throne room of God. Isaiah heard these words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.” God is indeed holy. To be in the presence of his holiness was a privilege. Then it dawned on Isaiah what was happening.
Isaiah exclaimed, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man.” He was acutely aware of his limitations. Surely death would follow for having been in the presence of God! God could surely see every one of his shortcomings. Imagine how you would feel. The holiness of God means perfection, purity, and being set apart from sin. There was a stark contrast then, and Isaiah felt exposed.
God had great plans for Isaiah whether Isaiah knew it or not. To cleanse Isaiah from his sinfulness and ready him for service, one of the seraphim used a hot coal to touch Isaiah’s lips. Imagine the searing pain! Yet this painful cleansing was what God used in that moment to grant forgiveness for Isaiah’s sinfulness. Only then would Isaiah be prepared and ready to do what he was about to volunteer for.
How did Isaiah respond? When he heard the Lord speak, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” Whether we see that as impulsive or not doesn’t matter. Isaiah, in that moment, had been redeemed, and he was all in for service. What does it take for us to be ready to jump up and say, “Here I am, God, use me!”? Take a moment to reflect on what you are feeling right now when you think of being used by God.
I loved Isaiah’s enthusiasm and boldness. At first, he didn’t even know what his mission would be. That didn’t matter. He was ready. He didn’t even ask for instructions on how to accomplish his mission. All he wanted to know was “how long will this go on?” I suppose he wanted to make sure he cleared his calendar and was ready to dedicate the necessary time. God answered the question, but the amount of time was still unclear. On the other hand, the final outcome and expectations were painfully clear.
What do you think Isaiah was thinking at God’s response? Did he feel capable? Was he afraid? He didn’t have to wonder what people would think. God already told him that nobody would listen. The destruction of the people would happen because of how their hearts had hardened. The people had drifted far from God, and God was ready to bring an end to them. Yet, God wanted Isaiah to proclaim his messages to touch the remnant that would remain.
This chapter ends with a promise. God is not going to annihilate his people. “But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.” Israel will remain a stump that will grow again. I have a beautiful image of this. We have a humungous stump in our yard, but from it has bloomed so many smaller branches with leaves and flowers. From now on when I look at our stump, I will remember this verse and God’s promise to his faithful ones.
Let’s pray … Lord, I thank you for the stump blooming today. Like Isaiah, I pray you will use me to bring your message of hope to the people. We are living in some scary times, and many people are far from you. While we may not know what will befall us, we know you are right beside us, holding us, supporting us, and guiding us. May I be open to hearing your voice. Direct my paths. In Jesus’ name. Amen.