When God called Isaiah (#4)
|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!" (Isaiah6:8-10)
And God asks "Who will go in my name, who will represent me?"
And Isaiah, with his mind full of God's grandeur and his heart full of forgiveness, sticks up his hand and says "Me! Send me!" (In the original he uses an interjection that is used to attract attention which is often translated "Behold!" or "Lo!") If he were one of our teens he'd say "Yoe! Me! Send me!".
Then come the marching orders - and they're scary and unexpected.
He said, "Go and tell this people:
" Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."
Articles and books have been written about this call. On the surface of it, it looks like the complete opposite of John 3:16 (God so loved the world that He gave His only Son). It looks like God wants to get rid of Israel instead of saving them.
But one needs to recognise the desperate irony of this calling. Isaiah isn't actually making the hearts of the people calloused, he's simply going to prove that their hearts are calloused. For the next 60 chapters Isaiah will call the people to repent, he'll warn them about their wicked ways. He'll plead with them to soften their hearts and he'll promise deliverance and a the coming of the Messiah. He'll offer them hope and forcefully argue that there is only one true God. He'll peel off their masks and show them their need for God. He'll challenge them to be still and know they Lord their God and still they will stubbornly refuse to soften their hard hearts, leaving God no option but to let their rebellion run its course and land them in exile. In essence God is saying "Preach grace over and over and over again until it is utterly rejected."
It seems Isaiah understands his mission perfectly - he has only one question:
Then I said, "For how long, O Lord?"
And he answered:
"Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
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.
And here we see God's heart: "Keep preaching Isaiah, even when they have wrecked themselves and brought my wrath upon them. Keep preaching even when they have broken themselves in rebellion and sin. Keep preaching even when they miss their second and third chances. Keep preaching when all around you is crumbling and all seems to have fallen apart. Keep preaching because you just never know when a dry old stump will produce a shoot and grow into something new."
This is our God's incredible love and sharing His love is our amazing calling.