Cleansing and Call of Isaiah
Isaiah 6 – The cleansing and call of Isaiah
The first five chapters of Isaiah have described the spiritual mess Israel was in. Isaiah appealed “let us walk in the light of the Lord” in 2:5, but they didn’t and the result is “darkness and distress; and the light darkened by the clouds” 5:30. The only remedy is God’s grace – so in chapters 6-11 we will see the awakening power of grace, starting with Isaiah himself!
Isaiah is being taken on a journey – encounter with God 1-4, confession of sin v5, cleansing v6-7 to commission for mission. Where are you on that journey?
He was a good king with a long reign. God had bless Israel, but they hadn’t handle it too well. Uzziah himself had sought God for a while, till pride too over. (2 Chron 26:5,16). His death was the end of an era – a defining moment to be called into ministry.
The real King reigns
Isaiah is worshipping in the temple, when he has an encounter with God that transforms him.
The throne room of heaven is a busy place filled with activity – the Sreaphim are described by Ray Ortlund as “living flames of nuclear powered praise”. They are in constant motion ready to do God’s will. Isaiah doesn’t say how many, but Revelation 5:11 talks of myriads (millions)
Holy, Holy, Holy is not just repetition, it’s emphasis – the holiness of God distinguishes Him above all else. It is splendid (Psalm 29:2), majestic (Exodus 15) and incomparable (Isa 40:25)
The foundations of the temple shook. When a jet fighter comes in low and fast, the windows shake. The temple shakes at the voice of one seraph – so don’t think of angels as chubby babies with harps and wings, but jet fighter breaking the sound barrier.
There’s shaking and smoke at the felt presence of God, which overwhelms Isaiah.
Isaiah is undone – he knows he is man of unclean lips in the midst of a people of unclean lips. He knows he is sinful and no better than any one else. He has stopped seeing himself as better than the others.
A seraph brings a coal with tongs, not because it is hot, but because it is holy. It has come from the altar, the place of sacrifice and atonement. When it touches Isaiah’s dirty mouth – it doesn’t burn him it heals him. The burning coal symbolises Christ’s death on the cross. That is the only power than can forgive us and cleanse us.
He can know hear God’s call.
God speaks – I need a spokesman. What silences us as Christian so often is that sense that God is against us and our sin. No he has forgiven us, cleanses us and wants to empower us to tell others.
Isaiah’s generation has had it v9,10. They are not going to listen to the prophet. His message will just harden their hearts further. Verses 9,10 are the most quoted of Isaiah in the New Testament. The early church was opposed because of grace and these verses told them why.
Every time we hear grace preached, we get a bit closer or a bit further away. Truth that softens some, hardens others. The message of grace is the aroma of Christ – 2 Cor 2:15-16 – the smell of life to some and the stench of death to others.
That’s not a fun call for Isaiah! How long oh Lord? v11. the people he will preach to will be devastated. They will be like a forest cut down to stumps. The ground will be cleared, but in God’s grace it will be cleared for new growth.
v13 The holy seed is its stump – there will be a remnant who are responsive to God and who will be used and eventually Jesus, the stump of Jesse (11:1,9) will come forth
What we all need is more of God’s grace. Fear having a hard heart more than anything else. Respond to God’s words of grace.
Pursue encounters with God, allow Him to change you and commission you to mission, filled with the joy and power of the Spirit.
Never judge a book by it’s cover!
“Isaiah God Saves Sinners” by Ray Ortlund has probably the worst cover ever in both editions but is an absolute gem of a commentary on Isaiah. easy to read and the best I’ve got in my library. It suits preachers and those wanting to devotionally read Isaiah!
Get it now on Amazon!*