Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Isaiah 6

The call of Isaiah (vs. 1-13)—As I mentioned in the previous post, chapters 6-9:7 are an interlude in Isaiah’s prophecy, mostly historical, and much of which is Messianic. The year of King Uzziah’s death (v. 1) would have been 740/39 B.C. Isaiah would have been very young, though we don’t know his exact age. He certainly has a tremendous reverence and respect for the Lord. After he sees the vision of the Lord and an unknown number of His seraphim (angels, (v. 3), who pronounced the holiness of Jehovah, Isaiah announces his own unworthiness: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (v. 5). It’s obviously this kind of individual, with an understanding of his own sinful position before God, whom the Lord can use and will use. One of the angels took a live coal from the altar (v. 6) and touched Isaiah’s mouth; this symbolized the forgiveness of Isaiah’s sins and thus his worthiness of standing before the Lord and serving Him (v. 7). Then Jehovah Himself spoke: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah immediately volunteered (v. 8), and the Lord told him his mission. The message would mean nothing to the people who heard it because their hearts were hardened against it. The Lord knows the hearts and minds of men and if there had been any chance of their repenting, He would have known it and given them a chance. But the effect of Isaiah’s preaching would be to make “the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes” (v. 10). They were beyond hope, a tragic condition to reach. But they would be told God’s word just the same and thus have no excuse for their upcoming destruction. Poor Isaiah is informed, before he even starts, that he won’t be successful. He wanted to know how long he was to preach (v. 11), and the Lord told him until the end came (v. 11). If this is a prophecy to the southern kingdom of Judah—as it probably was, since that’s where the temple was and over whom Uzziah had reigned—then Isaiah would never live to see that predicted destruction of Jerusalem. If this is the year 740/39, then it would be over 150 years (586 B.C) before his preaching would finally come to fruition. The Lord certainly gave Judah ample time to repent, as He always does. And Isaiah certainly wouldn’t be the last prophet to preach to them. It wasn’t God’s fault that doom would overtake them.

But the chapter ends on a Messianic note. God never forgot the promise He made in Genesis 3:15 to redeem mankind from sin. That promise was to be fulfilled in a Savior from the Jewish people. Thus, a remnant had to be preserved. It would be a small remnant—the “stump” of “a tenth.” But that ”stump” would be “the holy seed” (v. 13) and it is from that seed the Messiah would come. We will learn more about that Messiah in the next three chapters.

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