A Prophet Ahead of His Time

Isaiah 6

During the month of July, we will take a few opportunities to focus on the prophet Isaiah and some of his most well-remembered and influential chapters in his book. We begin this week with Isaiah 6.

Isaiah is perhaps the most well-known of the biblical prophets for whom an entire book in the Bible is written. Isaiah’s prophecies (and perhaps even some of his students prophecies) are contained in one of the longest books in our Bible. And many of Isaiah’s prophecies are well-known to us who profess to follow Jesus, even if we couldn’t tell you where in Isaiah it is located or even that Isaiah is the originator of that particular statement.

For example, Isaiah is one of two biblical prophets who is quoted as having prophesied:

  • “They will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war.” (Isaiah 2:4)

Isaiah is also famous for preaching:

  • “Youths will become tired and weary, young men will certainly stumble; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)

And there are many, many more.

Jesus and the other new Testament figures quoted Isaiah often. It was a book and a person whom they looked upon as containing wisdom and a key to unlocking what was taking place in Jesus’ life, ministry, and death/resurrection as well as in the early life of the church.

But Isaiah was originally written to a group of people who were not looking for God’s future. They were not interested in knowing how to unlock what God was doing in their midst. In fact, Isaiah’s ministry was primarily going to be a failure. When God calls Isaiah in Isaiah 6, we are amazed to read Isaiah’s response to God’s call on his life. However, God also tells Isaiah that he will be prophesying to blind eyes, deaf ears, and closed minds.

Take a moment and read Isaiah 6.

There are at least 3 extremely notable items to note here in this chapter.

  1. The heavenly scene
  2. Isaiah’s humility and cleansing
  3. God’s instructions to Isaiah

As chapter 6 begins, we get a glimpse into the heavenly realm and see a scene begin to unfold with angelic, winged creatures shouting and singing God’s praises. It is a truly amazing vision that Isaiah has and shares in his prophecies. The grandeur of the situation should not be overlooked, nor the worship and glory that is given to God.

Immediately upon witnessing this, Isaiah responds in humility before God. He is a man of unclean lips, but God will cleanse Isaiah in preparation for the calling that Isaiah will answer. Isaiah’s mouth is cleansed by a glowing coal that had previously been upon the altar of worship. This coal physically and symbolically cleanses Isaiah and prepares him to be able to speak to his fellow people of God’s future.

And as we continue to read the chapter, we might expect that Isaiah would now be commissioned to bring his people back to God. That Isaiah would be successful in his endeavors to leading the people to repentance! However, this is not what will happen. Instead, Isaiah’s words will largely be ignored and unheeded. And God will respond to the unresponsive with judgment. 

These are important lessons for us to learn as followers of Jesus today and worshippers of God. All three of these notable events should stir within us a response:

  1. Worship of God
  2. Humility before the throne of God/acceptance of God’s forgiveness
  3. An attuned ear to hear God’s message for us today and preparation to follow God as Isaiah does, not as Israel fails to do.

This week, let us be ready to worship, humble in spirit, and ready to respond to God’s call.