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!” Isaiah 6:8
The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel…the LORD will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day… Isaiah 9:8, 14
Isaiah’s call story is one of the most dramatic and memorable in all of Scripture. The prophet is given an all-access pass into the throne room of God. Isaiah sees the Lord, surrounded by the great hosts of heaven, enthroned in all of His glory, speaking to His divine council. Fearing for his life, Isaiah cries out, “I am ruined!”–for no one was ever to see the face of God and live. And yet, God had brought Isaiah into this most Holy of Holy’s for a specific purpose. God was looking for a messenger–someone who would go to His rebellious people and warn them of the catastrophic consequences their apostasy would have. The Lord says to Isaiah:
“Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused….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.” Isaiah 6:9-10, 11-13
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure my first response to this holy request would be, “Here I am. Send me!!” In fact, I’m pretty sure I would have been looking over my shoulder for someone (anyone) else to take that job. God was telling Isaiah to walk into the places of highest power and tell the leaders of Israel and Judah that they were leading their people into destruction. God was telling Isaiah to speak out against the idolatry of the people–the pagan practices which had become acceptable in the eyes of society. This was not a message of peace and prosperity.
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. Isaiah 10:1-2
The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Isaiah 24:5
Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine…Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit…Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight…Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. Isaiah 5:11, 18, 20-23
Isaiah was calling the leaders of Israel to account for their corruption and oppression–for leading the people into acts of idolatry and for encouraging debauchery, greed and selfishness. Isaiah was speaking out against a society which had become godless and defiled to the point that the sacrifices the people raised in the Temple were no longer a pleasing aroma to God.
And yet, God’s purpose in sending Isaiah with such a hard message to swallow wasn’t an act of spite or vengeance. Rather, God wanted to remind His people of whose they were; of WHO they were, and of who He IS.
“I am the Lord YOUR God!” God says. “I teach you what is best for you. I direct you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to me. If only you had followed the perfect path I laid out for you, your peace would have been like a river and your well-being would be like the waters of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18
But the people’s hearts were stubborn. Their ears were deaf. Their eyes were blind. The message didn’t sink in. And so God was forced to ask, once again, “Whom shall I send?”
Blessings and Peace,