Enough with the generalities! For the next few months we’re going to be looking at different prophetic books and seeing what God has to tell us through them. Of course we’re going to start with one of the greatest, namely Isaiah. Perhaps his greatness can be discerned from the fact that the N.T. quotes him more than any other prophet. In fact, he’s the most quoted O.T. writer outside of the Psalms. He’s certainly the most prolific.
But how did he become a prophet? Did he just pick the job because he couldn’t find anything else to do? Did he take some aptitude test?
No! My friend, what’s true of the prophets is true for any would-be minister. My dad once told me “If you can do anything else in life, you’re not called.” You don’t pick it; it—or rather, he—picks you.
If you have a Bible with good study notes (I recommend the NIV Study Bible), then you might know that the King Uzziah’s death was a devastating blow to Judah, and likely a devastating blow to Isaiah. He must've thought that this was going to be a time of political turmoil and spreading injustice. He might've even thought that the world was spinning out of control, and that it seemed like no one was in charge.
But a vision of the Lord disabused him of that notion. Whether he was in the physical temple or not, he entered the true temple of the Lord which we rarely see in this life. He saw the majesty of the Lord Almighty. What was he supposed to get out of this?
• The Lord is on the throne of everything. Who’s on the earthly throne is not really important. You know the saying attributed to Harry S. Truman, “The Buck Stops Here”? People like to “pass the buck,” in other words duck responsibility. Truman’s slogan was meant to convey that he was in charge, that he and no one else was going to make the hard decisions that every good leader has to make, and he was going to take responsibility for them. With all due respect to President Truman, the buck didn’t stop at his desk. The Lord put him there in that position of responsibility, and God removed him from it as soon as his (God’s) plan called for it.
• He’s attended by angels as his servants. Mind you, as we noted several times, these are creatures before whom righteous men are tempted to bow and worship. These are creatures who need to reassure people every time they appear “Don’t be afraid!” And these creatures do not dare to bare their face before the Almighty.
• And what does God reveal about himself though the worship of these angels? He is holy. He is separate. He’s utterly unique in the universe. And the angels don’t just tell us he is holy. They say “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” This is important because the ancient Hebrews didn’t have punctuation like we do. They had no exclamation mark or italics or bold face. So they emphasized by repetition. Twice saying something meant it was important. To say something three times was the superlative; it was basically saying that God is the holiest of the holiest of the holiest.
You know what question I’m going to ask next, right? What does this mean to me? Well, what was the Lord trying to tell Isaiah through this vision? It’s a wonderful image of worship and it reveals the majesty of the King of Heaven. But why did the Lord show this?
Because in the days and years ahead, Isaiah’s calling was going to lead through some very dark valleys. He saw through his visions the destruction of his beloved nation. He was going to endure persecution which was par for the course. Tradition tells us that he was finally sawn in half by a wicked king. And in the dark days to come, he needed to know what type of God he was serving. When you’re serving a God before whom angels bow, then you can endure whatever comes.
Father God, please improve my vision of who you are. Holy holy holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of your glory.
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