Isaiah as a Young Man

I have long been intrigued by Isaiah’s calling. He had his great vision of the holiness of God, in the year King Uzziah died (in 740 BC after a mostly benevolent reign of 52 years).

Isaiah served God from about 740 to about 680 BC, so he was probably only a boy when he was called. This man Isaiah is a wonderful role model for any aspiring disciple of Jesus who wants to serve the living God over a lifetime. He was married, by the way, and had a least three children.

He was not popular during his lifetime. His public behavior, teaching in tee shirt and shorts, (20:3-6) probably resulted in mixed reviews in the Jerusalem Post.

Then the Lord said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory. And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?’ ”

Isaiah never received the Nobel Prize, nor a Medal of Honor from any king and probably died a martyr at the hands of his own people. The Talmud [Yevamot 49b] says that he suffered martyrdom by being sawn in two under the orders of Manasseh.

Jesus would say seven hundred years later,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

Isaiah 57

15 For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

16 For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made...

19 “I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord,
“And I will heal him.”

20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

21 “There is no peace,”
Says my God, “for the wicked.”

The shattering vision of God early in his calling, Chapter 6, broke his self will and made him willing to speak truth from God no matter the results. Radical but normative for anyone who is genuine in aspiring to serve Yahweh.

What followed is rather amazing,

Isaiah 6:5-13:

So I (young Isaiah) said:
“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;

For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth with it, and said:

“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”
(sounds like “total sanctification”)

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
(Us plural)

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me,

(Great response—not exactly how Jonah first responded to a short-term mission call to appear on Nineveh television, 786 BC).

And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

(Keep teaching the whole truth without compromising, Isaiah. They are not going to listen and well eventually kill you, son. You will be invincible until then).

“Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”

(Not only will they not listen but their rejection of Me will make them hard-hearted, resistant to truth and defaulting into idolatry. This is always is the main reaction to the truth, Isaiah. I will show you a lot about My Messiah, Isaiah. They will kill him also).

Then I said, “Lord, how long?”
And He answered:
“Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.

(They will ignore Me for years even after 586 BC when I destroy Jerusalem and take a small remnant off to Babylon for safekeeping for 70 years— about 100 years after you have come home to heaven, Isaiah--about 150 years from this day. So “keep on keeping on” young man).

But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.”

(There will always be a small remnant of true believers in the sea of apostasy, Isaiah. The preaching of the Word is not about social change but God calling out a people for His name).

Finally consider Acts 15:14-21, James speaking:

Simon (Peter) has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;

“So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.

“Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Note from Bryce Self

"What a burden for this most eloquent and evangelical “Prince of Prophets” to bear — to know from the very outset that his words would be enjoyed but disobeyed, and that his people (God’s People!) would be almost entirely destroyed! And to persevere in his mission for so many decades! What a man, and what a minister, who obviously preached not for acceptance or for profit, but for the Lord!

Isaiah’s experience was also an enacted prophetic foretaste (no less than for Hosea or Jeremiah) of what Jesus Himself would encounter. And Jesus was conscious of fulfilling the pattern demonstrated by Isaiah:

"He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’"

"Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."

The Acts 15 passage is apropos, with the understanding that the “fallen tabernacle of David” has reference first and foremost to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then, secondarily, and because of that, it applies also to the continuing stump-remnant of Israel and that People’s eventual restoration to the Lord.

Despite the clamoring din of gazillions of assertions from false prophets and apostles in recent decades, it has not one iota of anything to do at the most remote remove with the introduction of a “new” - or renewed - “Davidic” or “Hebraic” style of worship that will result in “an open heaven” so that the Kingdom of God may come “on earth as it is in heaven” due to the church’s efforts in this present age.

The application James makes is that the “residue” of mankind (the Church’s elect from among the nations) are now to be added to the believing remnant of God’s ancient Hebrew people to become the “tabernacle” of God on earth during this present age (just as Jesus “tabernacled among us” as the Word made flesh), until Jesus returns in great power and glory to personally inaugurate the Kingdom of God. “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God."

All that God has planned and done since before the creation has been toward that one ultimate teleological goal: “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” This is one of my favorite Scripture passages, and a largely neglected key to understanding the Lords purposes and doing through the ages, including the present.

By and large, the Church has lost sight of “the Gospel of the Kingdom.”" (Comments from Bryce Self)

Isaiah Chapter Six: Notes by Ray Stedman

We are studying highlights from the great prophecy of Isaiah "Isaiah's greatest hits," as someone has described them. One of the greatest is the well known sixth chapter, where the prophet is given a vision of the glory of God.

Some commentators feel that this event is what introduced Isaiah to his prophetic ministry. From the placement of the chapter, however, it is clear that it follows ministry which he has already had. In Chapter 1 we looked at his first message to the people of Judah. He had prophesied for some years of ministry during the reign of King Uzziah who is also called Azariah in the Book of Chronicles. Uzziah began his reign at age 16, and for 52 years ruled Judah. For the most part he was a good and righteous king. The record shows that he followed in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. But the Book of Chronicles tells us that when Uzziah "grew strong, he became proud, to his own destruction." He presumed to enter the office of priesthood. He went into the temple, taking incense from the altar of incense which he sought to offer before the Lord. Immediately he was struck with leprosy. He spent his remaining years isolated from the court, living the lonely life of a leper. This permitted trouble to begin in the kingdom of Judah. Ominous clouds were already darkening the national sky as enemies gathered around the nation. Chaos threatened as the young prince Jotham came into office. This is what Isaiah saw as he looked out over Judah.

But he saw something else as well, as he tells us in these opening words of Chapter 6:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory"

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1-4 RSV)

Beyond the chaos which threatened the land, Isaiah saw in a vision the God of order and sovereign authority, ruling over the affairs of earth.

Only occasionally does the Scripture break through the limitations of our vision and open up to us the unseen kingdom that surrounds us on every side, permitting us to see the true glory of God. Hundreds of years ago everybody believed that the earth was flat. As you look toward the horizon, of course, you cannot see any curvature; the earth does seem flat. People in those days thought it was possible to sail to the very edge of the world, and to drop off the edge, into what, they did not know. They believed only what they could see. Gradually, however, evidence began to mount showing that the world was round, not flat. Today almost everyone knows this to be a fact, although a few die hards still deny this. (One group even said that the moon landing was merely a television production put on to convince people that the world is round when it actually is flat.) Most know that the world is round, disbelieving the evidence of their eyes in order to do so.

Many people regard God this way -- they think he is flat and uninteresting. If he exists at all he is remote, obscure, mysterious, limited. He has little to do with the affairs of earth; we are left to our own devices. Since God cannot be seen with human eyes, he cannot possibly exist, they say. This passage and others like it in the Scripture, however, demonstrate that God is not flat. He is an exciting, majestic Being. Isaiah had opportunity to look beyond the visible to the realms of the invisible and see the majesty of our God. He saw God enthroned, "sitting upon a throne," the symbol of sovereign authority, in charge of everything in heaven and upon earth. A great hymn expresses this well,

Immortal, Invisible,
God only wise.
In light inaccessible,
hid from our eyes.
Most blessed,
most glorious,
the Ancient of Days!
Thy great name we praise!

This world is not, as some would tell us, stumbling blindly along, ruled by man, the most intelligent of the animals. Isaiah saw God, sitting upon a throne, in full sovereign authority over our world.

More than that, God was encircled with the highest of the heavenly beings, the "seraphim" ("the burning ones"), bright as the sun. Yet these beings were themselves eclipsed by the glory of the One they encircled.

Their characteristics are symbolized for us. Each of them had three pairs of wings. With two they covered their faces, a picture of reverence, of the impossibility of looking at the full glory of God, just as it is impossible for us to behold the burning glory of the sun. With two wings they covered their feet. The feet, in Scripture, are a picture of earthly, personal activity. By covering their feet the angels are testifying that their authority is a derived authority; it does not spring from them, but from the One they worship and serve. With the other two wings they flew, a symbol of ceaseless activity and swiftness in service. Thus the seraphim are an angelic order concerned with the beauty and majesty of the One whom they serve. They serve him in reverence and humility, eager to carry out his work.

Not only did the prophet see these beings, but he heard them extolling the greatness of God, calling to one another in a great antiphonal chorus, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." The thrice repeated word "holy" is a recognition of the threefold nature of God. It is a mystery which we do not fully understand. Later in this account the beings speak to Isaiah and say to him, "Who will go for us?" Thus even here in the Old Testament is revealed the plurality of God.

But these words also express the holiness of God. I confess for years I never liked the word "holy." The people I knew who were considered holy were grim-looking individuals who looked like they had been soaked in embalming fluid. They never seemed to have any fun or joy in life. But I have learned since that the word "holy" is a very wonderful word. It comes from a related English root, the word "whole." We all want to be whole, complete, with nothing out of order or unbalanced about us. That is how God is. He is perfect, total, lacking nothing. He is exactly what he ought to be. That is what the angels are singing. We admire people who approach in any degree this idea of wholeness or completeness, although we know how broken and fragmented is all mankind. But God, in his perfection, is absolutely whole "holy."

Further, the seraphim declare that God's glory is manifest everywhere: "the whole earth is full of his glory." It has always struck me as strange that in this universe of order and procedure men so often fail to apprehend the glory of God. The universe is incredibly vast. Astronomers tell us that even our own galaxy, our own little neighborhood, is three hundred thousand light years across. Light traveling at eleven million miles per minute takes three hundred thousand years to traverse it! And there are millions and even billions of galaxies like ours, and larger than ours, flung throughout the vast cosmos.

But when we turn to the minutest forms of matter, the atom, with its tiny electrons, neutrons and protons, we see a miniature universe, just as wondrous, with distances on a relative scale as vast as the cosmos itself. Think of the beauty and the order of the world of nature, of our own being, with our amazing capacities that far surpass those of the animal world. If only we had eyes to see we would know what the seraphim declare, "the whole earth is full of his glory." This is what led Elizabeth Barrett Browning to write,

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush aflame with God.
But only those who see take off their shoes.
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Isaiah is given a vision of God, wondrous in his glory, shining above the brightness of the sun, amazing in his character, praised by the highest of the angels, awesome in majesty.

Further, the prophet sees the effectiveness of the God who sits enthroned:

The foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:4 RSV)

The full meaning of this breaks upon us when we turn to the 12th chapter of the gospel of John, where the apostle quotes from the latter part of this chapter of Isaiah. Speaking of Jesus, John says these amazing words: "Isaiah said this because he saw his (Jesus') glory and spoke of him" (John 12:41). This One whom Isaiah saw, by the words of an inspired apostle, is identified as none other than the Lord Jesus, the very One who, following his resurrection, declared, "All power in heaven and on earth is given unto me," (Matthew 28:11).

But this vision of the majesty of Jesus reveals to Isaiah what we can only call, the malady of man.

And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5 RSV)

As he observes the majesty of God, Isaiah's immediate reaction is to see himself in a new light.

I doubt if Isaiah had ever thought of himself quite like this before. But to see God is to see man. Scripture says we are made in the image of God; thus to see God is to see ourselves. And when we see ourselves in the light of the greatness of God, we see, with Isaiah, how far we have fallen from that image. Seeing his own pollution, Isaiah cries, "I am a man of unclean lips."

Scripture frequently uses the symbol of the lips -- the tongue or the mouth -- as revealing what is in the heart. Jesus said, "The things that go into a man are not what defile him." It is not what you eat, what you wear, or what you read that defile you. It is what comes out of a man, according to Jesus: "Out of the heart come murders, adulteries, fornications, jealousies, envies," etc. (Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21). James says the tongue is but a small member but it is set on fire of hell (James 3:6). All of us have said things we wish we could take back. As Proverbs says, "Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks." This is what Isaiah recognized when he saw the majesty of God.

Notice he does not say, "Woe is me! For I am worthless." The Scripture never teaches that man is worthless. In fact, Jesus taught quite the opposite. He said what a pity it is for a man to gain the whole world and lose himself! That is how valuable man is. Even the world, with all its kingdoms, wealth and glory, is not worth the life of a single individual. What Isaiah does see and what he declares is, "I am lost. I am ruined, defiled. Woe is me." There is a moment of fear, a sense of failure, and a cry of despair as he sees how far he is from ever measuring up to the wholeness and beauty of God.

If you feel this way -- and many do today -- thank God for it, for God never uses anybody without first bringing him to an awareness of his own weakness. The pervading sickness of our day is meaninglessness, an inner conviction of defilement. Many find themselves unable to do w hat they would like. They feel powerless, unable to control their own destiny. All of us are faced with moments of truth, when we see what Isaiah saw, that the cause of our problems is our own inner defilement. When you see yourself in this way, thank God for it, for it can be the moment of healing.

A marvelous lesson that runs all through Scripture is that nothing hinders our being used by God more than pride and self-sufficiency. When Isaiah saw the majesty, the glory and the effectiveness of God, there came burning in his heart a desire to be used of God, to have a part in God's glorious work. Who does not want to have part in a highly successful enterprise? The great hunger of the human heart is the desire to be used of God. Even those who have given themselves to abusing themselves and others have within themselves a strong desire to be so used. I have seen presidents of great companies here in the Silicon Valley who trembled at the realization that God was about to use them to change somebody's life. There is no greater hunger than the hunger to be used of God. But when Isaiah became aware of that hunger, he also became aware that he was not fit to be used; he would mess everything up if he tried. This is what draws this cry from his heart.

It is not a pleasant way to feel, but it is a very hopeful place to arrive at, because pride is the source of all human evil. All the agony of life flows from our feeling that we deserve more than we are getting. We desire to be bigger, better or more noted than others. In the Bible, pride is the source of all evil. Humility, on the other hand, is the source of all virtue. The first of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount corresponds to what Isaiah declares of himself as he viewed the majesty of God. "Blessed are the poor in spirit [the bankrupt ones, the ones who have nothing in themselves], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:3). God labors constantly in our lives to bring us to this same awareness as Isaiah.

A few months ago a pastor shared with me that he had arrived at the place where he was proud and happy with all that was going on in his church. The church was bursting at the seams and they were engaged in a new building program. He was congratulating himself on the tremendous job he had done in the ministry. When he and his wife went on vacation in another city they went to a church to hear a man preach whom they had always wanted to hear. This man took for his text Peter's word, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble," (1 Peter 5:5-6). He listened critically to the message, analyzed its weaknesses, and thought he could have done a much better job of preaching himself. They went on to another city and visited another church the following Sunday. To his astonishment, the sermon was on the same text, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." He listened much more soberly on this occasion. The text came home to him in a profound way. The next day, he and his wife opened a devotional book and he was incredulous to find the text for the day was, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." He began to get the message. They both got down on their knees and confessed to God how proud and arrogant they had been.

My dear patron saint, Dr. H. A. Ironside, used to tell about a young Scottish preacher who preached his first sermon in a new church. The pulpits in Scottish churches are raised high above the congregation, so that the preacher must climb several steps up to the pulpit. This young man had just graduated from seminary, having reached the place where he knew more than he would ever know again! Bible under his arm, his head held high, he climbed the steps to the pulpit, confident that his message would lay his hearers in the aisles. But his thoughts eluded him, he fumbled and stumbled about. His notes fell to the floor and he had to regain them. Nothing went right. As he came down the steps, his head downcast, sagging under a sense of failure and guilt, a dear lady sitting right by the pulpit tugged his robe and said to him, "Young man, if ye'd gang up like ye cam doun, ye'd have cam doun like ye gang up!"

Yes, God resists the proud. What a contradiction this text is to the spirit of our age! Think highly of yourself, we are told. Believe in yourself; you have what it takes. The whole world is committed to the philosophy that you can succeed only if you believe in yourself. But Scripture declares that God works to bring us to the end of ourselves, to shatter the illusion of self-sufficiency. It must be done, before we can be used of him.

When Isaiah reaches this place, there is an immediate change. The next word is "Then" at that moment:

Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin is forgiven." (Isaiah 6:6-7 RSV)

How wonderful to see the gospel of forgiveness in the Old Testament as well as in the New. This coal was not taken from the altar of incense (which stood before the door of the Holy of Holies), but from the brazen altar in the courtyard, where the sacrifices were offered. It speaks of the cost of redemption, the cost of forgiveness. It foresees One who had to lay down his life that we might be forgiven. This is the glory of the gospel. William Cowper sings,

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins.
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day.
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

That is true not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but every day of it. We need each day the forgiveness of our sins. That is why Paul writes in Ephesians, "He has lavished upon us the forgiveness of sins," (Ephesians 1:7). Never begin a day without thanking God that the wrongs of yesterday are forgiven. You can begin each day with a clean slate. What a gift is the grace of forgiveness! When the heart confesses its need, then cleansing and commission immediately follow. That is the mystery of grace.

Isaiah heard the praise of the seraphim, and their thunderous song which shook the very foundations of the thresholds. But what did God hear? He heard the faint, fearful cry of a guilty man who was conscious of his terrible pollution. As David cried in one of his psalms, "The broken and contrite heart God will not despise." When God hears that cry, immediately a seraph must stop his worship, leave his place, and minister to that needy heart. Taking a coal from the altar of sacrifice, he touched it to the lips of the prophet, and at once came the word, "Your sin is forgiven; your guilt is taken away." This is the great, comforting word of the gospel.

Once again the prophet hears the voice of God.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And he said, "Go, and say to this people:

'Hear and hear, but do not understand;
see and see, but do not perceive.'
Make the heart of this people fat,
and their eyes heavy,
and shut their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed." (Isaiah 6:8-10 RSV)

What a strange message! But it only comes after a long period during which God has been seeking to reach a difficult and stubborn people. Isaiah was sent with a message that was to go on until the land was laid desolate.

Then I said, "How long, O Lord?"
And he said,
"Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without men,
and the land is utterly desolate,
and the Lord removes men far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains standing
when it is felled.
The holy seed is its stump. (Isaiah 6:11-13 RSV)

The message Isaiah was given was one of judgment. God was saying, "These people have so resisted my word, they have become so indifferent to it, the only thing that will awaken them is to be led into captivity in Babylon, and the land allowed to become desolate." That is not a result of the anger of God. That is his mercy. He is trying to awaken people who have turned their backs on the truth. This passage is quoted frequently in the Old Testament as a symbol of the stubbornness of men who refuse to listen to the revelation of the mercy and grace of God. But it is not our message. Our message is yet a word of mercy and grace, the word that God is still in the business of forgiving sins.

When Isaiah hears the call of God his heart is instantly responsive. By now he has believed what God said. He no longer feels undone and defiled. He believed that when God said he was forgiven he really was forgiven. No longer does he feel unworthy or unable to serve. He is eager to go, "Here am I, send me."

In seminary it was pointed out to me that, when many Christians hear the voice of God telling them to serve, they often say, in paraphrase of Isaiah, "Here am I! Send my sister!" (This especially applies to missionary work.) Such an answer reveals that they never have truly felt forgiven. They have never sensed the wonder and privilege of being used of God, the marvel of a call to serve people in need, whether a need of food and shelter, a need for knowledge, truth or love, or a need for cleansing and forgiveness. But that is what Christians are called to do. I often think of the words of Peter Marshall, "Many Christians are like men dressed in diving suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs from bathtubs." Much Christian activity seems to merit that description.

But Isaiah, responding to God's call, was sent immediately to meet the need of his people. God's word is, "Go." Something great has happened to you, so go!

Do not go if you have had no vision of the majesty and greatness of God, if you have never heard his voice speaking to your heart, if you have never cried, "Woe is me! I am undone." Unless you have felt God's cleansing and restoring grace, do not go. You will have nothing to say. You cannot help anyone by commiserating with them and sharing their misery. You must go, knowing you have what they need to hear, which God will speak into their hearts as he has spoken it into yours. If you have felt that, then you can say, as I hope you are saying, "Lord, here am I! Send me."


Thank you, our Father, for this marvelous revelation of your unceasing labors on behalf of mankind. Grant to us who have felt the touch of the cleansing coal from your altar that we should be like the prophet, eager and available to go. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Sermon by Ray Stedman from 1985: His Majesty

Series on Isaiah by Ray Stedman

Isaiah's Vindication

Wikipedia on Isaiah
Complete Book of Isaiah
Three Messages on the Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

John MacArthur speaks to the Ligonier National Conference, March 2021 on the Holiness of God.

God is Holy
Why Worship
Practicing Holiness
The Beauty of Holiness

Nothing has been said here about Isaiah's great book, a Bible in miniature with 66 sixty-six chapters, divided into two distinctive sections: Chapters 1-39 and Chapters 40-66. Jesus Himself taught there was one Isaiah, not two as some have supposed, because of the distinctive change of style at Chapter 40.

Isaiah died an unknown in his day. Someone preserved his writings. A single scroll of all of Isaiah was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, and is now on display in Jerusalem. The continuous 66 chapters helps confirm that there was only one Isaiah, not two. Chuck Missler noted that Jesus quoted from both halves of the book, naming the author as Isaiah.

This short introduction to Isaiah as a young man is intended to get you to read the whole book. Ray Stedman would say to his audience, "What are going to say to Isaiah when you meet him in heaven and he asks you, 'Did you read my book?'"


Handel's Messiah
London Philharmonic

Hebrews 11

11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sens

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented||

— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 

40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

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