Isaiah 5-6, 1 Peter 2
…you yourselves like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:5 ESV
Isaiah’s calling by God was a remarkable event. He was given an up-close and personal glimpse of God Himself. The vision he received left no doubt in his mind as to the holiness and transcendence of God. In fact, Isaiah was so blown away by the experience, that he could only cry out, “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 ESV). The overwhelming reality of God’s holiness exposed Isaiah’s own sinfulness. He recognized immediately that he had no right to be standing in the presence of a holy, righteous God. When Isaiah referred to God as “the Lord of Hosts,” he was essentially calling Him the the Lord of heaven’s armies. Not only was God holy, righteous and just, He was the King of the universe who had power to go along with His position. This awareness on the part of Isaiah gives the sins of the people of Judah outlined in chapters 1-5 a sobering perspective. Isaiah recognized the perilous position of the nation as they stood before God. He was their King and they had been living in open rebellion to Him. Isaiah knew that he was no less guilty than the people. He had no right to stand before God Almighty. His sinfulness separated Him from God. But God took care of that problem. He had one of the seraphim take a burning coal from the altar and touch it to Isaiah’s “unclean lips,” pronouncing, “your guilt is taken away, and you sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7 ESV). Isaiah’s confession led to cleansing. In spite of Isaiah’s guilt, God extended undeserved grace. And what was Isaiah’s response to this unexpected and undeserved gift? He answered God’s call for someone to act as His messenger, saying, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
Isaiah was to be God’s emissary, bringing His message of warning and call to repentance to the people of Judah. God, in His mercy, was going to give the people of Judah fair warning. He would provide them with ample opportunity to repent and return to Him. They would not be caught off guard or unawares. Isaiah’s God-given message would be clear and concise, leaving them with no excuse when God’s judgment came. In chapter five, God had pronounced six woes or laments on the people of Judah, based on their sins. He accused them of greed, seeking after pleasure, willfully committing unrepentant sin, perversity, pride and conceit, and of having lopsided values. As a result, God would be forced to bring judgment on them. He would humble them. “Man in humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought now. But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness” (Isaiah 5:15-16 ESV). God would be proven completely just and right in bringing judgment against His people. He would simply be giving them what their actions deserved. That He would even bother to warn them speaks of His grace and mercy. That He would not completely destroy them reminds us of His faithfulness. God had made a promise to Abraham generations earlier, and He was not going to break that promise. In spite of the people, He would still bless them. But He needed a faithful messenger to speak on His behalf.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Like so many before Him, Isaiah was not chosen because he was perfect of sinless. There was nothing about Isaiah that made him the perfect candidate for this assignment. All he brought to the table was an awareness of his own sin and a willingness to confess it before God. Isaiah knew he was unworthy of even standing before a holy God. He was just as guilty as anyone else. But unlike his fellow Jews, Isaiah was willing to admit his guilt and confess his sins before God. His contemporaries were guilty of calling “evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:5:20 ESV). In other words, they had turned morality and ethics upside down. Their behavior revealed that they lived completely opposite of what God had intended for them. They had become “wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21 ESV). They were unrepentant. They were unashamed. But Isaiah stood before a holy God and was immediately struck by his own sinfulness. And when God extended grace, mercy and forgiveness to him, Isaiah’s gratitude was expressed in willing submission to God’s will. He volunteered to act as God’s spokesman.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
What Isaiah willingly offered to do was going to be far more difficult than he could have ever imagined. God told him that his message would fall on deaf ears. They people of Judah would refuse to listen to his words of warning. He would preach, but no one would respond. He would call, but no one would listen. And when Isaiah asked God how long he would have to do this, God essentially told him, “As long as it takes.” He would have to remain faithful until the end. He would have to keep speaking until God’s judgment came in full. Isaiah had been chosen for a difficult task. He was God’s hand-picked man for a very difficult assignment. And in so many ways, we stand in a similar place as Isaiah. Peter reminds us, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV). God has chosen us. He has given us an assignment and commissioned us to act as His ambassadors and emissaries to a lost and dying world. Like Isaiah, we have been extended mercy and forgiveness. At one time we stood before a holy God as sinful and deserving of His judgment. But He cleansed us through the blood of His own Son, Jesus Christ. And as a result, we should willingly offer ourselves for His service. Like Isaiah, we should say, “Here I am! Send me!” But if we dare to make that offer, we must realize that it will entail difficulty. It will not be easy. He will call us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11 ESV). We will be required to “live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16 ESV). We will be expected to “endure sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19 ESV). Why? Because it is “to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV). Isaiah’s assignment was not going to be easy. But he would prove to be faithful. He would remain obedient to God’s call. What about us? Will we live as God’s chosen people, declaring His praises and living in willful obedience to His call on our lives?
Father, I want to be a willing servant. I want to live in submission to Your call, no matter how difficult it may be. Help me to live in accordance with Your calling on my life. Never let me forget that I am Your possession, and that You have given me an assignment to complete while I live on this planet. It is not to be about me and my own pleasure, greed, conceit, comfort, and will. I have been redeemed so that I might declare Your glory and grace to all those I meet. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men