Singing this morning: “By grace I am received, by grace I am redeemed”.
I have a picture of the sea – calm – the swells gently lifting and falling – I am floating on it – it extends to the horizon on all sides. “That is like my grace – it extends further than you can see, it surrounds you completely. That word describes the whole of My relationship with you. Everything that I do, everywhere we interact – Grace is operating – it is the basis of every action I take towards you. It is a word which is used so often, without true comprehension of its deep significance and meaning. Allow the knowledge and experience of My grace to transform you continually.”
Isaiah 6. This is such a magnificent chapter that I have found myself coming back to it several times. Here are some of the things that have caused me to ponder:
The significance of Uzziah’s death in relation to the previous 5 chapters of Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s pending judgement. Uzziah died from leprosy which is attributed to God’s judgement on him for desecrating the temple (2Chr 26:16). So this is the completion of the backdrop against which Isaiah is called. Judgement is prominent and apparent throughout this chapter. In the presence of the vision of Yahweh, Isaiah repents (v 5). God’s action towards Isaiah shows his cleansing by a coal from the altar. Significantly coming from the altar, which reminds us of the substitutionary death this forgiveness requires. Secondly the burning coal is a picture of judgement. Remember what I have said that salvation is always closely linked to judgement. So Isaiah is prepared for his mission.
Then Isaiah is warned that his ministry of preaching God’s word is going to have the response of hardening peoples hearts and closing their ears. A difficult concept which is taken up by Jesus in Mark, as He describes His reason for teaching in parables. So the preaching of God’s word is a form of God’s judgement on those who do not want to listen. Those who are open to God, will hear and be enriched while those who do not want to hear, for whatever reason will be hardened even more. This explains so much about people who are so obviously blind to and cannot comprehend what we feel are obvious facts.
The difficult part is v 10 b “Otherwise – they might see, hear or turn”. What do you guys make of that?
Secondly we see this whole chapter against the backdrop of vs 3. Declaring God’s Almighty, universal power and authority. Remember I said at the beginning of our reading of Isaiah, the key vs for Isaiah is 40:5? Says the same thing. So we are reminded both by the vision and those words again who this whole book is about. General when one writes there is an concept of “show, not tell”. That means if you can show a concept it is much more powerful than simply describing or narrating it. I have been pondering over the vision as such and will chat more about that on Monday.
Finally the reminder in the last vs brings up the shining hope we should have against the background of all this judgment. That power and universal authority of vs 3, is fully focused on the “Stump” which is the “Seed (vs13.b)”. A pinprick of light, at this point, that is going to come alive in a blazing furnace later, to fulfil the whole purpose of God for the world..
So how are you hearing? Notice I said “how” not what.