What If I Am Isaiah?
- Sheldon Clowdus
I have thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship, the unity of purpose, and the opportunity to dream with these other pastors. Hearing their prayers for our city has been really incredible and it is exciting to think of God using us or even allowing us to witness a mighty work in our city. It is really easy to find yourself thinking of the things God is doing in you personally and in the ministries He has allowed you to lead and imagine those things being used to begin a revival in your church or town. I hope and pray that He uses me, these other pastors, and our churches to begin a massive revival in Rome. I hope I get to witness the transformation of a city for the glory of my God.
But what if none of that happens?
What if I preach and teach and pray and no one responds?
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah was given some of the most well known and repeated messianic prophecies recorded in scripture. What is as noted was that by most modern standards of success, Isaiah was a complete failure.
Isaiah 6 is one of the most well know passages in the Old Testament, maybe the entire bible. In the first 7 verses we have Isaiah being shown a vision of the glory of God, realizing his own utter sinfulness, and being cleansed by God of that sin.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe 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 theof hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
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 of hosts!”And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
In verse 8, we have the commissioning of Isaiah as God asks who will go for Him and Isaiah responds with the now famous "Here am I, send me."
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.”
The part that sometimes get overlooked in this chapter is the conversation between God and Isaiah that follows in verses 9-13.
And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
and the removes people 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
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.
Did you catch that?
God tells Isaiah that He wants him to go and make the hearts of the people dull so that lest they "turn and be healed". Basically, God wants Isaiah to prophesy to Israel so that when He judges them for their sin, they can't say, "What? No one told us that you were going to do this? This isn't fair that you are judging us for our sin." Isaiahs job, basically, seems to be to remove the excuse for Israel when God comes to judge them.
Isaiah then asks God in verse 11 how long he has to do this. God's response? Until the land is desolate and the people are removed from it by God. For all the years of Isaiah's faithful service to God, the result was that the people he was sent to prophesy to refused to listen. He was obedient to the call of God and yet his people were judged for their sin and sent into exile.
I want God to use me to change my city.
But what if His call on me is to preach the gospel so that no one in Rome has excuse when judgment comes?
I want to see my church lead a revival that sets Rome, Georgia on fire for a glorious God.
But what if His call on me is preach and teach and experience little or no revival after years of faithful service.
I want to be Paul and see lives changed and churches planted and the gospel prosper.
But what if God wants me to be Isaiah?
Will I be OK with that? Is God really enough for me even in the face of years of seemingly futile ministry?
What if I am Isaiah?