The revival of a Great Prophet-1
Meditations from Isaiah Chapter Six
Let’s meet Isaiah in the valley of life
Many servants of God had their share of the valley experience of their life and ministry. More often than not, we are given very little details of those experiences and inroads into their brokenness. So we are unable to dive into those valleys to learn what they have learned and how these can be applied in our own lives. Brokenness is rarely shared with anyone and so the pain, shame, misery, tears, groaning and griping accompanied with it are left in oblivion.
Prophet Isaiah is an exception to this. He received the grace to articulate every detail of his experience of brokenness for God’s people to learn great lessons from it and apply in scores of lives. He was willing to expose himself and the lowest point in his life for others to see as a testimony to God’s grace and mercy towards him. Isaiah has already been a preacher and prophet for years as we come to Chapter Six of his prophetic book. His ministry has powerful and penetrating all the while. His words were bold and expressions were focused in order that the people of God would experience a revival in their souls. Like Paul, Isaiah did not hide from God’s people anything that the Lord had laid on his heart. He was not at all concerned about the consequences of the message he was entrusted with to preach because it was not his message, but the Lord’s. He recognized that his life was first and foremost the Lord’s message to the people among whom he dwelt. Of course, his utterances were equally his life in a message, but he felt that his life and words must complement each other to make it credible and powerful. He knew that the message of the Lord will not come back without result and so he preached his heart out and lived his life out. He used words like that of John the Baptizer. But as he continued to preach, he became more and more aware of his own needs for a revival, dynamism and greater spiritual revolution.
One would normally not expect the preacher to experience revival and feel that the people need it badly. But the experience of Isaiah brings home to our hearts the truth that the preacher needs revival in his soul more than the people who listen to his message. The Prophet’s message has to be his life itself and unless it is broken, rebuilt, revitalized and exposed to the people, the message he preaches will be conceptual and not practical. So it was the divine plan that early in his ministry, prophet Isaiah had to be exposed in the height of his brokenness. So God uses contemporary situations to grant the experience of brokenness in the life of His choice servant Isaiah.
Isaiah Six teaches us that even as we continue to preach and minister unto the spiritual needs of God’s people, we need to feel a craving for continuous brokenness and revival in our souls so that our messages will be sharper than ever before. Isaiah’s experience asks us as to whether we desire a fresh visitation from the Lord to do something in our souls that has never happened before? Do we have pant for a fresh experience with the risen Lord in all His glory? Are we ready to be exposed openly when our only cover will be the Lord and His glory and not our eloquence, expertise, experience, and exuberance?
It is at this juncture that Prophet Isaiah comes alive in front of our eyes as we open the book of Isaiah and go to the vision he received which is elucidated in Chapter Six. His experience was primarily for him to be cleansed and revitalized. But it is a model for every Christian believer, to take a hard look at the brokenness of this great preacher and prophet, and profit from it for him to start with and for the Lord’s people. If Isaiah needed such an experience, modern day preachers and servants of God need it all the more.
Let’s understand the context of Isaiah’s Prophecy
Isaiah was permitted to minister unto the people of God to show them that even when kings come and go one after the other (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah: Isaiah 1:1), the Word of the Lord remains unchanged in its power, glory and sharpness as it is eternally secured in heaven (Psalms 119:89). The message comes through the seraphs, the servants of God, who are made instruments for a ministry unto the prophets of the old and the new. Their responsibility it is to have action-oriented preaching in its seriousness. Through it all, God shows Isaiah that He is the preeminent God who rules over all other forces and speaks through them all.
Isaiah acknowledges at the beginning of his book that God speaks to the wind and the sky (Isaiah 1:2). This is because nature and all of the creation listen to and obey God unquestionably. It is also a reminder to the people that God still speaks even when the man doesn’t listen, obey or take God’s commands seriously. There is an alluding question as to whether the prophet himself listened to God. The answer to this question is seen in Chapter Six.
Through the life of King Uzziah, God wanted Isaiah to understand that no matter how powerful man is and how sustainable he thinks he is, God will remove him from power if he is not willing to abide by God’s commands and His Word.
The events leading to the death of King Uzziah is a situation of the end of an era of national stability, growth in technology, industrial and agricultural development, enhancement of commerce and military power which make Uzziah’s kingdom invincible by the enemies. His success in multifarious sectors made Uzziah proud and arrogant. He took God’s law of worship for granted and acted like a priest which was against God’s law. Uzziah had to be dealt with by God for this violation. Through the removal of Uzziah from power, God taught Isaiah and the people of God that if they break God’s commandment, they will be handled by God in His own way.
The overall situation of the division of the kingdom because of the quarrel and fight among the brothers was another pitfall among God’s people. There was also no separation from the sinful life of the Gentiles around them. There was competition, rebellion, jealousy, and idolatry among God’s people. God dealt with all of these offenses of His people sternly which remains as a warning for us today.
At His perfect timing, God withdrew Uzziah from the scene and sent bewilderment and apprehension to the hearts of people about their future. They didn’t know what to expect from the upcoming kings. Israel was ultimately captured by the enemies in 721 BC. Judea was captured by Sennacherib. God’s people as a nation experienced national confusion. There were fear, hopelessness, and uncertainty everywhere. Little did they realize that not too far from there the foundation for the upcoming Roman Empire was being laid as a great power which will be another threat to Israel in the future? This is the setting of Isaiah Chapter Six.
It was a time like that of our present world and the state of the church of Jesus Christ today. Abrahams are in the tents, but Lots live in bungalows! (Genesis 13:18 & 19:2). Many of our families are taken captive by the world, flesh and the enemy and there is no one to go and fight to release them from its clutches! (Genesis 14:12-15). Our Youth have fallen in this desert of the world, with no one to lift them up and give them water of life! (Genesis 21:18). Our Gahazys, Demases and Baalams have all gone back to the world and its riches! The enemy is hiding and living in the secret chambers of the assemblies, as in the times of Nehemiah! (Nehemiah 13:7). Our Jeremiahs, Peters and Pauls are in the pits and in shackles in prison cells! Our Jonahs have gone their way to Tarshis rather than obey the call to go to Nineveh to preach revival and repentance! (Jonah 1:3).
Just as in the case of Isaiah, it’s time our preachers and elders renew their visions and get a new vision of the Lord and His true and majestic glory. They need fiery tongues and eyes to preach a more powerful and sharper message. They need a change of attitude and heart to receive and preach a timely message through their renewed tongues. Then and then alone will the people catch the fire of repentance and experience revival and renewal in their souls. This is why God made Isaiah go through the experience of the altar and the fiery cleansing of his tongue. If Isaiah needed brokenness and cleansing, we need it many more times. If he needed a new tongue, we need it all the more. We need to be convicted of sins in our lives and must move forward with true confession and repentance so that God can renew our messages and revisit our people in a fresh manner. If Isaiah needed to cry aloud for renewal, we need it in a greater manner. Then we will get a new zeal. Yes, prophets, preachers and pastors need revival and preach with a broken heart and eyes overflowing with tears. Then we will all see the vision of our Lord and experience His power. It will follow on to change us to passionate preaching and obedient living.