The revival of a Great Prophet- 2
Meditations from Isaiah Chapter Six
Problem-solving or renewal and revival?
When the people of God forgot their Creator and Redeemer and lived erratically and in passivity, God visited them in a special way by sending His salvation in the form of great men of God (like Isaiah whose name means the Salvation of our Lord) to revive and renew them. Isaiah started his ministry by declaring woe unto the people unless they repent which is seen throughout the first five chapters of the book of Isaiah. God has warned repeatedly, but the people were nonchalant and cold-hearted. They seemed to have left their first love for their Lord. It was at the time of the pinnacle of their backsliding that God touched the nation by removing their powerful and efficient king. The usurping of the king to perform priestly duties is clearly an indication that the people and their king have become hot-headed. When the king was removed from the scene in a dramatic way, it seemed to have touched the prophet himself to rethink and so he goes to the presence of the Lord. Here we see the prophet stops to preach and goes in for a shock treatment in the presence of the Almighty.
Of course, the prophet goes to God with a backpack full of complaints, fears and apprehensions about the fate of the nation. He had a craving for God and a realization that God’s presence is the only solace for him to depend upon for answers to his concerns and fears. He had no other place to go and he was driven to the wall with no space to manoeuvre.
It seems the prophet expected to have a usual encounter with God and lodge his petitions and then to come back. But God overwhelmed him with His mighty presence. God filled Isaiah’s eyes with a vision of Himself to comfort the prophet and to give him renewed courses of action. There he experienced strength and encouragement which he and the people so badly needed. He was filled with the power and protection that only the presence of God could provide in his most difficult circumstance. He was exposed to the glory of the Lord and seemed to be lost in its wonder and awe. He became a true worshipper rather than a usual complainer and petitioner. He found his Lord a far greater source of power for him to continue with his ministry than ever before.
The forgetfulness of the prophet
As Isaiah entered the temple of the Lord, he saw the Lord in His glory and seated on the Throne and highly lifted up, perhaps to the extent to which he could envisage with his human eyes. The Lord in His lifted up position shocked Isaiah as he realized that He was far above all the problems he and his people were faced with. Here is the Lord showing Himself to be in total control of all of Isaiah’s situations. From the Throne, a powerful message comes to Isaiah that He was in control of all that seemed to be in disarray. He declares His power to rule and overrule from that Throne. He makes known to Isaiah His sovereignty and that He has all the authority to do whatever He wanted to accomplish. His Throne is shown to be above all the thrones on earth and seen as capable of resolving all instabilities and failures of His people. The vision of the Lord sent the most powerful message to Isaiah to declare that when Uzziah’s powerful throne is gone, the Lord is still on the Throne to rule over everything and everyone. By being seated above everything, the Lord declares to Isaiah that he needed no anxiety or phobia about his situation because the Lord is on the throne and that He is capable to clear every doubt and to comfort every anxious soul. He tells us today that He is still on the Throne and that He has a message to everyone everywhere to be calm and that His people confide in His power in all situations.
It is interesting to realize that Isaiah is in the Throne Room of his Lord. Isaiah now seems to have forgotten all his problems, fears and apprehension and is lost in the glory of the Lord and focusing on the person of the Lord. He experiences the all-pervading power of the Lord to make all his concerns vanish and vaporize in the glory of the Lord. He finds that the Lord’s glory overshadows everything in and around His servant and makes him like a sheep being calm in the presence of its shepherd.
No room for the baggage
As Isaiah enters the Throne Room of the Lord and saw His glittering glory filled the temple, he realizes that there is no room for him to place his baggage of complaints, problems, apprehensions, and fears (6:1). The train of the Lord filled the temple. He could no longer claim that he came after preaching his heart out to the people because there was no room in the Throne Room of the Lord for his achievements, experience, expertise, prestige, prominence, ordination, oratory, eloquence and scriptural knowledge which he brought in with him. He realizes that all of what he was as a prophet has drained out and that he has become so empty when he saw and experienced the glory of the Lord. In essence, the prophet could only say, “Just as I am, without one plea”. He realizes that no matter how great a prophet he might be, he is absolutely nothing and totally empty of himself and all that he has when he saw the glory of the Lord.
The unfolding drama
In the presence of the Lord, Isaiah was overwhelmed to see a number of awesome events which were all focusing on the glory of the Lord. The Lord’s all-encompassing robe of glory, the relentlessly worshipping seraphs with perfect concentration, the thunderous sound of the outcry of the glory of the Lord from the throats of the seraphs, the superlative speed of the flights of the seraphs, the smoke that fills the temple, the shaking of the doorposts of the temple, the burning coal at the altar, a tong, an angel ready to cleanse the servant of God and a sound of the Lord speaking were all experienced by Isaiah in great power. All of these unfolding movements were the ways by which the Lord was speaking to the prophet to shake and wake him up to the reality of responding to the glory of the Lord.
It’s all for the prophet
The interlude of Isaiah Chapter 6 in the book of Isaiah is not for God to focus on the death of Uzziah. It is not to show how seraphs worship and travel fast to declare the glory of the Lord. But it is to focus on the spiritual and emotional needs of the great prophet. But the scene centered on Isaiah’s unworthiness, his detestable environment, the sinful hearts of the prophet and the people of God, the sheer emptiness in his heart and then move on to true repentance. It then moved on to the revival and renewal of the prophet so that a changed Isaiah could go back and preach a thunderous message on the need for a revival among God’s people. We are reminded of the fact that if the prophet is not right with God, the people will not be right with God. If the prophet is not truly repentant, the people will not be able to listen to the Word of God which comes out of his mouth. The iniquity in their hearts would otherwise shut their ears so as not to hear the voice of the Lord.
It is likely that the prophet who was fully immersed in preaching didn’t have time to see the Lord in His glory on a regular basis and listen to Him. But God was not going to make him a repetitive preacher, but one with new experiences in His presence to become a passionate preacher. This was possible by giving him newer visions of His glory to revive and renew him. So in Isaiah Chapter Six, God speaks to him through the elegance of His presence, His being the lifted up Lord above all situations and circumstances and through His servants (Seraphs) who were totally and absolutely sold out on Him and His glory in their commitment to serving the Lord. The vision was thus a great reprimand to the prophet to renew and revive him for the mighty work that lies ahead for him to declare the ‘Salvation of our Lord’ to the people of God.
The vision which Isaiah received is a great challenge for us to re-examine our commitment and loyalty to our Lord so that we would be useful instruments in His mighty hands in the days to come. The vision of our Lord through the pages of His Word demands our adherence, repentance, commitment and loyalty as we are renewed by His Spirit to shape us for His use.