Disclaimer: The doctrinal viewpoint expressed in these Bible studies is the author, Caleb a.k.a. Aaron Tan's personal view. They may not align in all aspects with the orthodoxy of the places of worship (if named or referenced) where these bible study(s) may have been presented.
Due to privacy reasons, all characters in this post are fictional but all events are true.
Hi TODAYS, I trust you are happy and living a purpose-filled life, serving the Lord and His creations.
There were many prophets raised up and used by God to lead the nation of Israel. They had a singular mission but varied ways of achieving it. Isaiah was raised up by God to do just that. Unlike the other prophets, Isaiah had a full-blown insight of the coming Servant-King, Christ Jesus. His prophetic vision is somehow specific. May I say extreme micro and macro viewpoint? In a quick glance, Isaiah received the below foresight of the Lord Jesus:
- He carried the micro insight of the birth of the Servant-King (Isaiah 9:6).
- The virgin who God will use to birth the Son (Isaiah 7:14).
- The death of the Messiah (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
- The redemption plan through Christ, the Emmanuel (Isaiah 43).
- The ultimate vision Isaiah received was the second coming of our Lord (Isaiah 24, Isaiah 63, Isaiah 65:17-25).
- Isaiah saw the end of the world and Judgment Day (Isaiah 66).
Although Isaiah and Micah were anointed and mightily used by God to deliver His heart cries, the difference between the two was, Isaiah was called to reach the kings and royalties. Under his ministry, he served four rulers. While Micah was assigned to the middle class and below. Micah reached out to the corrupt government servants and marketplace people who discriminated against the poor and needy.
Generally speaking, all prophets – Old and New Testament, suffered rejections and were poorly treated by their own people, including John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Isaiah, as a prophet was assigned to preach prophetic sermons, was destined to fail. Would you like to be in his position if you were called to preach prophetic messages? I’m not sure about you. As for me, I’ve been wanting to quit the ministry for years. Nevertheless, the calling in my life cannot be brushed away. It is like stubborn stains clinging to my heart and soul.
What do I mean when I said Isaiah was meant to fail as a prophetic preacher. According to the scripture, God told Isaiah to preach His Word, and God will deafen his audience. The more Isaiah preached, the audience would harden their hearts and ears (Isaiah 6:10). He literally was preaching to a nation that neither can hear nor perceive. It was God’s deliberate act. To make things worse, Isaiah can do nothing about it. No prayer and fasting, not even 24/7 worship conferences, can open the hearts and ears of these people. If we were to measure his ministry success with KPI, he would have been fired. Simply because he could not win a single soul! How sad, but it is a fact.
How does all this information from Isaiah relate to us, modern-day Christians? Here are a few opinions and may sound offensive to some readers.
- God’s ways are different from ours. How we measure ministry success is often based on numbers. No doubt, and I fully agree with KPI. But at times, KPI is redundant when obedience to God takes precedence. Isaiah preached, but his audience became more rebellious. His ministry reached nobody. But in God’s eye, he counted Isaiah as a loyal and faithful servant. How is that?
- Isaiah, when he was in the temple. An incredible tangible presence of God’s holiness surrounded him. He was convicted of his sins, but God purified him, and to prepare him for the prophetic role, God touched his lips with the burning coal. It wasn’t a vision but literal. Yes, his lips became disfigured ever since. Isaiah was in his late teens, otherwise, the early twenties.
He wasn’t born with defective lips or face. But he was made to have scarred lips and a face. Revelational point of view, we tend to look at the outward appearances. The individual’s dressing, eloquence speech, the grand look and feel of the building etc. What if God chose to downgrade and shake off all of these outward forms and shapes like burning Isaiah’s lips and face. Would we still pay attention to the messenger?
- Isaiah held on to God’s standard of holiness. He was the first prophet that used the phrase ‘The Holy One of Israel’ to describe God. This revelation separated Isaiah’s status as a man, as a prophet from the rest. It is one thing to grab the insight within one’s mind; it is a different thing to walk and live it in a day-to-day manner. Isaiah got it in his mind and released it through his way of life.
A man that practices holiness does not impose his own ways. God’s way and everything related to Him, to His kingdom, stands.
Isaiah prophesied for over 60 odd years. He failed throughout these decades. He probably was discouraged. I believe he suffered frustration, condemnation, and hopelessness. I’m not surprised if he doubted his ability. Yet he continued, and persisted. He clung to that encounter while he was in the temple. That one-time encounter with ‘The Holy One of Israel’ is enough to carry him through the ages. I believe it was because of these qualities that God illuminated him with the micro and macro insights of the future Servant-King, Christ the Messiah to the Jews and the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 66).
Let us learn from Isaiah in our devotion to the Lord. Set our eyes on Him. It is a wedding vow where the couple vowed to each other, “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.” The prophet was punished with a brutal death, yet his devotion, trust, faith and hope to and in God didn’t waver. How was he killed? He was put in an empty tree trunk, sawed into two! (Hebrews 11:37) The Lord Jesus commented on such loyalty, persistence and faith to the very end in the letters to the seven churches. Isaiah the prophet demonstrated it.
My final word on this post is, let us endure to the end. Stay faithful to Christ alone. Trust me on this; God longs to share deep secrets and truth with us. But He often looks for faithful and loyal servants. Let us be that modern-day Isaiah.