Rev. Thomas Shepherd, Pastor
Stuart United Methodist Church
Please read Isaiah 6:1-13
Isaiah had just seen a vision from God and his spirit must have soared. So when he heard the Lord ask “Whom shall I send,” he responded, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.” Isaiah volunteered to be the messenger of God’s message.
How many of us have boldly said “I’ll go, Lord,” or “I’ll do whatever the Lord wants?” Isaiah did just that. He was willing. But there is more to the story.
Most of the time when you hear a sermon on Isaiah 6 the topic is on “Here am I; send me!” While that is an excellent topic and one in which we all should consider seriously, there is more to this story. That is, sometimes the task that we are called upon to do is hard. Such is the case with Isaiah’s task.
He is told before he even begins that the people would not listen. Can you imagine that? To be called by God to deliver His message to a people and then be told that they are still doomed, that they will not listen to or heed the message. These people had already made up their minds and they were going to do things their way no matter what!
The effect of refusing the Word of God is the hardening of the heart that leads to destruction. Obviously, according to this text there is a point of no return in refusing to obey God’s Word. Israel had reached that point. It had determined to go its own way no matter what God said. But God still sent Isaiah on this mission to deliver a message of the destruction of His people and to prepare them for the fall.
Maybe Isaiah thought that just possibly the nation would repent and return to the Lord. However, the Lord told him His message would not be heard and there would be no turning back. The people had not listened before and they would not listen now.
Judgment is coming because of their continued disobedience. In fact, on hearing Isaiah’s message, the people would become even more hardened against the Lord. Their hearts were so distant from God that they simply could not recognize the truth. Is that where we are as a people today?
I feel for Isaiah. Instead of his preaching resulting in repentance and a turning to God it would result in a more determined refusal to recognize truth.
There is no easy gospel. No one likes to hear about their sin, or that they must repent and turn to God. Most people don’t even think that they are guilty of sin, or at least they believe that they are not that bad. But to God any sin is that bad.
Repentance is necessary to receive the grace of God. We must humble ourselves and acknowledge our sin and call upon the Lord to extend His grace to us through the shed blood of Jesus. But where there is no repentance that leaves only judgment and its consequences. The choice is yours! What will it be?
Isaiah wanted to serve the Lord and make a difference. Thus he said, “Lord, how long?” And the Lord said, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people, and the land is utterly desolate” (12). Can’t you just imagine Isaiah thinking “I thought that they would listen”?
The Lord told him that he was to proclaim the message until His judgment came, that is, till the Babylonian exile actually occurred and the people were taken from the land (12). They had sold out their children’s and grandchildren’s future for self-gratification of the present. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
The people had gone too far down that road of sin and rejection of God’s truth and they could no longer hear the message. Judgment was coming. Judgment came with the destruction of Israel and the Babylonian exile.
If we decide to do the same our fate is in our hands. God has made the way clear. Which will you choose?
People who choose not to listen to God’s Word get further and further away from repentance. Apparently there is a point of no return for we are told in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, 11 “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, 12 so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.”
When will we listen to God? Without repentance there is no forgiveness. It is one thing to receive a calling from God when you know people are going to listen and repent, but Isaiah is told that instead the people will ignore him and the land will be left in ruins.
The prophet did what God asked him to do. He preached God’s Word and trusted in the Lord to deal with the rest. So when you experience God calling to you and you doubt yourself and say, “Who, Me?” Remember the answer of Isaiah, “Send me.” If we are faithful to serve God we can be sure God will be faithful to us.