The call of the prophets to speak out for God.
Last week we were reading about the first believers living in Jerusalem. They felt an inner compulsion to tell people about Jesus. After all, when you have some good news, you really want to tell people, and that is how these disciples felt.
This week’s readings are about some Old Testament prophets, and how they were called by God to speak His word in difficult days. They too had this inner compulsion to speak up for God.
v 8. Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
Just try to put yourself in Isaiah’s sandals for one moment. He has been given an incredible vision of the glory of God. In spite of feeling utterly unworthy, he is forgiven, cleansed and prepared to go out as God’s messenger. Surely you can expect a great message of God’s love and support for his people? But hold on Isaiah, that’s not the kind of message you are being commissioned to deliver. God is not about to announce a great rescue package for his people, far from it. Instead it’s a message of dire destruction and gloom. Just listen to bits of it:
Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?” And he replied, “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland; until the Lord has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. If even a tenth—a remnant—survive, it will be invaded again and burned.
Isaiah’s experience of being in the presence of God has left him with a doom-laden message. It can be really uncomfortable to be God’s messenger and offer people future disaster. Isaiah – you will not be welcomed as a messenger of hope; you will not be loved for the message you announce!