Hymn 396 verse 1-2
 
Isaiah's calling
 
 
The Lord had shown him Israel and Jerusalem in ruins.  The Lord saw Israel's great stubbornness, but he still desired her to come back.  Israel was in trouble.  But the Lord would not listen to her pleas until Israel changed her ways.  What was once a thing of promise and beauty had become trash and disease.  The chosen people had become a disgrace.
 


But the Lord also showed him another vision.  Even though Israel's sins were like a blood stain, they would be made pure and white like freshly fallen snow.  Their spiritual grime would be replaced with bright white perfection. Even though they had forgotten their God, their God had not forgotten his promises.  He would not forget that he promised to provide a solution, a Messiah. 
 
The Lord had privileged this man, this noble prophet, with visions.  He had seen things that others could not see and he described them for all generations to know and study. 
 
Now the Lord was giving him another vision. 
Here is his account of what he saw: 
 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 
And one cried to another and said:
      “ Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
      The whole earth is full of His glory!”
 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

He saw The Lord.  The Lord was on a high throne wearing a seemingly endless robe.  He saw strange creatures unlike anything he had seen on earth.  He heard the creatures praise the Lord and he felt the power of their voices.  He was in the presence of the highest power.

So he said: 
      “ Woe is me, for I am undone!
      Because I am a man of unclean lips,
      And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
      For my eyes have seen the King,
      The LORD of hosts.”


In the presence of holiness he became sharply aware of his unworthiness.  He knew he didn't belong there.  He knew and expressed how unworthy he was to speak in the Lord's presence.  
 
Here's what happened next.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 
      “ Behold, this has touched your lips;
      Your iniquity is taken away,
      And your sin purged.”

Ouch.  Given that he could see and hear in this vision, is it possible that he could feel the sensation of a hot coal touching his lips?  By this act he was purified.  In this way his complaint of unworthiness is answered.  His sin was purged. Next he heard the voice of the Lord, saying:      

 “ Whom shall I send,
      And who will go for Us?”

Send?  The Lord was looking for a messenger. 
Then Isaiah, prophet of the Living God, said,

“Here am I! Send me.” 
  

 
 Hymn 396 verse 3-4
 
The Lord is still looking for a messenger.  He still asks, "whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Scripture is the account of those who answered, "Here am I, Send me."  It is also the account of those who oppose the Lord and his messengers.
 
Whether you realize it or not you have a calling.  A calling by which God gives you the gift of purpose.   Your life has a purpose, a reason for being.  Every Christian is exactly where God wants them to be.  You are in exactly the right place at the right time.  And you and I have been called by God to fulfill certain duties.  Though the details differ, our callings are all essentially the same.  
 
Have you noticed that when God appeared to his prophets it was always a veiled view.  Moses saw God's back on Mount Sinai.  God came to Elijah in a whisper.  Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and John saw God in visions.  Even Jesus was a veiled view of God.  Why? because God knows that if any human saw God in his full glory that man would never survive.  God mercifully comes to us by hiding himself.  Isaiah said,  "Truly You are God, who hide Yourelf."  Essentially God approaches and blesses us behind various masks.  God gives grains and all sorts of fruit from the earth for sustenance  God provides rainfall and sunshine.  God provides the Holy Christian Church on earth, through which his people can be comforted and encouraged.  You have the word of God himself handed down thousands of years to you, for your benefit.  These are things that no creature could produce for itself.  In all these things God approaches and blesses us with his glory hidden.  God makes himself known by hiding himself.  This is a great mystery. 
 
Jesus was indeed true God veiled in true man.  He hid his full glory while he walked among us.  It is by him that we have assurance of life after death.  It is by him that we know our God to be loving and merciful.  It is by him that we come to the father.  Jesus explained this to Philip when he said,  "He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works."  Jesus came as a servant to do his father's bidding.  Because of what Jesus did, our roles have changed.  We have been changed from slaves who can never work hard enough to get out of our bondage to sons and daughters of the most high, heirs of eternal life.  You are all adopted princes and princesses of the king of kings.  You have been made royalty. 
 
Now about your calling.  As sons and daughters of the king you are to be God's hiding place.  It is a privilege to be associated with the Lord of Hosts.  He asks you to be his mask.  You are to be a tool by which the world can see the Lord.  You are to be a means by which the Lord blesses this earth.  You are God's mask just like the sun and rain, by which he blesses us all.  He hides his glory in you so that we can get closer to him.  You know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  You know that you and God dwell together.  Remember that you are his messenger to the world. 
 
You don't need to have a special job or degree.  You don't need to be a certain age.  You actually don't have a choice.  Your calling has already begun.  No matter what you do to make money, you always have a purpose in this life.  No matter how much education you get, you always have a calling in this life.  It's not something you wait to achieve, like graduating.  Your purpose is always now.  Now is always the time to give thanks to God.  Now is always the time for your best work.  Now is the time for the world to see God behind you.  Whether you have been assigned to be a student, lawyer, pilot, or inventor now is when you do your work faithfully and sprout where God plants you.  Whether you have been assigned to be a mother, miner, trucker, or politician now is the time to do your work faithfully and let the world see God behind you.
 
"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"  "Here am I, send me."
 
prayer
 
O Lord, God of Isaiah's visions, we are surely unworthy to be in your presence.  We are a people of unclean lips, yet you purify us with the blood of the lamb who was slain.  You make us your mask by which the world may be blessed by you and get closer to you.  Carry us along as we live out our calling in this life.  Help us transition through the stages of our lives always remembering that our purpose ever remains the same.  Be with us Lord Jesus, we ask you to stay. Amen.


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