07 August – Additional Notes
ISAIAH 6: Connecting With the Creator
There are three sections to the Jewish Old Testament – the Law, the prophets and the writings. There’s seventeen history books; five books of poetry and seventeen books by the Prophets. Isaiah is the first book in this third section – the books of the prophets.
If the first section of seventeen history books in the Bible, were about the Creator God making Himself known to humankind in a specific way (in addition to His general revelation of Himself in creation), and then our response to His existence and involvement in our life experience here on earth, then the second and third sections (the poetry books and the prophets) could be said to be our human history from the other side of the fence – from God’s perspective. During the last couple of weeks, the poetry books showed us several things about the Creator…
He’s our Maker and the only One in sovereign charge over His creation (Book of Job);
He’s our Shepherd and guide (Book of Psalms);
He’s our Father and only source of our wisdom (Book of Proverbs);
He’s our Teacher and only One who can fill our emptiness (the Book of Ecclesiastes); and
Finally, we saw in the Song of Songs, that God is Love.[a]
Based firmly and securely on history, and based on these five aspects of God (though this epic storyline paints God with many more colours besides), let’s look at the future. Over the remain days of August, we’ll look into the seventeen prophetic books. These books are prophetic for the actual readers at the time – prophecies about their short and mid-term future. But these books have been miraculously preserved so that we can read them today. This tells me that they remain “prophetic” for us today. They hold for us the long-term future of the nations, in fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham – that in him all the families on the earth will be blessed.[b]
But to understand the magnificence of this Master Plan, that’s been in place from the beginning, it’s worth understanding the Playwright.
Isaiah lived at the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. He clearly dates his vision with the year when King Uzziah of Judah died – around 757BC. [v1] In other words, this is a real moment in time – it happened whether we like it or not, or whether we can understand it or not. The issue is: why was it miraculously kept for us to read today, when so many (apparently more important) documents from ancient history have been lost? My guess is that our Maker wants to connect with us, so that we’ll know exactly who it is that we’re reflecting, as His image-bearers. The vision is scary for Isaiah, but it had to be shared…
If heaven is God’s throne and earth is His footstool[c], then it’s easy to understand that the invisible train of His robe ends in, and fills, His Temple in Jerusalem. [v1] This is why we sing songs about “worshipping at His footstool”. King David said that the Temple was a house for connecting with the Creator – a place for His footstool.[d] Among the folds of His garments we bow down.
“Seraphim” are angels [v2] and, although we don’t fully understand these things, Isaiah isn’t the only one in the Creator’s epic storyline who saw such things. They’re created beings that belong in the parallel universe of our Maker’s Kingdom. They aren’t fairy tales or Greek mythology. When a portal is authorised, they had a real effect on the place where Isaiah was standing. [v4] And yet it was their message that caused Isaiah the greatest distress. With such close proximity to the holiness of his Maker, Isaiah’s first response was “Oh cr*p! I’m exposed and I’ve had it!” And, because it had been understood from ancient times that no-one (in our state) can look upon the face of God (meet our Maker) without dying, Isaiah was convinced He was going to die because of his sin. [v5]
What happens next is vital for our understanding of “righteousness” – an issue that religions worldwide have been trying to tackle (with hit-and-miss results in most of their adherents) since the beginning of civilizations. It was the angel who remedied the situation, and the “healing” from sinfulness was miraculous i.e. not man-made through human achievement. In a divine exchange, Isaiah was purified in an instant, by God’s good graces. His “unrighteousness” was taken away and his wrong-doing forgiven in full. [v6-7]
If all this isn’t incredible enough, the Creator goes a step further. He sets about every day making Himself known globally to people of unclean lips. And, of the ones who react by crumpling in His presence (just as Isaiah did), He reaches out swiftly to clean us, and to forgiving us…
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:8-9]
After that, He does the unthinkable. As part of His Global Plan, He dares to use even people like you and people like me. [v8] Without holding back to check if Isaiah is really sorry or seriously ready to change, without waiting for a probation period to ensure that Isaiah is trustworthy, Father God immediately entrusts Isaiah with exactly what he had his problem with! Isaiah had just admitted to using his mouth wrongly, yet his Maker (who knows him inside out) simply said “Go”. [v9]
I shake my head in amazement as I type these things to you. No qualifications are needed to follow our Maker because the message is simple. It has to be simple because it’s falling on deaf ears…
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? [Isaiah 53:1]
From the outset, the Creator could already foresee a race of people who won’t listen. [v9-10] So, knowing that he’s about to be sent on a failing mission, Isaiah wanted to know if it would just be a temporal glitch, before He sees success in his role as the Creator God’s messenger. But the Creator’s response basically predicts deaf ears until a time when the earth is in total devastation. A time when only a tenth will remain faithful to Him. [v11-12]
And so, I’ll never cease to be amazed with the persistence of the Creator God’s Global Salvation Plan – against all odds. Because He is omniscient (all-knowing), He’s known the end from the beginning, and therefore how unsuccessful His messengers will be. Isaiah’s vision was relevant in the short term – Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and every city was devastated. Only a fraction of the original population (the poorest in the land) remained, as a direct fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy.[e]
But prophecy isn’t prophecy without a mid-term and long-term fulfilment. In the mid-term, the stump of the tree remains when it is felled, and “the holy seed” is its stump. [v13] This is a gemstone woven into the fabric of the Creator’s epic storyline, and it’s continually alluded to throughout the remaining books of the Jewish Scripture, which we’ll be looking at in my Breadcrumbs throughout August.
In other words, by the end of Malachi (the last of the ancient prophets), the “stump” and the “holy seed” remained in mystery – unfulfilled prophecy. The only clue was that it was a person coming; they just didn’t know who. But what’s this to do with connecting with the Creator today?
Well, it’s the long-term element to Isaiah’s prophecy that is still being fulfilled. The warning remains current as we look around, even today. Humanity, in general, “keeps on listening, but doesn’t perceive; they keep on looking, but don’t understand”. [v9] When it comes to connecting with their creator, their hearts continue to be “insensitive; their ears dull, and their eyes dim”. [v10] But here’s the thing, Isaiah’s prophecy remains open and the secret is in the word “otherwise” i.e. conversely, there’s another side of the coin, a different ending to this persistent and unchanged behaviour…
“…Otherwise they might see with their eyes; hear with their ears; understand with their hearts, and return to be healed.” [v13]
If I want to make any connection at all with the Creator God today, I don’t have to go far to find the message of His Global Salvation Plan entrusted to the most unlikely of people. For His methods, and in His wisdom, the Creator continually uses the foolish things of this world to shame the ‘wise’.[f] Against all odds, He chose people throughout history, like Isaiah, to speak out on His behalf – a man who had admitted to using his mouth to spread “unholiness”. He chose to use uneducated fisherman at the time of Christ, and ….He’s even chosen, in my lifetime, to use the life and death of an unknown boy from the English borderlands.
Our Creator’s gone out of His way, throughout this epic storyline, to connect with humanity. I wonder why we wait for our lives to become ruined, uninhabitable, ravaged and forsaken [v12], before we to go out of our way to connect with Him?
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] 1 John 4:7-8
[b] Genesis 26:4 and 28:14
[c] Isaiah 66:1
[d] 1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalm 99:5 and 132:7
[e] 2 Kings 25:22 and 2 Chronicles 36:21
[f] Jeremiah 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 1:27