By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Isaiah 6.8-13
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Book of Isaiah in conjunction with this article.
The Zealous Heart
Have there been times in your life that you found yourself moved to volunteer for something? It may have been to help someone pack/unpack their things as they were moving. It may have been committing your time to help an elderly person. It may have been volunteering to help clean up a trashy beach, or any number of other things. But have you ever lent yourself to a task that you came to regret having volunteered for? We may even have even heard the expression “look before you leap” from someone giving advice to examine possible problems before committing to the endeavor. But we both know that sometimes zealousness wins and we are committed to something that we just were not expecting.
The sixth chapter of Isaiah is quite powerful. It records Isaiah’s tremendous vision of and conversation with Jehovah and other Heavenly creatures. Isaiah witnessed not only the Seraphim praising the holiness of YHWH1 but also how their praise “shook the rafters”2 and proclaimed himself unworthy to be in their presence.3 In response to his statement, one of the Seraphim took a piece of coal and touched Isaiah’s lips pronouncing him acceptable.4
Being able to see a vision of this magnitude is powerful in and of itself. Hearing the voices of Heavenly beings praising the Creator of the universe adds power to the moment. And being accepted within their realm is all the sweeter. But as we will see, it is Isaiah who responds to a question asked by Jehovah Himself.
Remember Isaiah is a human visioning and hearing heavenly things. It seems reasonable to assume that he is witnessing events that are not normally seen by humanity. There are at least two things we can ascertain from his vision. One, Isaiah is able to witness the God of Heaven and Earth being praised. And two, that God is asking for a volunteer for an important mission from the heavenly association. It is important that we notice these things.
Taking note of these things is important because it seems that Jehovah’s question may have been intended to be answered by an angel or other member of the Heavenly realm. Instead, it is answered by a zealous Isaiah – a human. As we will see, his answer “Here am I; send me”5 is admirable, but the task he is to do, quite frankly, is a job that no one should want.
Jehovah charges Isaiah with the task of not only telling the people a difficult truth, but also preventing them from coming to the knowledge of that truth6 and he is to continue this task until all seems lost.7 While scripture does not record Isaiah’s reaction to the charge, the task he is given seems almost unbelievable – Jehovah is using him to prevent people from coming to the knowledge of good news and truth and repentance!
The task that Isaiah is charged to do is vastly different than the hymn I can remember singing from my youth: “There Is Much to Do” by M.W. Spencer.8 The chorus of the song goes as follows:
Here Am I, Lord Send Me, Here Am I
Ready At Thy Bidding, Lord Send Me
This chorus seems to be a strong allusion back to the statement uttered by Isaiah “Here am I; Send me.” This song has a tremendous call to work – will the Christian answer the need to share the Good News? Consider the song’s last stanza:
There are souls who linger on the brink of woe, Lord, I must not, cannot bear to let them go;
Let me go and tell them, brother, turn and flee, Master, I would save them, here am I, send me.
How can any believer moved not just by the knowledge of the Good News, but for the love of God and others not take the best thing man has ever heard? But how interesting it is to note that the song has a completely positive message, where the passage from Isaiah is a completely negative message.
Truly, one must ask, do we want to be the human that brings the message of Isaiah? “Hi. I have a message from Jehovah. ‘Yes, you hear, but you don’t understand. You certainly see, but you don’t get the point!’”9 And being ordained by God Himself, then have the task to prevent the hearers of that message from repenting? If the reader thinks that I am at odds with the scripture, consider that Isaiah 6.10, in part, states, “Otherwise, seeing with their eyes, and hearing with their ears, then understanding with their hearts, they might repent and be healed.” [emp. mine, Complete Jewish Bible] How drastic this is – it stands completely at odds with the song “There Is Much to Do”.
The Scriptures are filled with passages that teach many things – some are filled with generosity, some are filled with animosity. If we can learn one thing from this passage in Isaiah, it is my prayer that neither I nor the Christians that Jehovah has blessed me to work with, nor any other believer faces the reality of Isaiah’s message. May the LORD bless us with eyes that truly see God’s truth, ears that truly hear God’s message, and hearts and minds to understand.
1. “Seraphim Praise Jehovah.” Isaiah 6.2-3, NASB.
2. “Seraphim Praise Shakes the Rafters.” Isaiah 6.4, NASB.
3. “Isaiah Unworthy.” Isaiah 6.5, NASB.
4. “Isaiah Worthy.” Isaiah 6.6-7, NASB.
5. “Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6.8, King James Version.
6. “Difficult Truth and Prevention.” Isaiah 6.9-10, NASB.
7. “How Long? Until All Seems Lost.” Isaiah 6.11-13, NASB.
8. “There Is Much to Do” M.W. Spencer, Songs of the Church, Howard Publishers.
9. “A Message from Jehovah.” Isaiah 6.9 Link: NASB, Quote: Complete Jewish Bible.