Day 13: Isaiah 6
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King,the Lord Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
I tend to read scripture with a very optimistic lens. I want to assume the very best is possible. There are a few times in the Bible, however, when God is not very optimistic, and these moments make me sad. This passage is one of those moments. God tells Isaiah that he is going to be proclaiming a message to a people that will be “ever hearing but never understanding, ever seeing but never perceiving.” He even tells him to make this his goal, commanding Isaiah to, “Make the heart of this people calloused.” When Isaiah asks how long this must be his mission, the Lord tells him that it will be until “the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” In a spiritual sense, the holy seed (the people of Israel) that God had sewn long ago, would be cut down and stumps would remain as monuments to a past day of religious fervor.
The voice of Isaiah reminds me of the prologue to the book of John, where John writes about Jesus, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” In creating humans, God gave us eyes to see the world and ears to hear his voice. Yet, we humans have proven again and again throughout history that if the world does not meet our expectations, or if God’s voice does not seem relevant, we will choose to reject the truth. We find this rule to hold true in our own time.
I see it in sickly people who refuse to eat a healthy diet of vegetables and water though it could make all the difference for them. I see it in alcoholics who don’t give up the bottle to save their family. I see it in our politicians, turning a blind eye to injustices in both nature and humanity for the sake of party lines. I see it in Christians who refuse to give away their money or give up their godless habits for the sake of convenience and self-interest. I see it in you and me, choosing pleasures of this world over the disciplines of the Spirit.
May God grant us ears to hear and eyes to perceive.
Jonathan Burkey | Worship Pastor