In Isaiah 6, the prophet sees the Lord “high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” This vision of the Holy God causes Isaiah to despair of his own sin and the sin of his people. The Lord sends an angel with a burning coal to touch his lips and say to him, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is take away and your sin atoned for.”
The Lord asks “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah immediately volunteers for the job saying, “Here am I. Send me!”
Next we learn that the Lord is sending him to be a herald of the Gospel to a people who will harden their hearts in response to it. Isaiah asks “For how long, Lord?” And the Lord answers by saying that he should preach until the land is ruined and the people are carried into exile. Pretty sad.
Today we’re tempted to judge our success by conversions, transformed lives, robust programming, and increasing reach. All of these things are good. For Isaiah, however, success looked quite different. Do we have a vision of God that provokes the humility that causes Isaiah to repent, to receive the burning coal of redemption, to enthusiastically volunteer for what turned out to be a sad commission, and to execute it faithfully to the end of his life?