Isaiah 6-8: God-Sized Vision and Mission
September 3, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Rather than attempt to explain each of these chapters—so rich with meaning—in such a short space of these few words, I’m going to focus particularly on chapter 6 and a few parts of chapter 7.
Chapter 6 is the great famous vision calling of Isaiah. Note that at the heart of the vision is the holiness of God. This holiness is emphasized by the thrice repeated word “holy” (6:3), for in Hebrew the way to say that something is very holy is to say “holy, holy” and therefore saying that God is “holy, holy, holy” is to mean he is extraordinarily holy. This holiness then leads to Isaiah’s repentance, or cry of desperation (6:5), and the extension of God’s forgiveness through the vision (6:7), and then Isaiah’s commission (6:8-13), to a ministry which would not have wide success, but would in the end result in the holy seed that is like a stump in the land (6:13). There would be a future for God’s people through his “seed,” the word, and through the Christ who is to come.
This pattern of ministry calling is typical as well as particular. When we are called to a work, it is often the case that we first are given a fresh vision of who God is. This vision will drive us to our knees. And then out of the vision comes the mission that God gives us. Do you see God as high and lifted up? Do you see him as holy, holy, holy? Do you wonder how it is possible that you, in your uncleanness, could ever amount to much or do much for God? It could be that God is preparing you for a new task, a new mission for him and for his glory.
Conversely, if you complacently think of God as a small God, and your role in his kingdom as meaning that God is really pretty pleased to have you on his team, it may well be that you need to ask God for a fresh vision of holiness. Let that drive you to our knees, and from there to fresh mission for God.
Chapter 7 has the famous prophecy of the virgin who shall conceive and bear a child and call him Immanuel (7:14)—which means God with us. Those who insist on the word virgin being originally little more than a young woman fail to wrestle with the fact that a young woman bearing a child is hardly newsworthy. On the other hand, if this is primarily (or only) about Mary as a virgin bearing the Christ child Immanuel, in what sense is this “sign” of any encouragement to Ahaz in his original situation? The answer appears to be with the nature of Old Testament prophecy and prophets, who saw the future under the inspiration of God much like we see a mountain range—one mountain is close, and the next appears almost as close as the first. But it is not until you traverse the first mountain that you realize the one behind has a large valley between it and the first. So it often is with prophecy: the coming of Christ and his second coming are often collided in the Old Testament, and yet separate events as we now know.
What is your vision for God? To answer that question, you must first answer what is your vision of God. A small vision of God will lead to a small vision for God. Find yourself amazed at the holiness of God and before too long, you may find yourself with a God-sized mission to match your God-sized vision.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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