Can You Listen and Repent?
In the year that King Uzziah died, God lifted the prophet Isaiah in a vision to the holy throne room. He saw the Lord sitting high and lifted up, surrounded in praise by the angels. In response, Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)
In a moment of clarity, Isaiah saw himself as he really was. He saw his people as they really were. He saw God as he really is. And in response, he fell on his face before the Lord. He was humbled and repentant. He understood the wickedness of his sin. He felt his depravity. He would have accepted his condemnation. But he received forgiveness. An angel flew to him, and with a burning coal from the altar, touched his mouth and made him clean. His guilt was gone. His sin atoned. Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord, and it freed him.
God then needed a man who understood forgiveness to go to his people preaching of forgiveness. Who would he send? Isaiah pipes up, “Send me!” So God does. But Isaiah was given a tough assignment.
“Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)
God’s prophet takes God’s word to God’s people, but they are unable to hear. The greatest task of their lives is one they fail to accomplish because they’ve traded the glory of God for the glory of man. They have exalted themselves above the Lord, and in so doing, have failed to attain the glory they seek.
The world Isaiah stepped into was a world at war with God. Jesus stepped into the same world. But the war was subtle. Shots weren’t fired all at once. Time was still pregnant, awaiting the fullness when all hell’s fury swelled toward the cross. God came offering peace, but the Israelites of Isaiah’s day, and the Israelites of Jesus’s day, refused to accept the terms. Instead, they waged war.
All Isaiah’s hearers had to do was listen and repent. But they couldn’t. Can you?