Lessons from Isaiah
"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!’” (Isaiah 6:8). Familiar words from the prophet. But what was Isaiah being sent to do? First, the backstory. A few verses before, we read this: ‘'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 the following took place: "Then one of the seraphs 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.‘" (6:5-7)
Isaiah was a young prophet in Jerusalem. He served four kings over period of 50 years. The first of those, King Uzziah, had just died. Isaiah was given this vision showing the might and power of the Lord and he was overcome, feeling unworthy to represent God, at a time when he was perhaps depressed over the death of his earthly king. Then God took action, cleansed Isaiah, whom He had chosen for the task ahead. The task was to go and tell the 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.’" (6:9-10). Say what?
This is a teachable moment for Isaiah. But one which requires explanation. Ralph Wilson, author of our Bible study, helps us understand. "People who resist the truth can only be brought to repentance by telling them the truth again. But if they reject the truth a second time, and a third, and a fourth, they become increasingly hardened in their resistance – hard hearts, the Bible calls it." To sugar coat the truth, water it down or compromise might bring people to be "healed", and actually become convinced that they are true "believers". But then the teller is no longer a representative of God. Like Isaiah, the teller is forewarned about the hearer.
Takeaways from this somewhat obscure passage in Isaiah are:
- Most people will not hear the truth. They may profess to believe, but that is often only with conditions.
The teller must first be cleansed. Isaiah’s lips were burned, he was forgiven of his sins and he was thus prepared for the task for which he had been chosen.
- The truth is non-negotiable. We do not make deals with God. (Well, Abraham did on one occasion, but he was kind of on a different level). Nor does God's truth change.
- God’s emphasis here is on the teller, not the hearer. Those who speak for God have been given a special gift. They must become like Isaiah in their obedience to God and devotion to telling the Truth.
Wilson puts it this way. "Like it or not, the truth is the only thing that can heal. Some – a remnant – will hear and believe, but most, sadly, will become even more resistant."
From Pastor Sandra
When and Why do we celebrate Ascension and Pentecost?
Ascension Day is the fortieth day following Easter – on a Thursday; this year it is May 25th. Ascension Day commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven, following his death, burial and resurrection.
After his resurrection on Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his disciples during a period of forty days. He spoke to them about God and the future he had prepared for the people: the kingdom of God as we read in Acts 1:3: To them (apostles) he (Jesus) presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. After a period of forty days of these appearances, Jesus was taken up to heaven for the last time (Acts 1: 9-11). As the disciples watched him go, two angels appeared to them that, just as he ascended, assuring them that Jesus would return in glory.
In the Old Testament, Pentecost is the feast occurring fifty days after Passover. As the Passover feast celebrated the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, so Pentecost celebrated God’s gift of the Ten Commandments to Moses. Pentecost Sunday – fifty days after Easter and 10 days after Ascension Day – is a commemoration and celebration of the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the early church. John the Baptist prophesied of the first Pentecost when Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire as we read in Matthew 3:11: "I (John the Baptist) baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Jesus confirmed this prophecy with the promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. He showed himself to these men after his death on the cross and his resurrection, giving convincing proofs that he was alive.
Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit, from whom they would receive power to be his witnesses. After Jesus’ Ascension to heaven, the men returned to Jerusalem and joined together in prayer. On the Day of Pentecost, just as promised, the sound of a violent wind filled the house and the tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples did not stay in the room, but left to tell the world of Jesus. This was the beginning of the church as we know it.
Matthew 28: 18-20: "And Jesus came said to them (the eleven disciples), "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
May God Bless You