Called and Sanctified – Isaiah 6

Isaiah did not have any doubts about his call and commission He could pinpoint the time when, the place where, and the manner how he was called. It happened in 758 B.C.. “the year that king Uzziah died”, within the precincts of the temple at Jerusalem.

Three monosyllables mark the stages of his call to be the Lord’s servant There was first the “Woe” of confession, v.5, then the “Lo” of cleansing, v.7. and finally the “Go” of commission, v.9.

“Woe is me. for I am undone” is the confession of the sinner, when he sees himself as he really is, unclean and unworthy In chapters 1 to 5 we find recorded eight woes which Isaiah declared against others, but in chapter 6 he declares one against himself. The prophet had seen two kings, Uzziah and the Lord of hosts, vv. 1-5. Uzziah. the ruler of Judah, had been marvellously helped until he was strong, when he committed an unholy act of disobedience to God’s revealed will by intruding into the priestly office As a punishment for this, he lived the rest of his life - and then died - as a leper. The law required a leper to cry, “Unclean, unclean”, Lev 13. 45. and quite likely Uzziah was compelled to do the same. It is significant that Isaiah, when confronted with the intrinsic holiness of the Lord of hosts, as proclaimed by the seraphim and attested by the presence of the brazen altar, called out, “… unclean . . unclean . . “, Isa. 6. 5 In effect, he was taking the place of a spiritual leper! His unclean lips would need to be cleansed if they were to be used to speak effectively for the Lord to others whose lips were defiled

“Lo, this hath touched thy lips” introduces cleansing by the sacrifice. The seraph which touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal from the altar announced to him, “Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged”, v.7; cf. Psalm 51. 7 where purging with hyssop is reminiscent of the ceremony which accompanied the proclamation of the leper as clean. Lev. 14. 2. In cleansing the prophet, the Lord was preparing him to be “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use”, 2 Tim. 2. 21 Thus, when he hears the challenge, “Who will go for us?” he immediately responds, “Here am I; send me”. None of the seraphim present nor any of God’s holy angels could answer the divine challenge as Isaiah did Only one who had himself been cleansed and sanctified could cam/ the message of the Lord to the people. An angel could direct Cornelius to send for the apostle Peter, Acts 10. 3-6, but only one who “also” was “a man” could proclaim to Cornelius the message of the remission of sins, vv 26, 43. Praise God. this treasure is entrusted to earthen vessels, 2 Cor. 4. 7.

“Go, and tell” is the command of the Sovereign. The ministry entrusted to the prophet was not going to prove popular. The people’s ears would be deaf to it, their eyes blinded to it, and their understanding so darkened that they would not receive it. When God’s messenger enquired as to how long he would have to continue prophesying, the Lord’s reply was that he would need to go on until only a small godly remnant was left to hear him. And yet he went, content to do the bidding of his God and to leave the results with Him.

For the rest of Isaiah’s life the vision of the thrice-holy God was to have a tremendous influence on his oral and written ministry. His favourite title for the Lord was “the holy one of Israel”, which he employed almost 30 times How necessary that, like Isaiah, we too should come to appreciate our God as the thrice-holy Lord of hosts. As to Israel of old, so to us today, God’s word is, “Be ye holy, for I am holy”, Lev, 11. 14, 1 Pet. 1. 16. According to the New Testament, practical holiness is

  1. the reflection of God’s character in us The Lord Jesus addressed His Father as “Holy Father”, John 17. 11. As the incarnate Son of God, He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”. Heb. 7. 26. The third Person in the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, who indwells us. Thus we acclaim the Father. Son. and Spirit as a Trinity of holiness to whom we ascribe all glory, honour, and power.
  2. the recognition of God’s purpose for us We have been chosen in Christ that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Eph 1. 4 Cf. 5. 27; Col 1. 22.
  3. the product of God’s grace through us. Our sanctification is God’s will for us, 1 Thess 4. 3. He chastens us “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness”, Heb 12. 10.
  4. the display of God’s attributes by us. We have been constituted a royal priesthood and a holy nation to show forth the virtues of Him who has called us into His marvellous light, 1 Pet 2. 9

To each of us comes the call to service - have we responded. “Lord, send me”? To each of us comes the call to holiness - have we responded. “More holiness give me”?


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