Men of the Bible
His name means: "The Lord Has Saved"
His work: An eighth-century BC prophet, Isaiah's message was primarily directed toward Judah and Jerusalem, warning God's people of coming judgment on their sins. His character: He was a learned man of principle and integrity and of deep humility. His sorrow: Isaiah was grieved that God's people were unwilling to repent. His triumph: Isaiah had a vision of God that profoundly shaped his long prophetic ministry. Key Scriptures: Isaiah 6
A Look at the Man
The people noticed the difference in Isaiah. Rumor had spread that he had seen a vision in the temple that day. No one knew exactly what—or whom—he had seen, but whatever had happened, Isaiah was a changed man.
What Isaiah had experienced in the temple was one of history's most profound commissioning ceremonies, and because of its power, Isaiah's course was changed like a flood tearing down a riverbank.
Isaiah had grown up on the right side of the tracks. His family was from the royal tribe of Judah. His pedigree and command of the language marked his stature and his message. After the vision in the temple, for almost sixty years his assignment included ministry in the courts of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. So naturally Isaiah might have been tempted to place himself above the people to whom he preached. But because of the temple visitation, the preacher never forgot that he too was counted among the sinners. Just because he had been gifted and called to deliver God's message didn't excuse him from the need for repentance.
Isaiah had witnessed something very few mortals have seen before his time or since. He was allowed the privilege of seeing a glimpse of God's glory. The experience tore away any shroud of pride that may have covered him, replacing it with a sense of wonder and humility. It was as though the living God was saying to the prophet, "Don't forget who you're talking about, Isaiah. Never forget whom you serve."
And there was the searing heat of the burning ember. Why couldn't God have just told me of my forgiveness? Why the coal? Why this pain? Isaiah must have wondered over the succeeding weeks as the scabs on his lips slowly healed. But God had a purpose in this, too. He wanted Isaiah to remember the pain of repentance, the agony of confession. And he touched the part of Isaiah's body that he was using to represent the Holy One of Israel: his mouth. No doubt it was several weeks, perhaps months, before Isaiah could speak without physical pain. God's mission had been perfectly accomplished.
And now Isaiah's message of the people's sinfulness included the promise of redemption in the coming of the Savior: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
The sparkle in Isaiah's eyes didn't come from a strident preacher who delighted in shouting condemnation, but in the words of deliverance through the Son of God who would come to save the people from their sins—including the sins of the woeful prophet.Reflect On: Isaiah 25:1–5 Praise God: For his sovereignty and power, for his mercy and his grace. Offer Thanks: For calling us to repentance and for providing a Savior. Confess: Our casual attitude about being in his holy presence in worship and our cavalier attitude about our own sin. Ask God: To give you a glimpse of his glory—an understanding of what Isaiah must have experienced that day in the temple. Tell him that you’re willing to be sent, to be his ambassador, his mouthpiece.