The book of Isaiah
How to avoid just going through the motions.
I was thinking getting here, and this is probably a good day to think about it. Um, I’ve been to Belize a few times on some missions trip, and I don’t know if you’ve been to Belize or not, uh, or know anything about it, but Belize can get pretty hot, you know, and I know people go there for vacations and they go out on the water where we are in the camp.
It’s inland, it’s near the, uh, the capital of Belmopan. And, uh, when we’re there, it’s right at the end of July. So it’s a pretty hot time. Uh, like, so during the day, uh, almost a hundred, not quite and very high humidity during the evening, it cools way down sometimes almost to 90. And, uh, so you’re really feeling, and, and I am not necessary, certainly a hot weather person, but we’re there and we enjoy, and, and I love speaking to the camp and I love doing all that part there.
And one of the things that happens that, that camp actually, probably almost any word of life camp. Is there a time they have, they call it the bonfire or the campfire. And, and the reason for that is it’s a time, especially to direct people’s hearts and minds to really think about giving themselves completely to the Lord in terms of service and dedication.
And here I am, this is the first time I was in the, in Belize. It was especially hot. And I know what’s going on. I know what’s there. I’m going to be preaching. And all of a sudden they have this bonfire, like you couldn’t believe like it was roaring bonfire, flames. I don’t know how high in the air, this huge fire and I’m standing there and I’m feeling it cause it’s right against my back.
That’s what I needed more heat. It was an amazing time though. Because as we talked, as we shared, has God worked in hearts. Uh, so many of the young people and even the staff really said, God, yeah, I really do want you. And we talk about Isaiah. Yeah. At least I did that time. And that’s who we’re going to look at today because you know, Isaiah is such a great example with that of someone.
Who was following the Lord, who would have said he loved the Lord, but he came to a place where God really gripped his heart. It was towards the early part of his ministry. And I think as we look at these things, we can really begin to understand something about what our heart is like and what he wants us to be and what he wants us to look at and examine so that, so that we’re not just.
You know, you know, the phrase, just going through the motions, we’re, we’re really sitting there and we’re really standing there before the Lord, and we’re really moving in our whole world wherever we are, that we are proclaiming who Jesus Christ is. Yes. That, that we are letting people know that he. Has our lives.
And Isaiah is a tremendous example. Isaiah, let me tell you a little bit about him in case you don’t remember. Isaiah was one of the major prophets. We don’t know a lot about him, except from the book. We do know that he’s sir, during the time of King, you Zaja all the way through Hezekiah. At least he knew those people and he spent a lot of time with them.
And those names may not mean a lot to you. But that was a hard time in the, in the whole, all history of Judah use Aja was mostly a godly King that, but people were walking away from the Lord. You know, people weren’t really following after men. And as Isaiah writes, you get the idea very much that much of Judah was taking time and they were beginning to follow idols.
They were taking time and just, just focusing on themselves. They were forgetting that the God was the one who was supposed to be leading them and they just look to themselves. It was all hard, hard time and God in his sovereignty and mercy and grace spoke to his heart and he did it in an unusual way.
And we’ll look at it in a little bit. And this is what began. His whole ministry. This was what he focused on. This is what he said. This is what God it has led me to suggest is what he leads us to as well. I mean, it’s easy to go through life sometimes and saying, God, yeah, you can have this much of me. Or you can have this part of my existence, or you can have this much, but God, the rest of it’s mine.
And I hope that’s not your case, but I’ve talked to enough people and I know what I’m like to think that, you know, there are times that we kind of want God just to be this much of us. And I I’m going to try and challenge us. I’m going to, to help us understand the, what went through Isaiah’s life is what needs to go in ours.
So let’s look at it. It’s Isaiah chapter six is where we’re going to look. And this is like I said, although it’s the chapter six, it’s talking about the beginning of his ministry. And these are the things that I’m going to say. There are four things he recognizes that absolutely changes what he is like.
Isaiah chapter six, beginning in verse one, we’re going to read through verse nine, actually just the first part of nine. Okay. And he says this by the spirit of God. This is why it was recorded in the year that King used Zion died. I, this is Isaiah. I saw the Lord’s seated on a throne high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple above him were Cerus each with six wings with two wings, they covered their faces with two, they covered their feet and with two, they were flying and they were calling to one another.
Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory at the sound of their voices. The doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. That was the vision he had. And this is what Isaiah responded. Woe is me. I cried. I am ruined for I’m 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 one of the serfs 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 Ben. 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 to me? And he said that his God said, go and tell this people and he gives the message that he’s to tell for four things. I think Isaiah recognizes in this time. It’s amazing. When you think about the whole, the dream big dream. I, I do, um, I quite a bit, and I may say something about my sleep pattern and everything else.
I think it might say something about my personality because I dream and a lot of exciting things. I tell people I’m usually the hero in my dreams. You know, I kind of like that. I have some money, exciting things going on in my life. I’ve never had anything like this and I don’t think I really want to.
Isaiah, as he saw there, he saw like God in the temple and all his glory, it was an amazing thing that he saw. He saw what was there. And as he did, I would say the first thing he recognized was the holiness of God. You see the surface were there and these are like, angels are beings in there. They’re sitting there saying to one another very, very loudly.
Holy Holy, Holy is the Lord. God almighty. He’s declaring. They are declaring the holiness of who God is. Holiness defined the easiest thing. And you probably know this, but holiness very simply means a is separated or set apart. But, but taken farther as you look at it, it’s really, especially that, that he is perfect in goodness and righteousness.
That that’s what holiness in its most simple form is. But that’s who God is. As we do the getting connected class, we talk about the person of God, a little bit. And one of the things I ask and I’d ask you to think about, what’s the first thing that you think about when someone says, God, what do you think about, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
I used to say God, and you would say, and, uh, I just did that a couple of weeks ago and are getting connected. And, and there were several people, I mean, they said, Oh, well, I think of love. I think a power, I think creator, I think life and those are all good. And those are all true. But I would also say that as we think about who God is in all of his character in all that he is, we need to remember that he is Holy.
That he is absolutely pure that he is absolutely set up part and separated from anything that is ungodly. That is his nature because out of that, that begins to explain a lot about us and what Isaiah recognized here in just a minute, just to understand the holiness of God. And God, as, as he is in existence, it shows what holiness is like in living it out.
He has no part of sin. He is separated from sin. Absolutely. In a very real sense. He can’t abide sin. I’ve used the word pure. He is pure in everything that he is. That’s the heart of holiness. That’s the life of holding us. And that is who God is. You, you know that, and you remember that that’s one Isaiah came to us and I think it was significant in Isaiah’s life because he had been, uh, he was beginning there.
This part is a prophet. Uh, he had been there. We don’t know how old he was for sure. I don’t think he was, uh, very old at that point. A young man probably. But it seems as though he hadn’t been thinking so much about the holiness of God, it’s possible that he was kind of wrapped up in everything that Judah was doing at that point, being religious, doing religious things, but not really having a heart for God.
Does that make sense to you? Now as I look at that, I think, yeah, he saw that he sees who God is. I mean, it was, we recognize that God is Holy. I was thinking about this. And you remember in the new Testament, remember when Peter was out fishing, you remember the story? He was he’d come back. He hadn’t caught anything.
And it was, it was a bad night for fishermen. He gets there and you remember the story? Jesus has been there teaching and he, and he says, Peter, throw your nets on the other side. And Peter says, what do you know about fishing? But he did it. And you remember he caught this huge amount of fish. And what did Peter do?
Do you remember in Luke chapter five, verse eight. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’s knees and said, go away from me, Lord, I’m a sinful man. And when I first looked at that several years ago, I thought, why did he say that? That seems like a strange comment until I begin to realize Peter understood.
The, the only one who could recognize the fish were there wrong time of day, everything else. And, and have those fish be caught. It had to be God. And he recognized that he falls down to the knees of Jesus and says, get away from me. I am a sinful man. I am not worthy, which is true in, of, in and of himself.
The holiness of God, I believe we need to grab a hold of that. And I believe that Isaiah, this is the first thing he recognized. He recognized absolutely the holiness of God and what that meant. The next thing as he goes here, and this is still part of a vision going on. The next thing as he responds to it is.
He says, wow, I am in trouble. He says this verse verse five, Whoa is me. I cried. I am ruined for I’m a man of unclean lips. I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord almighty. The second thing he recognized was his own sinfulness. Okay. Yeah. He recognized what was really going on in his life.
I was thinking about this. Like, you may have seen this, you may have done it yourself. You’ve been in a room that’s been in white for a long time, then painted white. Yeah, no. And you know, in your mind, it’s old, white, you go in there. Oh, this is the room that’s white, you know, but over a period of time, what happens?
Punch two white paint. What happens to things? It begins to maybe yellow, get a little dirty, but every time you walk in there, your mind says it’s white. But if you hold up a pure white piece of paper or something in front of that wall, suddenly it’s like, Whoa, that’s not white anymore. That’s what Isaiah saw.
He had been doing religious things. He would have been considered a good guy, but in light of God’s holiness, he recognized. I am totally undone. I mean, partly in the sensor, because he said I’ve seen them and he had in his vision, but he says, especially I have, I live among people of unclean lips. I have unclean lips.
We’re going to suggest he recognized his own sinfulness that he and the people around him were living in disobedience. Th th they were taking God that lightly, as you look at things that he writes about that they just weren’t sure that God was everything they wanted to pour themselves. spending time with idols.
And I don’t know that Isaiah was, but the people around him, many of them were, they were more concerned for themselves. And they were about God and his character and his holiness. And he lived among those people and he had some hours, he thinks he has bought into that. I live among people of unclean lips and that can go for a lot of different things.
And then he says, he says, I have this specific thing sin. I have unclean lips now. I don’t know exactly what that means. It’s not as I read different, nobody knows exactly what that means, but it might mean this. He may have had a trouble with the way that he talked. He may have had maybe a little bit of a potty mouth.
I don’t know that that’s the case. I do think it is much more likely that he was careless in house, how he spoke about God. I think things came out of his mouth that, that were not always honoring to God. He may have used the Lord’s name, uh, unjustly. I don’t know. No one knows. All he says is I’ve got a problem here.
And I know that I’ve got a problem. I, I see what it is. He doesn’t say it this way, but I see it as sin. And I know that it is separated me from him. It may have been even things he was eating, but whatever it was, it was a specific sin or sins that were tearing him apart. And he recognized that he recognized his own sinfulness and every one of us.
Who have come to Christ by faith have had to recognize our own sinfulness. Haven’t we, I can remember that when I was 12 years old and I don’t know how bad a person can be at 12 years old, but I knew my own little heart and, and it was my conviction of sin. And what sin was that brought me to Christ, same thing with you at some point.
You have to recognize that there is sin. This is the gospel. Really? This is the message of the gospel. As much as we don’t always like it. It is true that we are sinful people. The Bible says, God says we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. And we are guilty because of that. We might have different sins. We might do different things, but it is sin.
We live in sin and that sin, the Bible says condemns us. Ephesians two one says that we are dead bed in our room, trespasses and sins. There is no spiritual life in us, and there is nothing that we can do about that ourselves. And I can hear some of you saying, as you’re sitting here, as you’re listening, Jim, that is a terrible message.
That is what, where is the love? Where is the hope? Why are you saying these things? I’m saying these things, because that’s exactly what the gospel is. The beginning part of it to recognize our own sinfulness. But there is a message of hope and that comes to the next one. As Isaiah gets here, he recognizes God’s complete forgiveness.
As he says here, beginning with verse, um, uh, verse six, then one of the Sarah’s flew into me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the alter. With it, he touched my mouth and said, see, this has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away. And your sin, a cone for, yeah. Those of us who are not brought up in a Jewish heritage that we weren’t there with the, all the sacrifices, everything we may not completely understand, but this is a great picture here from the old Testament of the sacrifices, especially on the day of atonement.
That there were the sacrifices that were done that needed to be completed for the atonement that God was bringing to all of Israel, all of Judah, and that there was this big Walter and the picture here is that the sheriff took, took a coal from that fire, that fire that was burning that sacrifice. And he uses that it’s a picture.
Of what God has done for us and what Isaiah recognized in this whole thing that God provides forgiveness. And in this case, I would say he accepts. God’s complete forgiveness is he, God does provide a way for forgiveness here for our Isaiah. He pictured it through the Sarah, bringing the toll, Coles and touching his lips is the idea of the atonement.
He says, you you’re, your sins are forgiven. They’re put away. They’re covered, but far more than that. And Isaiah writes about it as he writes through much of his book, he talks about looking ahead to the Messiah, the one who would come, that would be Jesus. Wouldn’t it. And Jesus is the one who is the one who has provided atonement for us complete satisfaction before God that our sins have been paid for.
And as awful as the story is that our sins condemn us and pull us away from God is just as great and, and complete. The whole story is that God provides salvation for us through the person of Jesus Christ. It’s nothing that I do. It was nothing that Isaiah did. He didn’t go get the coal. He didn’t do the touching of the lips.
He didn’t do any of that. It was all what God had provided. And for us, it is all what Jesus does for us. Isn’t it. He is the one who provides a way of forgiveness. He’s the one who provides a way of salvation. Yeah. In enrollments, Romans three 24 and 25 as Paul writes, sir, by the spirit of God. And he says this and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
That’s what Christ did God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement. Through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance, he had left the sins committed beforehand, unpunished he’s saying Christ came our atonement. He covered our sins.
He forgave our sins. Absolutely. The Psalms, the Psalmist talks about the God removes our sins from us. As far as the East is from the West and a measurable distance. He declares that he actually does forgive us in Ephesians one seven in him. We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace and in Ephesians again and forward.
32, be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving one another, just as in Christ, God forgave you, he forgives us. He forgives you. He has forgiven me now because of what we do, but because of what Christ did for me and, and Isaiah understood that you understood that completely. And the last thing, then he recognizes.
Is that he can then truly, absolutely serve God. You know, once I was the enemy of God, according to the scriptures, and now by faith, I’m a child of God. I can now serve him. And Isaiah says this, then I heard the voice of the Lord saying whom shall I sin and who will go for us? And I said, here am I send to me?
And God said, go and tell this people. Once we have been invited Christ to be our savior. Once we are redeemed, once we are born again, we have the great capacity and the great joy that we can actually serve this. Holy God that we talked about, that we saw about, you know, I don’t have to do something to make God love me anymore.
I don’t have to do certain things I put here. No penance is required. Is he, because it’s not what we do. It’s what Christ has done. I don’t have to do certain things. I’ve seen pictures of people throughout the world. They’re called. Yeah. You may have seen them who, who whipped them and possibly carry ’em across somehow thinking that they are gaining faith or with God, by doing these things may be rejecting their sin, but we don’t have to do that.
There’s a movie called the mission several years old here now. Germany irons was a guy in the character. They were, he was a, um, a Spanish can Keester daughter in, uh, in Peru. And he’d done some horrible things to the native tribes there. And then God changed his heart and part of the movie. Then you see him as he’s trying to work out his own sin, carrying this heavy burden at one place, he’s carrying this huge burden up this huge waterfall.
And it’s a moving picture, but I’m sitting there saying no, no, we don’t have to do anything else. Christ has already done it. And since that’s the case, then I can serve him with a whole heart and people will tell me, but Jim I’m so bad. Yeah, you may be. So it was the thief on the cross. God says he forgives, you might say, but, but I keep making mistakes.
I keep sending. Yeah, that happens. We’re sorry. It happens. But God says, if we confess our sins, he is faithful. And just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness confessing to him, confessing to God himself. Yeah. God enables us then to serve him, not just in full time ministry, there are those who do that, but you know, in your life where you live, what you do, whatever your vocation might be, you say, I I’m going to serve you.
Have you trusted Christ as your savior, then you have the opportunity. You have the joy and the privilege of saying. I want to serve you. The testimony of Isaiah, I think is powerful. I mean, he’s a guy who’d been going through life doing even religious good things, but then God appeared to him and showed him, what was it?
His heart. And they need to understand the absolute holiness of God. He needed to know that he needed to see his own heart. He needed to understand the forgiveness that God provides and need to understand that he’s immediately set free to serve God. Is that your testimony? It can be just as you have trusted Christ, you can serve him.
There’s people. We know. Aubrey Aubrey was a teacher. And God dripped her heart so much. Now she serves and less of us in Greece, among refugee children. My friend Craig was a businessman. God gripped his heart, showed him these things. And now he runs a camp in Nicaragua. There was a guy named Margiela.
Turno the school where I went. RG was a brilliant engineer. He embraced God with a whole heart. And he built a business that poured into the lives of people around the world. You can be that wherever you are, whatever you do, you can say along with Isaiah here am I send to me? That’s the message of Isaiah and that’s the message.
That God desires for us, trust him, and then serve him. Isn’t that? Terrific. Let’s pray, father, we thank you so much for the example of Isaiah for what he teaches us by the his life. God, take your words. I pray. Burn them into our hearts by your spirit. And help us to come to the place where we trust you.
And then we say, along with Isaiah here, my Lord, send me in Christ’s name. Amen. Thank you. Go and serve the Lord this week and enjoy him with your whole heart.