Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Here am I. Send me!"

Today I received awesome news from some good friends in British Columbia that their 2nd child was born. They named him Esaias, which I discovered is the Greek translation of Isaiah - one of the great prophets in the Old Testament. His name means 'The Lord saves.'

I was just reading through Isaiah's commission and it really spoke to me. He hears the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah replies...

"Here am I. Send me!"

What's interesting is that this commission occurs in the 6th chapter. You'd think that the book of Isaiah would start with his commission but he was already a prophet prior to this. Dr. Allen Ross, a former Professor of Old Testament at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, points out that this was "a call to a new and more difficult task that had to be performed." He then goes through this exegetical expositional process that involves doing thorough word studies; analyzing poetic structure and literary structures; solving textual problems;
explaining syntactical relationships; biblical theology; and developing an accurate and meaningful exposition of the text. In other words, a thorough and proper way of studying the bible.

Since I don't really have time to do that right now, I will borrow some of Dr. Ross' findings on this passage - particularly on verse 8. In the previous two verses, there is a sanctification process that involves a symbolic touching a live coal to Isaiah's mouth. In verse 5, Isaiah is convicted by the holiness and awesomeness of the Lord and acknowledges that his lips are unclean - not necessarily referring to sin but not really acceptable to God. Only after this sanctification does Isaiah hear the voice of the Lord.

The way Isaiah responds is also significant. Abraham responds to God similarly in Genesis 1:22 with, "Here I am." Isaiah boldly responds and asks for God's divine authority in sending him. He didn't say, "I'll do it." Instead, he asked God to send him.

As a disciple of Christ, there is the great commission recorded in the gospels to go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. To make disciples of all nations and to teach them to obey the commands of Jesus. It's an imperative that applies to all Christians in any kind of work, school or play - not just "international workers."

I've heard many people talk about hearing the voice of God and knowing God's will. How when we pray it's often not a conversation between us and God but a soliloquy. It ends up being an exhaustive list of things we want God to do for us like a big wish list for Santa. A conversation should involve both speaking and listening and it's the listening part that's so easy to miss. I'm learning to take time to not only talk to God but to also be still before Him and let Him speak to me. There are so many decisions in my life that require guidance and I really need some divine wisdom to make the best choices. There are some more simple choices like whether enrolling in a Christian Development School class is the best use of my time. Or perhaps investing in a car in the coming years so that I commute easier. Others are much more complicated. Where does God want me to go after I graduate? What does He want me to specialize in? Who should I marry?

God commanded Isaiah to proclaim a message of judgment to the people. There really aren't any pleasantries in being tasked to deliver bad news. But there's purpose in the message and that is to bring about repentance. One of my big concerns is not having the courage and faith to respond as Isaiah did if God says to me "Will you sell all you possess and give to the poor?" or "Will you leave your house, brother, father, and mother for My sake; and give up the comforts and pleasures in life to work in a developing country to care for those that are suffering most?" Because that just might be part of the cost of discipleship.

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