Do You Serve? – Isaiah 6:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 12, 2014 AM
Are You Being Served was a quintessentially British comedy that ran from 1972 to 1985. It was about a department store in London, which was very traditional. The social class structure within the store’s workforce, and how the clerks viewed and served its customers, was the source of the series character interaction. Sadly, what was often portrayed is exactly how many in our day view the service of others. Don’t you hate it when you go into a store and the clerks treat you as if it is your privilege that they serve you? Much of Christianity has morphed into such a ungodly notion as well. Instead taking the message of God to the lost, we ignore His call, and ask that the church to serve us!
Isaiah was either ministering or worshipping, or perhaps doing some other thing in the temple when God called him in a very vivid way to a life of service. Most of God’s folks are not called to serve Him in such a dramatic way, however, how Isaiah was called and what he was called to do for God can remind us that we are called to the same service. Therefore, this section of Scripture begs that we answer the question, “Do you serve?”
As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. We begin to realize just how holy He is and how ungodly we are. Isaiah teaches us that we can serve…
I. When we recognize God’s presence! (Vv. 1-4)
1. Isaiah presents to us a specific and very identifiable vision from God. Visions are recorded for other prophets, but this is the only one for Isaiah. We learn that it occurred “In the year that King Uzziah died.” Uzziah reigned for 52 years, during which he and his people had been prosperous. Victorious in war, he was also successful in commerce. The later years of his life were clouded, but on the whole, his reign had been a time of great well-being. His son and successor was a young man of about 25 years and now there were the dark clouds of war. It was during this time of uncertainty that Isaiah, “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” God was still in charge, creator of all things, lofty and holy. In fact,” Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” Some suggest their wings were symbolic of reverence, humility, and service. In actuality it may suggest that being in the presence of God they covered their eyes, as Moses did, covered their feet as an act purity since feet were seen as dirty and crass, and they flew to signify their immediate and active service to God. “Seraphs” which means “to burn,” possibly suggests their zeal for God or that they were reflective of His Shekinah glory. We discover that “they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” Their cry is significant in that they cry out three times the holy nature of God, which means that in fact He is indeed holy. Wherever there is creation, God is, and, there is nowhere God is not. He is omniscient and omnipresent. This was more than a vision because it also manifested itself in that “At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke!” We see the Shekinah glory of God, his holiness, and the cloud that signified His presence with His people in the wilderness! WOW! Isaiah had no problem in recognizing that he was in the presence of God. We serve when we realize God’s presence!
EXAMPLE: I firmly believe Isaiah needed this vision of God because it would have to serve him for his entire lifetime of ridicule, hardship, and eventually his own capture and relocation. Christians do not need the same kind of vision to serve God. Isaiah lived when there was no Messiah. Jesus would remind Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV) And God reminds us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV) In fact, as Christians, we “are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone!” (Ephesians 2:19-20 NIV) We are now “the people of God!” (1 Peter 2:10 NIV) God’s presence is always with us as His people and we serve when we realize God’s presence!
She found it difficult to give up certain things and relationships in her life, but Lisa discovered that God would not use her for His service until she did. We learn from Isaiah that we can serve…
II. When we surrender our sin to God! (Vv. 5-7)
1. As we abide in Christ, walk with Him moment by moment something wonderful and terrible happens – we begin to hear His voice and experience His presence. We begin to realize how often we fall short of the glory of God. Isaiah discovered this as well. This vision of God’s majesty, holiness, and glory made Isaiah realize that he was a sinner. This is a common occurrence when God’s people come into His presence! Ezekiel, Job, Peter, Paul and John all responded in the same way. Isaiah cries, “Woe to me!” And then he realizes, “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!” Too many think too lightly of their sin. We puff ourselves up with our pride, our goodness, and our compassionate feelings, but all fail in comparison to the holiness of God! The sinful soul that has once seen God by faith in Christ must confess “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18 NIV) or as Paul did when he declared, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV) The answer is found only in the cleansing power of a holy God, “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.” Our sin takes a special compensation. Our sin must be thoroughly burned away, cleansed, and purified to be in the presence of a holy God. “With it,” Isaiah remarks, “he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’” Here we see the application of pardoning grace! Paul would say we were immoral, sexually impure, idol worshipers, adulterers, prostituted ourselves; we were thieves, greedy, drunks, slanderers, or swindlers “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NIV) The burning coal of Christ’s blood has purified us! And that is the first step in our life of service to God! Isaiah experienced all this for the same reason we do as well. We serve when we surrender our sin to God!
EXAMPLE: The cleansing significance of fire plays an important role throughout Scripture. Fire came down from heaven to consume the evil and good sacrifices, the sacrifices in the temple and tabernacle were burnt up, and fire rained down on the evil of mankind to obliterate it from the face of the earth! Just as fire cleansed the sinful mouth of Isaiah, signifying his cleansing by God, Paul teaches us that “no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid; which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV) Service is a life of surrender to Jesus! Isaiah teaches us that we serve when we surrender our sin to God!
Joe said he did not like ministering to certain kinds of folks, guess where God sent him. Isaiah teaches us that we can serve…
III. When we are willing to go where God sends! (Vv. 8-11)
1. After Isaiah grasped the presence of holy God, he recognized his sin condition. He was now ready to be used of God. He writes, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” The question “Who will go?” did not mean God did not know or that He hoped someone would respond. God asked the question to give Isaiah an opportunity to serve. Isaiah understood that Israel needed cleansing as well. He readily responds, “Here am I. Send me!” God’s people should be ready to serve God when He calls them. We discover the same kind of willingness in Mathew, who although a hated tax collector was called by Jesus and immediately, “Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9 NIV) This shows Isaiah’s confidence in God. He was now ready to bear God’s message to his countrymen. All believers should respond in like manner. God gives Isaiah an unusual command, “Go and tell this people” meaning the Israelites, “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.” In other words, Isaiah would go and speak God’s message, but the people would not respond. They would not listen, they would refuse to understand or comprehend, and therefore be hardened by God’s warning. Isaiah is stunned and asks, “For how long, O Lord?” God tells him it would be until Israel was utterly destroyed! We can serve when we are willing to go where God sends!
EXAMPLE: Les Lamborn writes for RBC, “Sometimes when the infinite God conveys His thoughts to finite man, mystery is the result. For example, there’s a profound verse in the book of Psalms that seems to present more questions than answers: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants’ (116:15 NIV). I shake my head and wonder how that can be. I see things with earthbound eyes, and I have a tough time seeing what is precious.” Lamborn continues by stating, “We begin to unwrap the mystery, though, when we consider that what is precious to the Lord is not confined to earthly blessings.” Isaiah and the Israelites were not going to like the message he would have to convey from God, but that is what Isaiah had volunteered to do. When we come to God we come to a life of service, this is precious to God, and we can serve when we are willing to go where God sends!
We serve when we recognize God’s presence, we serve when we surrender our sin to God, and we serve when we are willing to go where God sends us!
This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.