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It is estimated that by the end of the 1st century there were 5384 Christians in the entire world.
What started out as a movement with the 12 disciples soon spread to thousands of people from multiple countries in the Middle East and beyond.
These followers of Christ had seen Jesus’ earthly ministry, they had heard His teachings for years and they had an understanding of His saving power and their need of saving.
Think for a moment, though, if these followers had quit the ministry after Jesus ascended back into heaven.
What if these thousands of followers who had seen and heard Jesus’ message clearly had simply called it quits because life got hard and they no longer had the physical person of Jesus guiding and helping them along the way?
They wouldn’t have been obedient followers!
Jesus Himself told these men that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the most remote parts of the earth ().
Understanding Jesus’ message, seeing His holiness and knowing that humanity falls woefully short of the standard naturally leads a huge emphasis on missions and sharing the hope and truth of the Gospel message!
We see that in the life of the 1st century church, but we also see it in the Old Testament prophets.
gives us a glimpse at Isaiah’s calling to Go out and tell the people the message that the Lord has.
The incredible part of Isaiah’s calling by God is that the message is not a pleasant one.
Often times whenever we think of calling we think of hope and blessing, what we find in is nearly the exact opposite.
Even though God’s message for Isaiah is not one that will make him popular with the people, Isaiah obediently goes out and preaches this message.
That should be our response to the Gospel message.
Let’s read this text!
God’s holiness leads to missions (8)
Seeing the Lord’s holiness, hearing His message and understanding the penalty of your sin leads to having your heart broken and open to share the Gospel message to the nations.
is the basis for many songs and sermons regarding Isaiah’s willingness to actually go out and share God’s message to the people.
Let’s dive into this verse a little deeper and expound upon the context of what happened in a very short period of time.
Just before this, in verse 5, Isaiah could not speak because he knew that he was unholy and he was in the presence of the Lord.
He knew that he was unworthy to be where he was and he was terrified that he would be struck dead!
After being purified by the power of God, though, we see a completely different Isaiah in verse 8.
This man who could not speak is now saying that he will go out and share the Lord’s message.
What happened here?
Isaiah experienced something that you have experienced if you are a child of God this morning.
If you have been forgiven of your sins by the atoning work of Jesus Christ then you know that you are not saved to sit on your blessed assurance, you are saved to serve the King.
That starts from day one of your new birth!
That is not something that you have to wait years and years to do, it is something that we should be doing right away!
Just as Isaiah heard the Lord call for a messenger to deliver His message to the people, we have a responsibility to go out and share the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
One of the cool parts of verse 8 is that we see the term “Us” whenever the Lord is speaking.
This is most certainly a triune phrase as The Lord says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Who can say this besides Yahweh, God?
As we began our trinity discussion on Wednesday night, we talked about the fact that God is one in being but three in person.
In this sense, the Lord is saying “I” will send someone but they will go for “us.”
What a statement about our God and what a story about how He wills people to go out and enter His ministry.
One final portion about this opening verse.
There are some people out there who say, “Why should Christians evangelize if God has already predetermined everything?”
If God has His elect chosen before the foundations of the world then why does it matter if we go out and share the Gospel?
We know from Scripture that we are chosen in Him before the foundations of the world, as Paul tells us in .
But, we also see from the life of Paul that missions are certainly important, are they not?
This was a man who traveled around the Roman Empire declaring the truth of the Gospel and pleading for people to be reconciled to Christ.
Paul believed that God knows full and well, but he also believed that he did not know who would accept the message and who would not.
Because of that, he had a responsibility to share with everyone!
Charles Spurgeon was asked once why he even preached since he believed in election, his response was, “Because the elect don’t have yellow stripes down their back” meaning that Spurgeon had to preach because he’s not God and must preach the Gospel without discrimination.
That is why missions matter, church.
We know that God can work without us, He doesn’t need us, but we also know that He certainly does use us.
Evangelism is one of the ways that He uses us.
Hardened hearts (9-10)
The scene we see is that Isaiah is obedient to the calling of God on his life to go out and tell the people God’s message.
You would think that the result would be largely positive and that thousands of people would come to know the Lord and repent.
That is not what is found in verses 9 and 10.
In fact, it is the exact opposite.
This is a message that will harden the hearts of the people.
God says that there will be no positive results in the hearts of the people who hear what Isaiah says.
Instead of bringing conviction, humility and confession of sins, Isaiah’s message will primarily harden people.
Why on earth will this happen?
Because these people have repeatedly chosen to refuse to follow God.
Therefore, God has chosen to punish them by hardening their hearts.
It is past the time of repentance and the time of judgment is at hand.
This is a tricky passage for us to figure out what to do with.
For those who say that God only offers grace and mercy, the idea of God hardening someones heart is almost contradicting and very difficult to accept.
Additionally, for those who affirm that humans have complete free choice and that God is not completely sovereign, the idea of God hardening someone’s heart might seem appalling.
But the fact remains that sometimes God hardens the hearts of people (we see that with Pharoah in Exodus and we see Jesus mention this idea in the Gospels).
Stephen, in , declares that the people of Israel are a stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears.
We know that Satan certainly blinds human eyes from the work of God ( shares this truth) and we know that sometimes people harden their own hearts and blind their own eyes as shows.
But, from we see that there are also times that God hardens the hearts of people.
These commands are meant to prevent the people from seeing, hearing, understanding, turning and being healed.
Again, this is a tough message for us to hear, but it’s Bible and as uncomfortable as it might make us, we must preach and teach what Scripture says.
says that God’s message will make it so that the people will not repent.
Jesus had a similar response whenever people asked why He used parables.
What did He say? “I use parables so that the people will not understand, turn and be healed.” .
It is a weeding out process.
To some, Jesus’ parables would be confusing and would drive them away.
To some, the cross of Christ is foolishness and a stumbling block and they think Christianity is a silly.
To some, the message of the Gospel is so otherworldly that they can’t make sense of it and they call it a fairy tale.
But, to others the parables of Christ made sense and brought about conviction.
To others, the cross of Christ makes sense as it frees them from bondage to sin and death.
To others the Gospel message is life.
quotes and explains that the reason the Jews saw Jesus’ miracles and teachings and did not repent was because they had a hardened heart.
Just as Satan strives to blind eyes and humans blind their own eyes, God also, according to Scripture, blinds eyes as well.
If we believe that salvation is ultimately from the Lord, it follows that it is also He who removes the blindfold.
Hope in the midst of destruction (11-13)
For many of us, this idea doesn’t exactly sit very well with us.
We don’t like to think of God’s message being proclaimed and ultimately hardening the hearts of the people rather than bring about conviction and repentance.
The fact of the matter is that evangelism is not based upon results, always.
Some of the most faithful missionaries never had a single convert for years and years.
William Carey waited 7 years before he baptized his first convert in India.
Adoniram Judson waited 6 long years before he baptized his first convert in Burma.
Many people in modern Christianity would look at the ministries of these men and say that they were failures or that they didn’t do something right because they did not experience immediate results.
Lots of people and pastors in America judge success by the thousands of people who attend their churches or the millions of dollars that are in their operating budget.
The message from the Lord in would represent “failure” to many modern leaders because we see that the Lord does not promise large following, wealth or immediate conversions.
In fact, the promise is the opposite!
Isaiah is told that he will be the messenger of a very difficult and tough message of the hardening of hearts and he cries out, “How long Lord?”
He is asking how long he will preach to hardened hearts.
God replies by showing that this will take place until His judgments have been carried out.
We see that it will be after cities are devastated, the people are in exile and the houses are without people.
This might sound harsh, but this is the righteous judgment of a holy God against a sinful people.
Again, comes into play here.
God is not being unfair and he is not punishing the people just because He can, He is punishing them because He must remain faithful to His word.
declares that
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