28 May 2016

Isaiah 6:1-8

“Then 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 me!’” (v. 8)

Psalm: Psalm 147


This passage from Isaiah is reminiscent of Thursday's passage (link) from Revelation - both are full of amazing visions and dramatic imagery. But Isaiah is about history as well as poetry. Grim political realities are never far away. Isaiah gives us God - unutterably mysterious, yet present and active.

In this passage Isaiah has a dramatic encounter with God that transformed him into one of the great prophets of God's people. At first he feels both grief and shame at his own uncleanness and with the unclean community of which he is part (verse 5). It leads to a moment of personal and corporate confession: "Woe is me!"

Then, with vivid imagery, his lips are made clean with coals from the altar. Finally Isaiah hears God's voice speaking to him and speaking a word of action: "Who will go for us?" After the way his heart, mind and lips have been touched he cannot help but respond with the famous words of self-offering: "Here am I; send me."

The message of this passage is that transforming encounters with God are always available to us, however unworthy we might think ourselves to be.

To Ponder

  • Isaiah's excuse for not being God's spokesman was that his lips were 'unclean' and that he lived among unclean people, what is your excuse?
  • We are reasonably familiar with individuals having transformative encounters with God; after all we have seen it this week with the experience of John Wesley in 1738, but have you ever heard of a whole group of people having a transformative experience. In what ways are the dynamics different in such a case?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jennifer Potter

The Revd Jennifer Potter is a Methodist minister at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London. Prior to being appointed to serve there she worked in the Connexional Team from 1996-2002 as the secretary for international affairs.