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Archive for March 7th, 2010

Text

Isaiah 6:1-10(NIV)

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 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. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “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.”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

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!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
” ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. [a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” (NIV)

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 6:10 Hebrew; Septuagint ‘You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; / you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ / 10 This people’s heart has become calloused; / they hardly hear with their ears, / and they have closed their eyes

Introduction

Isaiah’s vision was primarily regarding the nation of Israel and also concerning himself.  His role in it was very clear: he was sent to be among the children of Israel.  A prophet by definition is one who is sent.

Each of us is placed and we have a mission too. My present intention is not to explain the vision in terms of history of Israel  but in its broadest sense. What is the role of a Christian among those who do not share the same calling as he has?

Now who witnesses the vision? Isaiah.

What has set up the vision?  Here we need to get the nature and role of soul right.

soul

Soul of man is aware of the deeper things of God. Soul that is in the cross-hair of man’s destiny and in his present circumstances is where the Word of God makes contact. It is also where man begins in his search for truth. It is not anything of a body that may be anatomically located. Think of it something of an aura that each of us bear about as magnetic lines about the earth. ( True North and magnetic North are two different aspects of the same Soul and being are somewhat similar.)

When we speak of art and literature  and we impact others soul is at work.  A literary characte like Don Quixote holds mirror to our nature and it is soul that convinces the truth of human condition. Secular literature that lifts us to a higher plane and sets truth of human condition from particular to general owe to the soul for force and effect.

Profane and sacred art and literature use the same symbols and literary artifices  and where these make us examine Truth however little, belongs to the realm of soul.

The vision of Isaiah therefore we may consider as a projection of his soul.

Nature of man -Israel and gentile

Isaiah saw this vision not because he was any better than other children of Israel.  Of them we read thus:Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ vs.9

The Children of Israel show certain traits as we read the Scriptures. They give reverence to their prophets but their hearts are far from them. They stone their prophets and inter them in beautiful tombs.   They are like the elder son in the parable of Jesus: quick to promise and loath to fulfil it.  Jesus lived some six centuries later than Isaiah but found them as stiff necked and stubborn as Moses had earlier. They were like wine with the lees well settled at the bottom. The exile to Babylon as well as the destruction of their temple in 70 AD were a kind of shaking up the unruly nation from their complacency. Even now we see something of that in their handling of Palestine problem. Having tasted the heartache of being hounded out everywhere they now close their hearts to their brothers whose tragedy is pendant on them. In their success of  finding home their shame begins.  Do they not respect memory of their own suffering ? No.  They could lifted  their experience to something noble and divine had they shown mercy  and generosity of spirit.  Their implacable hostility even to yield an inch is merely a sad comment on their nature.

Even so they are humans and they are far from perfect.

We are also, even as they,  imperfect beings. While we attribute God with Absolute values we as finite beings can only handle truth as humans. We represent  certain kind of truth and speak truth when it suits us but we shall never be Truth as God is God of Truth. We also show certain kind of love and love dearly when it suits us. But we can never measure up to Love in its Highest. Religion is for the imperfect beings. They first of all need to know truth about themselves.  In the previous post Overheard I had touched on the role of religion. We ought to know the truth of ourselves in our mind and hearts. Only when we know that we can go onto the perfection that the Scriptures talk about.

The children of Israel rejected Jesus saying they had Moses and Abraham. They could only see the Son of man as from the devil. We are in no way better.  We hold on to our antecedents, name, family that we cannot bear the cross. We are full of ourselves that we cannot accept the truth we have to become like children and learn lessons in humility. In short we starve in land of plenty. When grace is poured from high we cannot recieve it.

We deceive ourselves.

We taint the earth.

In the vision Isaiah hears: ‘The whole earth is full of His glory’.. If seraphs should attest that it must be so. For they see the face of the Lord Creator day and night. Whereas what do we see? We see so much misery and violence; we see wicked prosper and innocent people for lack of understanding get caught in the wiles of the rogues. We invent new ways only for the ungodly to use more ways to enrich themselves. Phishing, a new word for the times we live in! The wicked hear words like’ wages if sin is death or God is the refuge of widows and the poor’.

Do they care? Of course not. We also hear God’s voice and it may be a whisper sweetly dropped in our REM state. Do we hold on to it. Thorns of our daily lives choke it. Cares of the world sometimes come from Satan. These are like thorns and tares crowding out the qualities that speak of us.  Because of such concerns that what shall we eat and what shall we put on we become more focused on body than our soul. We miss out the more vital truth about ourselves in our hurry to make a living.

Why, we have  seen how the wicked prosper and cynically assume  the riches of the world are to the evil and wicked. We may not do evil but our shortcomings are only matter of degrees. Therefore we shall make no impression by trying to improve them. Our unbelieving heart will not make disbelief of another go away. It is like pot calling the kettle black. Hypocrisy of a Christian is to preach good news when his own life does not celebrate good news. (I mean in the real sense that it does not reach deeper and change some of his persisting habits that still cling to him.)

We speak of child molesters and murderers as evil and we still keep hatreds and deprive children their chances. When we beggar the resources of the earth and leave a poor environment are we not doing violence to them? What did Jesus speak of those who put a stumbling block in the way of children. We cannot escape by pointing by comparing with others.

Glory of God still visible”-He who has eyes let him see 

How many of us can claim the vision of seraphs since vision or glory of God is  not whatis our priority or what eats us in our daily lives.

Merely because we do not see as Prophet Isaiah it would not mean such visions do not exist.

God’s glory will always fill the earth. One may dismiss this as nonsense. His glory fills every crevice and interstices of man and nature. How can God deny His own because man cares not forsuch things?”

A Christian is a sign

A man in his imperfection is still a key and a sign. This is what the vision driving at. Isaiah was as imperfect as you and me. But God asks ‘who shall be a witness for me?’ I do not believe God wanted a sinner to go to the nation and preach,’Sin no more!’ I do not subscribe to the idea that  we can convert truly without converting ourselves first in a way acceptable to God.

Let me quote:” Woe to me!” I cried. “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.”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

These verses have always quickened me then as now. We have all our favorite verses. These in particular have always made me as though I were instantly transported to His presence.

A live coal is something burnt beyond its former state. The green freshness of life is absent and yet it still has power: the twig is torn of its tree and being burnt has no sap. It is still hot and live. It must indicate regenerative power and is not former life continuing after its fashion. Every Christian living on grace must hold something similar. He knows he is nothing but still has power to lead his life as a witness. This is the crux of the vision of Isaiah.

We are bundles of imperfections but when covered with His grace we are Christians and live on an enhanced level like hot coals. Grace is all that we can show before others and not our own righteousness.

benny

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