Monday, February 16, 2009

Isaiah Answers God's Call -Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending February 22, 2009

Purpose: To respond to God's awesome presence with new or renewed commitment

Scripture Text: Isaiah 6:1-8 (NRSV)

Isaiah 6:1-8 (1)In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. (2)Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. (3)And one called to another and said:‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’

(4)The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. (5)And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’(6) Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. (7)The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’ (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!’

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

In this passage, Isaiah gives us the historical setting, the year that King Uzziah died. King Uzziah took the throne at the age of 16, his father, Amaziah, had been murdered and Uzziah (also called Azuriah) was chosen by the people to be king. Uzziah reigned for 52 years (810-758 BC) in the southern kingdom of Judah. He was considered a good king, his biggest mistake was trying to burn incense on the altar. Uzziah's success had caused him to become arrogant, he thought he was equal to a high priest and could burn incense on the altar. God struck him with leprosy. (2 Chronicles 26) and of course he was isolated from that day, till his death. Uzziah's main counsel during his reign was Zechariah.

The vision of Isaiah was spectacular and he is very descriptive in his telling of the vision. Snakes with wings, that could talk, I for one would have been out of there so fast. I don't even like snakes that have to crawl on the ground, let alone ones that could fly. I think in visions, even our own visions or images of God that we create in our mind, probably reflect our understanding of God at the time. I think Isaiah saw God as he imagined him, a God of might and power, one whose presence filled the temple, high and lifted up and in control, one whose voice shook the very foundation of the building.

More importantly, Isaiah saw himself, a man of unclean lips, a man unfit for service. He also realized he was not the only one unworthy. He lived among many people in the same situation. As often happens, when we compare ourselves to a righteous and holy God, we are found wanting.

I think the message of the seraphs is interesting; their words would become one of our favorite hymns, Holy, Holy, Holy. I find the voice of Lord, “who will go for us” fascinating. Who is “us”? The doctrine of the Trinity would come about thousand years later, yet God speaks in the plural. Certainly this is a hint of a Triune God.

The entire vision is a blueprint for an order of service. We have the gathering, praise, adoration and worship, confession and pardon, a call for commitment, and a response to the call. If our reading stops at verse 8 we think Isaiah has received this great call to go and proclaim the holiness and might and strength of the Lord. But his call is to tell those to “keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.”

Do you think Isaiah would have responded so positively if he had known what he was being called to do? What is is your vision of God? What is your vision of yourself? Are you willing to heed the call, not knowing what you will be ask to do? Knowing all of the above we are called to answer as Isaiah did. “Here am I send me.”

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