Can you guys believe we are SIXTEEN chapters into The Story already! Time flies when you’re having fun! This chapter begins where most do – the people are running wild like chickens with their heads chopped off. The nation of God’s followers is shrinking and shrinking, with more nations claiming their ways are better, and their kings are bigger.
The small land of God’s people is run by Hezekiah. Hez is pretty nervous about how he’s possibly supposed to keep this land going when there are so many overpowering nations surrounding him. So what does he do? He prays. And God reassures him saying, “Hez, mate, I’ve got it sorted, alright?” (I’m paraphrasing slightly).
The King of Assyria sends a messenger out to Hez who mocks absolutely everything that he’s doing for the nation. Who is this God? How is he helping them? It’s pretty obvious that they are just getting their supplies from Egypt, so why does Hez keep claiming it’s from God? And to the people, get out of this crazy loon’s town now! There’s food, and riches, and happiness over in Assyria. Seriously, this dude is a nut!
But Hez prays, and God promises He has it sorted, so Hez holds his ground.
So the King sends another message to Hez. He lists off all the many countries he’s taken over, all the people he’s destroyed, all the power he’s gained, and says to the people, “Do you seriously think your God is bigger than that? Do you honestly, seriously, 100% think that your ‘God’ is bigger than us?”
Can you see the power play in this situation? If they were dead-set on killing this nation, or taking over, why wouldn’t they just do it? Because they not only wanted to rule every nation, they wanted every nation to know they could rule every nation. The fear of others is what they thrived on.
But Hez thrived on his faith, and God sure delivered as he promised. The King of Assyria literally ran in fear when he saw what the power of God was capable of, and he ended up getting a piece of his own medicine.
It is around this time that the well-known and well-loved Isaiah is thrown into the mix. In case you don’t know, Isaiah is this incredible prophet who God sent to speak over the lives of his people, and tell them what was to come in the future. This didn’t just serve as a warning, but as a blessing too, giving them hope that God would deliver them.
When God first appeared to Isaiah, it was in the form of angels. He was in the presence of God, and was rightfully terrified. He saw the angels in all their detail, and was so overcome, saying he was unclean and lived an unclean life, but God was so clean – this wasn’t okay! He wasn’t allowed to see God! An angel actually came over and touched his lips, which was a blessing onto his life as a prophet.
Then Isaiah heard God asking, “Whom shall I send? Who shall go for us?” Notice, God didn’t ask for Isaiah? He didn’t even mention his name. He just put out the call, and because Isaiah was so in tune with God, he had absolutely nothing else to say but: “Here am I, send me.”
Isaiah not only speaks of what will happen very soon, but God also speaks through him to prophesize something that will happen in quite a few years. Have a listen to the Message version of this section of Isiah 53, and have a think about who this could be referring to?
He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain first hand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our paints he carried – our disfigurements, all the wrong things with us.
…It was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
…he died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
…Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it – life, life, and more life.
…He looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Even before Jesus was born, God’s plan was revealed to the people. They didn’t get it properly at the time, but what a blessing and a beacon of hope for them living there – that God would deliver them, and God was looking out for them.
Isaiah’s words are still so true to us now, and are able to be so beneficial to our own faiths. To look at Jesus and know, He had a purpose from right before He was born. He is from God, and He is God. And I am made in the image of Him, therefore I must have a purpose also. Wow, what a blessing.
I encourage you to reflect on this chapter the next few days, and I wanted to finish off this blog post with a quote from one of my favourite books of all time: My Upmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. It is a quote about Isaiah and how he chose to go, just like we can:
If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God, we too shall hear something akin to what Isaiah heard – the still, small voice of God – and in perfect freedom we will say:
“Here am I, send me.”