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A Call To Serve

Notes & Transcripts

A Call To Serve

April 22, 2001               Isaiah 6


A             Yahweh's heavenly splendor and glory (6:1-4)

                - begins: the image of Yahweh sits (ysb) enthroned in his heavenly abode

                - theme: fullness – Yahweh's heavenly abode is filled (with his majesty); the earth ('eres) is full of his glory

                B             Isaiah's distressed reaction (6:5a)

                                - begins: and I said (wa'omar)

                                C             Isaiah's lips are unclean; but they are purified (6:5b-7)

                                                - his sins are forgiven

                                                - his eyes have seen (r'h)

                                                - he lives among a sinful people ('am)

                                                D             CLIMAX: Isaiah's call and acceptance (6:8)

                                C'            The people's eyes, hearts, ears are sinful (6:9-10)

                                                - they will not be forgiven

                                                - their eyes will not see (r'h)

                                                - the people ('am) are sinful

                B'            Isaiah's distressed reaction (6:11a)

                                - begins: and I said (wa'omar)

A'            Judah's future devastation and humiliation (6:11b-13)

                - begins: the image of no one sitting/dwelling (ysb) in the land

                - theme: emptiness – the land/earth ('eres) will be empty and desolate

This chiastic structure contrasts the fullness of God in his person and heavenly setting with the emptiness of man in his person and earthly setting when man is not filled with God but rather with himself. Isaiah's call concerning this stands at the center of the passage. What Isaiah has seen and heard of God because of his repentant heart cannot be seen and heard by the people because they do not have repentant hearts. The fact of God's holiness and his requirements leading to judgment causes distress for Isaiah. But the people must see what Isaiah saw of God that would lead them to repentance and on to obedience and usability. This is why Isaiah's call stands in chapter six rather than at the beginning. It serves as a transition that gives the prophet's experience as the model for the people to follow as the remedy for the condition of their hearts toward God.

Exegetical Outline from Original Text:

I.          Isaiah sees God (vv. 1-4)

II.        Isaiah repents before God (v. 5)

III.       Isaiah is cleansed by God (vv. 6-7)

IV.       God calls Isaiah (v. 8)

V.        God commands Isaiah (vv. 9-10)

VI.       God encourages Isaiah (vv. 11-13)

Expositional Outline:

How is it possible to serve God?

Three things without which we cannot serve God.

Three things by which we must serve God.

A Call To Serve

I.          One cannot serve God unless he can see him (vv. 1-4)

II.        One cannot serve God unless he is humbled before him (v. 5)

III.       One cannot serve God unless he is enabled by him (vv. 6-7)

IV.       One must serve God with a whole heart (v. 8)

V.        One must serve God with the whole task (vv. 9-10)

VI.       One must serve God with whole trust (vv. 11-13)


Scripture Reading: Galatians 6:1-10



Doing what God wants

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord ex­plained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down; his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the marl returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Since the man was showing discourage­ment, the Adversary (Satan) decided to en­ter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it has­n’t moved.” This gave the man the impres­sion that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. “Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.” And that is what he planned to do, until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, think­ing that you have failed.

“But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are cal­lused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposi­tion you have grown much, and your abili­ties now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. Now I, My friend, will now move the rock.”

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to de­cipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. Yes, we must exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves those mountains according to his sovereign will and plan. When everything seems to go wrong, just keep going. When the job gets you down, just keep going. When people don’t react the way you think they should, just keep going. When the money "looks" gone and the bills are due, just keep going. When people just don’t understand you, just keep going. As long as you are following and serving God, you are going in the right direction.

          How can the Israel of chapters 1-5 become the Israel of 43:8-13 & 49:5-4?

          Without the lived out truth of chapter 6, chapters 1-5 present an irreconcilable contradiction.

          Therefore, Isaiah's inaugural vision is placed six chapters into the book it inaugurates.

          The vision of chapter 6 is fundamental to the entire course of Isaiah's ministry and to the shape of his book.

          He saw God and saw him in such a way that it changed the shape of the rest of his life.

Big Question:

How is it possible to serve God?

Three things without which we cannot serve God.

Three things by which we must serve God.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative - Isaiah sees God (vv. 1-4)


          B.      Implication

One cannot serve God unless he can see him (vv. 1-4)

          C.      Illustration

The Hebrews normally believed that to see God was to die.

 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."

 (Genesis 32:30 NIVUS)

 and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.

 (Exodus 19:21 NIVUS)

 and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."

 (Exodus 20:19 NIVUS)

 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

 (Exodus 33:20 NIVUS)

 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die."

 (Deuteronomy 18:16 NIVUS)

 "We are doomed to die!" he said to his wife. "We have seen God!"

 (Judges 13:22 NIVUS)

But it was also true that various individuals were permitted to see him where God desired to provide an element of encouragement and confirmation.

 9  Then the angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her."

 10 ¶ The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."

 11  The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.

 12  He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."

 13  She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."

 (Genesis 16:9-13 NIVUS)

 12  He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

 13  There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

 14  Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

 15  I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

 (Genesis 28:12-15 NIVUS)

 9 ¶ Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up

 10  and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.

 11  But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

 (Exodus 24:9-11 NIVUS)

 5 ¶ Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.

 6  And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,

 7  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

 8  Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.

 9  "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance."

 10 ¶ Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.

 (Exodus 34:5-10 NIVUS)

 11 ¶ The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

 12  When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."

 13  "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."

 14  The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?"

 15  "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

 16  The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."

 17  Gideon replied, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.

 18  Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you." And the LORD said, "I will wait until you return."

 19  Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

 20  The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And Gideon did so.

 21  With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.

 22  When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"

 23  But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."

 24  So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

 (Judges 6:11-24 NIVUS)

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative - Isaiah repents before God (v. 5)

          B.      Implication

          One cannot serve God unless he is humbled before him (v. 5)

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative - Isaiah is cleansed by God (vv. 6-7)


B.      Implication

          One cannot serve God unless he is enabled by him (vv. 6-7)

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative - God calls Isaiah (v. 8)


          B.      Implication

          One must serve God with a whole heart (v. 8)

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five


          A.      Narrative- God commands Isaiah (vv. 9-10)

          B.      Implication

          One must serve God with the whole task (vv. 9-10)

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application


VI.    Cycle Six


          A.      Narrative - God encourages Isaiah (vv. 11-13)

          B.      Implication

          One must serve God with whole trust (vv. 11-13)

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application


Big Answer:

How is it possible to serve God?

It is possible to serve God when we can see him enough to be humbled by him and therefore enabled to serve him.

It is possible to serve God only with the whole self, going the whole distance, by complete trust.

Timeless Truth:

We can only serve God when we know him well enough to serve him.

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