The text for this lesson is Isaiah 6:1–13.
- God’s Word calls us to repentance. Christ—the Word made flesh—restores us to life..
- Law: Our stubborn unrepentance leads to God’s continued and deepening discipline.
- Gospel: God disciplines us not for our ultimate destruction but so we will rise again in new life in Christ, the “holy seed” of the stump.
- Isaiah prophesies during the reigns of several kings, from Uzziah to Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1), spanning at least from 740 BC and perhaps into the early 600s BC. At this early point in Isaiah’s ministry, Israel and Judah were at their wealthiest and most powerful since the time of Solomon. The Lord’s command to prophesy destruction reminds us that security is not found in wealth or power but in faith toward God.
- Isaiah’s personal call to prophesy is set in contrast with the message of destruction he will proclaim to the people. At first, this message may seem to be harsh, and it may appear that God leaves no hope for the hearer. But the Lord’s treatment of Isaiah himself, as well as the final part of the message Isaiahis to preach, reveals not a punishing and vindictive God but a merciful and forgiving Lord.
- The Lord calls Isaiah to announce to the people that they will not understand or perceive the message so they will not return and be healed (6:9–10). But the message is not that the hearer is never to return and be healed. Rather, there is a temporary time of dullness and misunderstanding in order that the fullness of God’s discipline may be carried out on the people of Israel. God’s discipline results in the destruction of Israel’s residence in the Promised Land, thus leading to exile. However, this is the clear consequence to which Israel bound themselves when they renewed the covenant with the Lord prior to entering Canaan (Deuteronomy 27–30). The Lord laid out the curses that would befall the people if they failed to live according to the covenant, including the curse of exile.
- However, even these curses were not the last word. In Deuteronomy 30, the Lord promised that after the exile, He would restore the people, renew their hearts, and again take delight in them. Isaiah’s prophecy also ends with a foreshadowing of renewal: “The holy seed is its stump” (Isaiah 6:13). This holy seed is Christ, the Son of God, who will come forth from Mary as a living shoot comes forth from a stump that appears dead. This holy shoot will become the new, living tree of God into which all of God’s people will be grafted.
- God’s final word of mercy is also demonstrated in the callof Isaiah. With his vision of heaven and the announcement by the angel of God’s holiness, Isaiah becomes fully aware of his sinfulness before the Holy Lord, just as the stripping away of Israel’s livelihood through exile will reveal its sinfulness before the Lord. But in repentance, the Lord restores. He takes away the sin of Isaiah, just as He will take away the sin of the people through Christ. The restorative word of the Lord gave peace and confidence to Isaiah (6:8) after he was shaken by the word of the angel (6:3). The Lord may speak words of discipline and purification to us, but His final word is forgiveness, restoration, and life in His Son.