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Dreams, Visions and Fire

Jun 07, 2009

Passage:Isaiah 6

Preacher: Loren Miller

Category: Sunday Evening

Keywords: pentecost, isaiah, vision, seeking, repentance, answering


We look at the Vision Isaiah received and how he came about the vision, contrasting it with the Pentecost experience of acts chapter 2. Seek God, Repent and then answer His call.


Good Evening, welcome to the 5:30 service. My name is Loren. IF this is your first time here with us tonight, thank you for worshiping with us. I would like to get the opportunity to meet you after the service so stick around a few minutes. Tonight is a special night, a pivotal night. An honest night: So before I utter anything else let’s ask God to meet us here: God meet us here, Holy Spirit fill this place our hearts and our lives, grant us your wisdom and knowledge of your saving grace. Amen.

Discontent – defined as dissatisfied, or longing for more for something better than the present situation. Bill Hybels, the pastor of a huge church in the Chicago area puts it a little differently: Holy Discontent. He has been using this phrase for as long as I can remember and uses it to help define purpose in life, something like this. Your purpose in life is where your passion and the brokenness of this world intersect, there you will find your purpose, for example if you love children and you are passionate about parenting and molding children, then I would point you to the fact that hundreds of orphaned, starving children are out there, where your passion and the brokenness of the world intersect. As our friend Greg Arthur puts it: Holy discontent is when our uneasy spirit about the brokenness of this world comes in line with the heart of God in a way that spurs us on to righteous world changing living.

And that is where I find myself tonight and If I am honest with myself I’ve been here a while. And from the conversations I’ve been having with you during the past few weeks you are at this place as well. That’s a good thing; we are on the same page. But it is also a terrifying thing, what happens next. I love the fact that we are at this place during Pentecost, when God rains down the Holy Spirit and we remember that it not by our might, but His. And tonight we will look into the Old Testament book of Isaiah. So before we start singing His praises, let’s take a second for some silence, stop the to-do lists, stop worrying about tomorrow, or the people around you, take a moment of silence and focus on God, lets quiet this crazy world and listen for His voice.

Before we dive into this text lets gather some context, Isaiah, you have heard of this guys before, you probably know someone named after him. Isaiah was perhaps one of the greatest prophets of all time, he was bold, uncompromising, consistently living what he was preaching and with a god-given vision he was a prophet to the Israelites for close to 60 years, despite their unfaithfulness, remember this point it will help us in a second. And During this time life was good for Israel, it was a prosperous time but danger lurked just outside, you see Israel was smack-dab in the middle of two huge powerhouses, Egypt and the Assyrians. Every king wanted to rub elbows with the other guys make a treaty, But Isaiah pushed back and time and time again spoke out against alliances and passionately preached to really solely on the one true God for deliverance.

And in the first few chapters of Isaiah we find the people of Israel doing what they did best, running away from God. And we read the sorrow of God in chapter 1 I have nourished you and brought you up but you have rebelled against me. Calling out the pastors of the day who mix iniquity and the sacred, worshiping not out of spirit and truth but obligation and formality. But there is still hope for the people of god if they would only repent, for the judgment of God is coming.

And we pick up the story in chapter 6, a dream a vision he sees the Lord sitting on a throne in the temple high and lifted up exalted with seraphs surrounding Him, and these weren’t nice little angles we see in Italian paintings no seraph means burning one, flaming creatures these angles were on fire, literally. And they are flying around crying Holy, Holy, holy, not some whisper, but a loud sound, now this is right out of Hollywood is it not? The house was shaking and was filled with smoke; this might be the invention of the fog machine? Add to that the context of the holy of holies, the innermost part of the temple surrounded by a veil and only the high priests could enter on one day each year to repent of the sins of the nation. And if you went in there just like the Ark of the Covenant if you touched it and were unclean, you weren’t a high priest, you were toast. It seems overly dramatic to us but you can get the Idea when Isaiah says I am done for, I am a sinner from a place of many sinners and now I am in the presence of God. It’s like oil and water they can’t occupy the same space at the same time, and I know who the stronger one is here, well at least I got to see God. But one of those fiery angels goes over to the cupboard and gets the BBQ tongs, you know those really long ones so you can get the stuff at the back of the grill with out burning yourself and he gets a coal from the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips and says, your sin is gone. Great, now he doesn’t have to die he is clean, that’s great, but there is more. He hears the voice of the Lord, whom shall I send? Now this not passive aggressive, like you are sitting on the couch after dinner and your wife says who is going to clean up, and I am thinking well unless the dog grows opposable thumbs, and from the nature of the question it doesn’t sound like you want to do it, so unless there are other people around that I am unaware of who are willing to clean up, that leaves me?

AS I run that through my wife translator it hits me like a ton of bricks of yeah this is where you say “you sit right there honey I’ll take care of the dishes” And for the record that was an entirely fictional account. But unlike with the coals, he didn’t ask to be cleansed they just did it, God asks the question: Who? Who shall we send? God asks. So that implies choice doesn’t it, it is hard to imagine anyone in this setting not saying yes, but put that in the back of your mind, there is a choice.

And after Isaiah is done jumping up and down like an anxious kid with an answer, hey hey, me, me me over here, yeah, here I am, send me! We find out what he is sent to do.

Now this is the hard part because if you were just glancing out over chapter 6 and you come across v10 you would be like what god wants him to shut their eyes lest they see and to harden their heart, you would be scratching your head…no comprende senor. That doesn’t seem like a calling from god, but and you might not believe this, we have to imply sarcasm, yes, if we really start to read this book we will find many, many passages of pure sarcasm that would make Seinfeld jealous: let me paraphrase it for us:

Isaiah accepts the Lords requests and they are sitting around talking about these people the Israelites, remember that one time Isaiah yeah, I brought down pillars of fire and they couldn’t even follow that, Isaiah give him a nervous laugh, yeah bunch of sheep, or remember when I made dinner fall out of the sky, I gave them simple instructions just take as much as you need and no more, sure enough they screw that up too,

its kinda like when your dog chews up your favorite sandals, you are really mad but that cute face you just gotta love it ya know…I mean they keep on hearing and seeing these sings and wonders but they just don’t get it, I mean you might as well shut their ears and eyes and harden their hearts or they might actually repent and be healed, we wouldn’t want that now…would we Isaiah…

I didn’t say it was very funny sarcasm, but its sarcasm none the less and so Isaiah says well this sounds like a sweet mission how long is it going to take. Well basically a long time, until everything is pretty much wiped of the face of the map…I can see Isaiah, ohh…ok…yeah, and God pipes in even if only a little bit remains I’ll come back and destroy it, just like they should have destroyed all those idols and other Gods. But there is still a seed.

Yes a glimmer of hope…I can smell a sequel:

How does this apply to us you might be asking, that’s a great question:

Let’s look at a few parts of this story.
1. the vision, we don’t have much to go on here, it is not like that we read about him going into the desert or down to the garden to pray, but we get a slight hint in the first line, the King has died, mourning is a prominent custom in many cultures and the Jews had a specific way of mourning the dead it, after the burial they sat in Shiva, or mourning for 7 days a time when they remove themselves from everyday life and its luxuries, sitting low to the ground in humility, lighting a candle, having Shiva services in the home. And for the next 11 months and a day during morning and evening prayers they will say the kiddish a prayer praising God.

So we can infer that the nation was in mourning after King Uzziah died, the nation was seeking God.
2. Repentance – Isaiah knows he can’t be in the presence of God in his current sate, as a sinner he needs cleansing and understanding
3. Answer – God asked him a question, he couldn’t ignore God.

Just like last week when we read about the disciples in the upper room gathered together, asking them selves, asking god…what next what are we going to do, how are we going to do it…Isaiah seeking God has a vision, and much like the fire resting on the disciples heads this burning coal comes and purifies him, transforms from just a common sinner to a prophet set apart and willing to do God’s work. And unlike the people of Israel who just wouldn’t listen the crowd gathered around the upper room where this Pentecost was happening asked Peter…what do we do now? Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will also be filled with the Holy Spirit. And they answered 3,000 of them in fact and they continued to answer the call of God in their life and if only for a short period of time we see what a church can look like.

Seek God, repent and then answer the call.

This Holy discontent, the feeling that there is something more, the inability to go another day without the vision of God for my life, for my family, for my church. right here there is something more, I don’t know the answers but I know that God does, so tonight we embark on a visioning experience, we will come together tonight and seek God, cry out for repentance, and listen for Gods call so we can answer it. You will find a stack of papers at the end of your pew take one and pass it down, a list of questions to guide us in our seeking, write down something if you want, draw something, spend these next minutes in silence, walk around. You are free, but seek God! After a few minutes alone we will come together to pray corporately, the mic will be open if you would like to pray.