“In the year that King Uzziah died . . .” (Isaiah 6:1a).
The death of a king brought great upheaval in ancient Israel. There would be battles for overall power. There would be people scrambling to be near the king – to be his advisors, and/or in his court. In the midst of all this, foreign powers might see it as a time to encroach on sovereign territory, or just raid and pillage.
In the USA we are blessed with a democratic republic, with a Constitution unlike any the world has ever seen. We see a transfer of power happen in peace and with little interruption in the national and international interactions. The presidential election of 2008 was no different. President George Bush, recognizing the fact that the war on terror, the economy and international relations are in heightened risk, made sure there was a smooth transition between the old and new administrations.
Regardless of where you stand on the cultural and political side of the ongoing debates, Barack Obama, as of January 20, 2009, became our president, at least until 2012. A majority of the voters elected him, and that is the way our Constitution calls for a change in executive leadership. As a nation we have seen significant shifts in policy and cultural initiatives in recent history. The Ford to Carter change; the Carter to Reagan change; the Bush(1) to Clinton change; and now, the Bush(2) to Obama change.
There is a significant divide in this nation, one that is growing at a rapid pace. The divide is along a culture defined by a conservative, Judeo-Christian, free market mindset, versus a liberal, secular, socialistic mindset, and all points in-between. President Obama represents the most sharply defined liberal/secular president the US has ever elected. We must pray for him and about him and his administration. We know God allowed him to come to power.
How does this discussion have anything to do with Isaiah and the change of rule in an ancient Near Eastern culture? First, we must never lose sight that our God is immutable (unchanging). He cannot be Almighty, Eternal God unless that is true. While He may choose to deal with interim judgments in His own ways, He has not changed; nor has He changed what He has said from the beginning. In two ways I suggest we can draw wisdom and strength from Isaiah’s prophetic writings to his people
Isaiah was given a vision in the Temple of God. So, first of all take note that he went to the Temple to pray. The vision he experienced was one of judgment and grace. He was given a mission – to prophesy the destruction of Israel if the people did not return to their absolute, singular, heart-surrendered worship of Almighty God; and to preach of personal peace available to those who place their complete trust in God, as well as foretelling the advent of the Messiah and His ministry of grace and restoration. That was quite a mind-boggling call on this man’s life. But Isaiah did just that. His writings are the most comprehensive of all the Old Testament prophets, covering God’s creation of the world to the advent of the Messiah.
However, we live in a different time than Isaiah: the Mosaic Covenant has ended and we are under God’s New Covenant, defined by the sacrificial shedding of blood and physical resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, God’s anointed savior of mankind. We live in a period defined by the unmitigated Grace of God.
The Christian should bear in mind that Judah, the southern kingdom of the divided nation of Israel and Isaiah’s home, survived well over 100 years beyond when Isaiah prophesied destruction. God’s timetable is just that – His timetable. Do not allow yourself to get into an “end of days” mode that causes indifference and a “bunker” mentality. We know the answer to the question of the purpose of life; we can point anyone to how to receive eternal life and peace with God; and we know that God is Sovereign. That is the message we are to live out day by day for mankind to see. Just as Jesus was bold in His message against the enemies of God, yet chose a life of absolute submission to the Will of His Father, even to death, we are to live a life of submission to Him that brings light to dispel the darkness of the lost world. We are to live out that message until the very moment of our passing into eternity.
Secondly, we can live in perfect peace in these days. “You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) We have no reason to live in anxiety or fear, to worry about our physical needs or the future of this nation or the world. While it is only right to be concerned and to be bold, there is no reason to fear for our future or for our loved ones – we must show them the pathway to salvation through Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6); and, then, we can teach them how to live in God’s abundance. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).
In the midst of grief at the loss of Isaiah’s beloved king whom he served, and his loss of status in the king’s court, came the voice of his God. “Whom shall I send? And who will go out for us?” Isaiah’s immediate response – “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
What can you be doing in the coming weeks and months. Shall you throw up your hands in despair over the endless discussions regarding the economy, upcoming elections, global crises, etc., etc., and just go back to business as usual? Shall you sit around and grouse about these things that you have little or no power to change?
I want to suggest you consider going before the Throne of Grace and beseeching God: “Here am I, Lord. Use me!”