Isaiah’s description of his vision and calling by God continues:
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 NKJV
Thus began the fifty-year ministry of Isaiah. After being singled out by God with the rarest of gifts, a glimpse of heaven, Isaiah probably thought that he was going to be sent to change the world.
In a way, he was. He spoke great and wonderful prophecies about future of Israel and its neighbors, and the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In His writings, Isaiah alludes to Jesus’ virgin birth, foretells some of His miraculous acts, details his suffering and death, refers to His resurrection, and describes what it will be like on earth when Jesus returns as King.
That is a high and wonderful calling. But in his lifetime, Isaiah’s prophecies would not be well received by the people. They did not want to hear it and would reject him. The more Isaiah spoke God’s words, the more people closed their hearts, minds, and ears to what he had to say.
God warned Isaiah about this right up front.
9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 “Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9-10 NKJV
Upon first reading this, it sounds like God wants people to close their ears and turn away from Him, so as not to receive His bountiful blessing.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Virtually the whole Bible is about God reaching out to people. Unfortunately, they usually end up rejecting His overtures so that they can be fully in charge of their own lives and go their own way.
This is not what the Lord wants for us. Peter confirmed this in his letter to the church:
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
It grieves God when people reject Him with a hardened heart. Yet, He insists on continually presenting them with the information anyway. The more He presents the message of grace and love, the more those who choose to reject Him become harder in their own hearts. They would rather “play” God themselves than accept Him as the ultimate power in their lives.
At one time or another, most of us believed that we were in control of the situations and people that surround us. When things began to slip, we tried all the harder to regain control. But there comes a time when we finally realize what a false illusion that is, and that we have almost no true control over others. Other people have their own will, and it will eventually come to the surface. When it does, there is often a clash between what we are trying to get them to do and what they choose to do. It is similar to the situation between us and God.
God loves us and has a plan for our lives if we are willing to accept it. We can fight God’s will all we want to; He has given us that right. But at the end of the day, our peace, serenity, and the greater blessings of life will evade us until we finally accept it and surrender to it. The fundamental truth is that there is indeed a God, and no matter how hard we may try, it is not us.
Jesus quoted from this same section of Isaiah while explaining the Parable of the Sower to his disciples in Matthew 13. He was dealing with the same issue of rejection by those He had come to save.
Where have I hardened my heart against what God is trying to tell me?
What people around me am I trying to control? Where am I trying to “play God”?
Lord, show me where I have shut my eyes and ears to what You are saying. Help me to surrender to You wherever I am trying to control others and to “play God” in their lives. Grant me the peace and serenity that comes from trusting You. Guide and protect those that we love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.