Isaiah 6:1-8—In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne . . . So I said: Woe is me, for I am undone! . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. . . . 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.’
We love this passage, don’t we? Our beloved green thumb Husbandman now reveals through the prophet His backstory in the prophet! God allowed Isaiah to see and hear something so that he could then say and write something. This is none other than our Father’s use of His way called revelation. The use of revelation spans both testaments, transformed every great prophet, and encourages every branch in His vineyard. The Bible is the inspired record of God’s revelation. Both salvation and sanctification include the necessary element of revelation by God’s Word and by God’s Spirit. Isaiah’s message and ministry were birthed out of a revelation in which he saw the Lord, saw himself, and saw his need. His message was quoted over 65 times in the New Testament, far more than any other Old Testament prophet, and his name is mentioned over 20 times. The centerpiece of his prophecy is the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s “suffering servant” as He does the will of God and suffers and dies for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53). This truly illustrates and is consistent with the effect of authentic revelation on our lives. For when we see God for who He is and see ourselves for who we are then we must have Jesus for what He has done (II Timothy 3:15). It is interesting that Isaiah’s call to ministry is included in the narrative after the woes and lament previously pronounced. Perhaps God inspired this order so that Isaiah could get real and vulnerable with his audience and say to them, “Let me tell you about my own woes lest you think I am just being judgmental.” Did not the apostle Paul identify himself as the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15)? Did he also not have a revelation that he could not quite explain (II Corinthians 12:1-4; Acts 9)?
Any legitimate use of revelation in our lives as branch-leaders should be grounded in the objective truth of Scripture and expressed in awe of the glory of God.
Paul David Tripp says it this way: “Awe means your heart will be filled more with a sense of blessing than with a sense of want. You will be daily blown away by what you have been given rather than being constantly disturbed by what you think you need. Awe produces gratitude; gratitude instills joy, and the harvest of joy is contentment.” (Awe, Paul David Tripp, pg. 106). We actually minister out of the overflow of our awe of God’s revelation. No wonder Isaiah’s love song turned to a lament. His eyes had seen the LORD of Hosts; therefore, he knew what Israel’s sins would cause them to miss.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe reminds us, “Before we can minister to others, we must permit God to minister to us. Before we pronounce bad news and God’s judgment upon others, we must sincerely admit our own sin and inadequacies. Isaiah’s conviction led to confession, and confession led to cleansing.” (Wiersbe Study Bible, pg. 992)
Many heroes of the faith became unconscious of the outside world, and with the inner eye of faith, saw what God revealed to them (Abraham: Genesis 18:27; Jacob: Genesis 32:10; Moses: Exodus 33; Job: Job 42:1-6; David: 2 Samuel 7:18; Ezekiel: Ezekiel 8:2-6; Peter: Luke 5:8; John: Revelation 1:17). In many cases, they endured what they did because they saw Him as He was (Hebrews 11:27). Their invisible reality motivates their enduring loyalty.
As we minister in God’s vineyard as New Testament shepherds, are we committed to helping the branches under our care enjoy the realities that come through the Husbandman’s ministry of revelation?
1. Do we role model it through personal testimony? With our Bibles open, do we say often, “Let me show you what God showed me”? Sharing insights should be a way of life for the branch-leader.
2. Do we teach that Bible truth reaches far beyond intellectual head knowledge? Is reading the Bible more than Christian homework to them? Are they looking in the Scriptures to find and gaze at Jesus? When they look into the Word of God and see the Son of God, do they know they can be changed into the image of God by the Spirit of God for the glory of God (II Corinthians 3:18)?
3. Are we praying like Paul with our people for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened that they might see their riches in Him and who they are in Him (Ephesians 1:15-23)? This is a prayer for enlightenment. Again, the idea is revelation, that they might see! My life completely changed when I saw, really saw, and embraced by faith who I was and what I had in Christ. The truth was there all the time. I just didn’t see it. What a difference when God graciously revealed this in what could be called a common insight. These insights are life-changing and life-giving! It’s like when once you see something, you can never unsee it!
4. Do we lead our flock to talk about their fresh insights among themselves?
Why did I go on that rant? Because if we lose the miracle element of our faith, we will lose our children and disciples to our faith. Some are on the verge of defecting because they see nothing supernatural in our lives and churches. We need to show them how to look at the unseen and behold eternity (II Corinthians 4:17-18). Of course, I am in no way suggesting an experience-based faith but rather reality in Christ based on the written Word of God taught by the Holy Spirit. Objective truth can become subjective reality. Our Father-Husbandman wants to have the Spirit of God bring the Word of God off the page so we can live its reality every day.
Years ago, I wrote this about reality in Christ for those who sincerely sought for definition.
Reality in Christ
(Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21)
Reality in Christ comes to a believer when God the Father gives him the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God (17). At that time, the eyes of his heart are opened to see–really see–in the Scriptures his purpose, (hope of his calling)(18), his spiritual inheritance (18), and his power (resurrection power) (19-23).
Reality in Christ continues as the Father grants grace to believers in the inner man (16), and he becomes confident of Christ’s love. By faith, he lays hold of this love and welcomes Christ to take full occupancy of his heart without reservation (17). He then is enabled to enter a relaxed relationship with the Savior in which he gives his undivided attention to research the full dimensions of the lover of his soul (18). The living out of this love relationship through the process of earthly life allows the believer to be filled with the fullness of God (19). The invisible becomes eternal and the visible becomes incidental (II Corinthians 4:18). His salvation becomes Christ Himself and he endures as seeing him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). The fragrance and boldness of his life then becomes a flaming witness of the grace of God to others who need it so desperately (Acts 4:33). He becomes preoccupied with Christ.
Our true Vine-Jesus reveals the key to all of this in John when He repeatedly uses the word “abide” (John 15:1-10). Breaking down the word abide looks like: Affectual Biblical Intimacy Drives Everything. Intimacy with Christ begets reality in Christ. The better we know Him, the more we love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we talk of Him. So in a very real way, nurturing our revelation of Jesus directly affects our mission for Jesus. The more we look for Him, the more we see Him, and the more He reveals to us (Matthew 5:6) and calls us friends (John 15:14-15).
Fruitfulness in the vineyard flows from a well much deeper than volunteerism, human dedication, religious adherence, responding to a need, or a group dynamic. It flows from the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, and we need to know it, see it, and believe it (John 4:15; 7:37-39).
May we see and hear all that our Beloved Father has for us in Christ.
God used a revelation of Himself to launch Isaiah’s ministry and message.
Authentic biblical revelation secures our vision with awe in God.
Many heroes of the faith were enlightened this way.
Clear enlightenment helps us persevere.
Do we share fresh insights?
Do we teach that they are for every Christian to enjoy?
Do we pray for them (Psalm 119:18)?
Do you have insights that are mile-markers for your life?
Does the family of God at your church talk together about their insights?
Is your flock seeing the supernatural?
Do you really believe intimacy begets reality?
Do you really believe reality in Christ begets missions for Christ?
Are you really willing to see and hear?
A Touch of Tozer
In olden days men of faith were said to “walk in the fear of . . . God” and to “serve the Lord with fear.” However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of the saints. This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty.
Wherever God appeared to men in Bible times the results were the same—an overwhelming sense of terror and dismay, a wrenching sensation of sinfulness and guilt. When God spoke, Abram stretched himself upon the ground to listen. When Moses saw the Lord in the burning bush, he hid his face in fear to look upon God. Isaiah’s vision of God wrung from him the cry. “Woe is me!” and the confession, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.”
Daniel’s encounter with God was probably the most dreadful and wonderful of them all. The prophet lifted up his eyes and saw One whose “body also was like the beryl and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.” “I Daniel alone saw the vision.” He afterwards wrote, “For the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore, I was left alone, and saw this great vision and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.”
These experiences show that a vision of the divine transcendence soon ends all controversy between the man and his God. The fight goes out of the man and he is ready with the conquered Saul to ask meekly “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 77-78
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