For the week of February 10, 2007 / 22 Shevat 5767
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 18:1 - 20:23
Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1 - 7:6; 9:5
God Is Calling
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)
Many people claim to have heard the call of God. This may be a foreign concept to you, or maybe not. Bible believers differ over whether or not this is a valid experience in our day. As for the Bible itself, it contains many examples of people who have been commissioned by God for this or that purpose. The majority of these examples are those where God spoke directly to individuals, telling them to do certain things. This would include Abraham (Bereshit / Genesis 12:1-3), Moses (Shemot / Exodus 3 & 4), Gideon (Shoftim / Judges 6:11-23), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10) among others.
This week's Haftarah contains the account of the prophet Isaiah's commissioning by God, but the interaction is quite different from those previously mentioned. In Isaiah's case we don't read of God calling his name and giving him directives. He does have a vision of God, but he stands in God's presence like an observer, witnessing heavenly worship. As he sees what is going on, he experiences a great sense of his own unworthiness, which he then confesses. In response to that, one of the heavenly beings cleanses Isaiah's mouth, thus removing his sin.
After this Isaiah hears God speak, but God is not addressing Isaiah. What he hears is an open question - God calling for someone he can send. The details of this sending are not given, just the request to which Isaiah responds with, "Here am I. Send me!"
Could it be that God is still speaking this way today? Is not God's heart crying out for those whom he can send to do his will in a confused and hurting world? I wonder how many are waiting around for something to compel them to do something of significance in the world. We might be waiting for permission from someone. We might be waiting until we feel competent. We are waiting, but are we listening?
Many are deaf to the voice of God calling out in this way. It might be that Isaiah couldn't hear until he confessed and was cleansed from his sin. Our disobedience and neglect of God renders ourselves deaf to the voice of God. Others of us, due to disappointment and/or failure, refuse to hear God speak, stopping up our ears, not willing to risk for God again.
But he is calling out. He is asking the same question that he asked in Isaiah's day, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
This is not to say that we should start doing all sorts of things in God's name. History is too full of this kind of presumption. When Isaiah heard God's request, he didn't just run off, concocting all sorts of elaborate schemes in hope of accomplishing his own version of God's will. Like the other Bible personalities mentioned earlier, God did personally commission Isaiah. But the details did not come until after Isaiah unreservedly offered his services.
God speaks to us in different ways. As in the days of Isaiah, he is still looking for people to send. If we, like Isaiah, could get honest before God about our life's condition, we just might find ourselves in a place where we will be able to hear and respond to his call.
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