Friday, July 7, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 9, 2017

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(Responding to a holy GOD with confession and obedience)
(Isaiah 6)

   The Prophet Isaiah was born in Jerusalem, into the family of Amoz, who was related to the royal house of Judah. He spent his early years as an official of King Uzziah (Azariah), who reigned over Judah for 52 years (2 Chronicles 26:3). In the year that Uzziah died of leprosy, around 740 B.C. (2 Kings 15:5), Isaiah received his calling from GOD one day in a stirring vision in the Temple at Jerusalem.
    Isaiah was married to a woman, who Scripture only describes as the “Prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3), and he was the father of two sons, who bore highly symbolical names. “Shear-jashub” (Isaiah 7:3), his first son, whose name means “a remnant shall return”, prophesies the return of the Jews to Judah, after their deportation and captivity had ended in Assyria.
    The second son, “Maher-shalal-hash-baz”, (the longest word in the Bible), whose name means “swift spoil, speedy prey”, prophesies the doom of Damascus and Samaria, and the destruction of Syria and Israel, who had formed an alliance against Jerusalem. 
    Isaiah’s connection with the royal family may explain why he was always able to enter into the presence of the king, seemingly at will. His active career spanned from around 738 B.C. until, at least, 701 B.C., and probably, even up until 690 B.C. He lived through a succession of political crises, including “the intervention of Assyria” (2 kings 16:5), “the Syro-Ephraimitish War” which began in 734 B.C. (2 kings 15:37-16:9), “the fall of Samaria” in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 17:5-6), “the siege of Ashdod by king Sargon” in 711 B.C. (Isaiah 20:1), and “the attempted invasion of Sennacherib” in 701 B.C (2 Kings 19).
    Isaiah has well been called “the Prince of Prophets” and “the Prophet of Faith”, and he went on to become a sublime figure of Faith in the supremacy of the “Spiritual” over the “Earthly”, and GODLY ideals from on High, over the brute force and physical power of men on earth.
    For Isaiah to have combined such lofty faith with his practical statesmanship, shows that he is essentially a man of action, and is worthy of being called one of the greatest men of any age. To Isaiah, GOD was first and foremost, a holy GOD. In fact, the holiness of GOD was the first thing that impressed Isaiah when he saw GOD in all HIS glory in the temple at Jerusalem here in Isaiah 6:1-8.
    However, GOD’s holiness also reminded Isaiah of his own sin and weaknesses, an effect that the knowledge of GOD should have on us all. Isaiah’s humble cry shows no resemblance to mere surface humility, but rather, it manifests a deep realization by the prophet, of the overwhelming superiority of GOD’s holiness.
    After confessing his imperfections before the presence of the LORD, and being cleansed of his sins by GOD through the placement of the hot coal upon his lips (symbolic of a burnt offering on the altar), Isaiah now stands ready to, both, worship, and serve the LORD completely.
    This account of Isaiah’s call to service, by GOD, is perhaps the classic prophetic summons of the Old Testament. Isaiah’s answer to GOD’s request of “Who shall we send?” is one of the most well-known statements of the Old Testament prophets. His utterance of “Here I am, send me” shows a courageous willingness by Isaiah to step into the unknown, armed only with faith.
    However, it was this faith that would allow him to overcome the perils and rigors of this world, as he pressed on for decades, delivering GOD’s message to those, who, for the most part, weren’t even willing to listen. It prompts one to recall the Apostle John, as he wrapped up his colorful career and vivid account of JESUS’ ministry, during the final weeks of HIS divine life here on earth.
    The “disciple whom JESUS loved” cited the eighth century prophet, Isaiah’s written words in Isaiah 6:10, which had resonated in his own heart and mind, down through the years of his life. There the LORD tells Isaiah, “Harden the hearts of these people. Close their ears, and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn to ME for healing” (NLT).
    It was the classic statement that would seem to explain why so few Jews had responded favorably to Isaiah’s message in the eighth century B.C., or the MESSIAH’s message in the first century A.D. In fact, it is indeed no different from “the attitude of indifference” and unresponsive way that we are now responding to GOD’s messengers here in this, the twenty-first century. Our GOD is a Holy GOD, and in the hearts of those who love and fear HIM, HE still moves and inspires to worship and service, all the day long.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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