Then I said ‘Here am I! Send me.'” Usual words we’ve heard from Isaiah 6, often times offered as a treatise to “obey the call to missions” or to “share your faith courageously.” If you have been guilty of this take comfort, I have too. Why is the misconception of this passage so serious? Often times people stop reading and don’t read the message Isaiah was to bring. The message Isaiah was carrying was one which proclaimed, “there’s nothing you as the supposed people of God can do, you’re screwed, you have sinned, you have played whore against the covenant you made with your God, and now He is going to destroy you for your sin. So why has this been the banner of modern evangelism? Because it sounds friendly when you forget the message.
“What about Jesus? We’re not carrying that harsh message anymore, we’re carrying God’s message of hope, joy, peace, and love for the world into the world.” That would be nice if that were really the case. YES the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope, joy, peace, and love…but it often brings animosity, strife, division, hatred, judgment, violence, and sometimes death in its wake. The gospel is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to more than the Jews from first-century Palestine. The message is still the same. The gospel is that you are DEAD in your sins – those things you cling so tightly to, which bring meaning, purpose, and comfort of which you l want to continue to live in – those things actually bring death! Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven and salvation comes not by our own works, effort, behavior, or merit but is only accomplished by the work and will of the LORD Jesus on the cross. This message can be exceedingly offensive. Isaiah got the significance of what God was calling him to. He remaining chapters of Isaiah contain the harsh truth of the reality of God’s wrath and tradition tells us it was for this he was sawn in two. Isaiah knew this message would not earn him favor, but it was the message he was given. Does this sound like the results or intention of the last sermon you heard on “Here am I! Send me’?” I doubt it. We are given such a wonderful message to proclaim and yet many of us cower beneath fear.
So how DO we preach Isaiah in lieu of Jesus and the new covenant? Being offensive for offensiveness sake is non-effective and is not fleshing out the love of Christ. Let us preach the gospel in such a way we feel the need to actually put on the armor God has given us. For some, the armor is simply a pleasant analogy, but listen to the reason Paul gives for us needing to wear it. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV) We have a real enemy! He wants to debilitate us, wound us, lead us to despair, self-destruction, to believe His lies, and inevitably kill us and the gospel message on our lips. God is preparing us to boldly go into the world with a message of love which will immensely bless and be used to save some, and will confuse and offend many others.
We do not fight against people (flesh and blood), but rather against the devil inside them (the spiritual forces of evil). Let us preach boldly the true gospel which will lead them to Jesus. It’s all about Jesus!! Knowing we might possibly lose friends, family, popularity, respect, esteem, employment, affection, sleep, and possibly our very lives, as Isaiah did, let us love people passionately and ardently preach the gospel of our perfect, loving, compassionate, murdered, resurrected, and glorified Savior Jesus Christ. There are hurting, oppressed, arrogant, complacent, comfortable, and bitter people – all lost, who don’t know the love and salvation of Christ. Be encouraged, but be ready. Put on the whole armor of God to protect you from the evil one, and take up the Word of God which pierces deeper than any double-edged sword.