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Bible Search
Becoming a Fat Hog for Jesus
Available
Isaiah 6:1-13
 
IF you were here last week, you will remember we began a series on “Becoming a FAT HOG for Jesus.  If you weren’t here, you might be surprised by that title.  It means
 
Faithful
Available
Teachable
 
Holy
Obedient
Growing
 
Last week we talked about the necessity of being faithful.  Faithfulness is simply “Staying true to your relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter what it costs you”.  You will never grow, you will never be worth anything as a church member until you settle the issue of faithfulness. 
 
Today I want to talk about what it means to be available.  Unfortunately a lot more emphasis is placed on ability than on availability.  But when I study the Bible I see very little emphasis given to ability.  That’s not to say there aren’t some impressive characters in the Bible. 
 
But even when there is massive physical ability, such as in the case of Samson, the focus is not on the physical, but on the spiritual.
 
 And most often, Scripture directs us to the fact that men and women were used of God to do extraordinary things in spite of their lack of ability.  Time would not permit us to tell of men such as Moses as He argued with God about his usability due to his speech impediment or young David, armed only with a slingshot and a few rocks and his defeat of the giant Goliath. 
 
We could mention the nets of the early disciples being filled at the Word of the Lord or thousands being fed with the lunch of a little boy as on and on that list goes showing us those who simply brought what they had and made it available for God’s use. 
 
Every so often I hear someone say “I just serve God in my poor, little, old, weak way.” When I hear that, I want to say, “Well, stop it!” God doesn’t want you to serve Him in your poor, little, old, weak way. He wants you to die to yourself and let Him live through you in His mighty, glorious, dynamic way.
 
One of the greatest secrets you’ll ever learn is that God doesn’t want you to do anything for Him. He just wants you to make yourself available so He can do something through you.  And being available to God is nothing other than saying with Paul,
 
 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).    
 
Now, one of the greatest examples of availability in Scripture is Isaiah. 
 
In the first few chapters of Isaiah, God shows Isaiah the mess that has developed in the nation of Israel.  He illustrates that truth by way of a parable in which He likens Israel to a vineyard. God Himself had planted that and did everything he could to guarantee that it would produce good grapes only to find out that it produced sour berries. 
 
The truth is God did everything He could to guarantee spiritual blessing for Israel and in return, Israel turned away from God and became spiritually bankrupt, rotten to the core.
 
And beyond that, God makes it very personal as He reveals the sins of the nation such as materialism, drunken pleasure, moral perversion, arrogance and conceit and corruption. 
 
By the way, there are amazing corollaries between what we find in Isaiah’s time and our own.  God, in HHis grace, planted our nation in a very fertile hill and did for us many of the same things that He did for Israel.  He gave us deep roots in the Christian faith and sound commitment to biblical morality, and theology, and yet we have gone the same direction that Israel went without the protection or the promises of being a covenant people.  And now we find ourselves, as Israel did, on the brink of judgment.
 
And into that moral wasteland, God calls Isaiah to bring His message of coming judgment to His people.  And in response to that call, we find the timeless response of Isaiah in chapter 6, verse 8 as He makes himself available to the Lord.
 
 
Isaiah 6:1-8
 
So what was it that brought Isaiah to that kind of commitment?  Why was he willing to make himself available to be used of God in the way he was?  Well, perhaps a little historical background will help us to understand why he responded as he did. 
 
You will notice that chapter six begins in the year of King Uzziah's death.  We might be tempted to ask, “Is that important?”  Well, it is if your name is Uzziah, or maybe Mrs. Uzziah or a bunch of little Uzziah's!  In that regard it is a pretty monumental day or year.
 
But the point that Isaiah is making here is broader than just some personal trauma or family death. The year that King Uzziah died was 740 B.C.  That means we are less than 150 years away from the Babylonian invasion.  That means the nation had plenty of warning to turn things around and get right with God. 
 
It also illustrates for us the amazing mercy and patience of God.  God allowed a century plus to go by before the judgment actually fell. 
 
But there is another thing that makes it significant and that is Uzziah had been king for 52 years.  Now in Bible language, we read about this time spans and don’t pay too much attention.  But imagine having a president or governor or preacher for 52 years!
 
Uzziah was on the throne for 52 years and he was a very strong leader.  God used hi to bring peace and prosperity and on the surface everything looked good.
As long as he was there it was as if God had a stamp of blessing. It was sort of like having a Christian president or somebody who makes you believe that everything is well and that God is blessing.  But in 740 B.C., all of that changed because that was the year that King Uzziah died. 
 
And he didn't die a normal death.  He died an extremely unusual death because God executed him. King Uzziah became so arrogant and confident in his position as king that he tried to function as a priest and when he stepped across the law of God and violated that law, God killed him on the spot; serious.
 
Now Isaiah understood believed what he had been preaching.  He knew the judgment of God was on the way. He knew full well that the Babylonians would eventually come to destroy the southern kingdom of Judah. He knew what was going on, but there was this one lingering hope that as long as Uzziah was on the throne, all was not lost.  And then he died, executed by God.
 
So in the year that King Uzziah died, everything seems to be unraveling for Isaiah.  And in response to that, he does what we would expect him to do. He goes to the temple. And it is there we find the first indicator of why Isaiah was so available to God.  He spent time in
 
  1.  The Presence of God
 
Verses 1-4
 
 
Now I think it is fairly easy to understand why Isaiah went to the temple.  He knew Israel was the vineyard of the Lord, he knew what God had invested in that vineyard, he knew what God expected from that vineyard, he knew that Israel was the people of covenant. He knew all of that.
 
But now everything was going wrong and divine judgment was going to fall and it was coming at the hands of a pagan nation. 
 
And Isaiah just wanted to check in at the temple and find out if God was still on the throne. Maybe everything had unraveled.  Maybe the power of Satan had overcome God because what is happening  just didn't make sense.  This was a reversal of everything he had hoped for and everything he had anticipated and so he went to the temple to see if he could make some sense of it and perhaps reassure himself of God’s presence. 
 
And right off the bat, he says, “I saw the Lord”.  And by the way, He wasn't lying under the throne having been knocked off by somebody else.  He was right where he was supposed to be, seated on the throne. He was still sovereign! He was still in charge!
 
He was “high and lifted up”.  Those words are very important. Nobody had usurped His authority.  Nobody had usurped his sovereignty.  It wasn't at all what Isaiah feared. 
 
In fact, the “train of His robe filled the temple”.  In other, words, His glory was everywhere!  And Isaiah sees the true and living God, still sovereign, still on the throne, with all His glory intact!
 
Then in verse 2, surrounding God are these hovering angels.  This means that God is not only sovereign, He still has at His disposal all the 10,000 times 10,000 and thousands of thousands of Holy Angels. He still has a greater force then any man.
 
They are hovering there before the Lord with two wings for reverence, two wings for humility and two wings for service. They are worshipping God with reverence, in His presence with humility, waiting to serve.
 
And notice, they are acknowledging that His nature and character has not changed. 
 
verse 3
 
This is the only time any attribute of God is repeated three times and it occurs a number of places in Scripture.  It is to emphasize the immensity or the immeasurability of His Holiness. He is not just Holy, He is Holy, Holy, Holy.  It is to say it cannot be conceived, it cannot be measured.
 
Furthermore, end of verse 3, "The whole earth is full of his glory, He extends His person and with His person comes His sovereignty and comes His power, and comes His Holiness to the whole earth." Listen:  nothing is going on in this planet that's outside His sovereignty and everything is affected by His presence. 
 
verse 4
 
Now the scene gets very, very serious. Holy, Holy, Holy isn't just some praise chorus.
The song sung at the throne of God causes an earthquake and the whole temple in this vision begins to shake, and smoke begins to fill the temple.
 
Much like when God came down on Mount Sinai to give the law to Moses and the mountain began to shake and was filled with smoke, the presence of God causes the same reaction here at the temple. 
 
It's a terrifying presence and it is designed to be so.  While we on the one hand will celebrate the sovereignty of God and celebrate His power and the wonder of His Holiness, at the same time to be in His presence is a frightening reality. 
 
And as Isaiah enters the temple, he takes in this awesome, terrifying, overwhelming scene as He is reassured that God is not only sovereign, God is not only powerful, but God is Holy. Nothing has changed. 
 
And if you want to know what led Isaiah to declare his availability to God, you must start here in the presence of God.  Until you are overwhelmed with His presence, until you are consumes with His majesty, until you are terrified of His power, you will never make yourself available for His service. 
 
In fact, before Isaiah ever said, “Here am I, send me”, he said “Woe is me”. 
 
Do you think he knows what ‘woe” means? Obviously He does.  He used it six times in chapter 5.  It means damned, cursed, punished.  Isaiah literally says, “I'm damned, I'm doomed, I am ruined.  I’m going to pieces. I am disintegrating. I am crumbling.  I’m coming apart at the seams.”
 
It’s traumatizing to be in the presence of God because the clearer you see God and His Holiness, the more aware you become of your sin.  Coming into the presence of God reveals sin, and Isaiah sees his defilement, and he sees it in a most interesting way.
 
Look at verse 5 again.  “I am judged because I'm a man of unclean lips." In everyday language he says, “I have a dirty mouth.”
 
So why does he say that? After all, he’s the best Israel’s got.  As a prophet, he speaks on behalf of God.  But here is a man who comes to grips with the reality of his sin and he knows what he deserves, and what he deserves is to be damned. I'm a man with a dirty mouth. 
 
Now had Isaiah lived in our day, somebody would rush to his side and say, “Oh come on Isaiah.  That’s just poor self esteem talking.  You can't go around badmouthing yourself like that.  It will make you feel bad.  You're really wonderful, you're the greatest, you're the Prophet of all prophets.  Why you’re a major prophet!  You’re not minor like some of the others, you’re the real deal!” 
 
But Isaiah would say, “I don't think you get it.  I'm not comparing myself to you.  I just saw the Lord and I'm comparing myself to Him. I live among a whole people of dirty mouths, and this assessment comes because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.”
 
 
 
That’s what happens when you get in the presence of God! And long before God hears us saying, “Here am I, send me”, we need to be found saying, “Woe is me because I’m all messed up.”
 
That’s the first step to being available to be used of God. 
 
The presence is followed by
 
Then let's come to
 
  1. The Purification
 
verses 6-7
 
Now in the temple there's an altar and that's altar for sacrifice and on that altar were burning coals where animals were laid as symbols of the great sacrifice that Christ would one day offer for sinners. That was the altar of sacrifice with its burning coals.
 
And here is Isaiah, shaken to the foundation of his being from being in the presence of God when this angel brings this live coal off that altar and touches it to his lips. 
 
Now don’t miss what is happening here.  The altar was the place of atonement. So here is a sinner in the presence of God. He is confessing his sin so he understands and recognizes that before a holy God, he is a sinner.  
 
And in that moment of deep and honest confession and repentance, the Seraphim flies in the vision with a coal from off the altar taken with the tongs and touches his mouth. 
Just reflect back on this verse the next time you’re barbecuing in the back yard and you look down at those live coals.  That's the imagery and there is a reminder in that picture that repentance is painful. 
 
He hurt Jesus and it will hurt you.  But that purging is necessary if you will be available to serve God.  Isaiah’s mouth needed to be cleaned and purged and cauterized.  And in the midst of that brokenness, he found forgiveness as what happened at the altar of atonement was applied to him. His iniquity was taken away and his sin was forgiven.
 
That was the purification.  Next we hear
 
  1. the proclamation
 
verse 8
 
For the first time, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord.  Up until now, we’ve only heard the angels.  And when the Lord speaks, He has a question.  “Who will I send?  Who will go out and represent Us in the world?”  
 
Now the order of these verses is very important.  You see, you can't send people to preach salvation who haven't received it.  Isaiah’s salvation occurs before his call to missions. 
 
And in response to the question, Isaiah responds, “I’m available.”
 
Now there are a lot of different ideas about how Isaiah responded. 
 
Some have the idea that Isaiah confidently stood up, pushed his way to the front of the crowd and declares, “Here am I send me.”  I doubt it. The truth is, there wasn't anybody else there but him.  And I’m of the opinion that he kept his head down, ashamed to look up even though he had been forgiven, and humbly and fearfully said, “I’m here.  I’m available. You could send me.”
 
But what in the world is the Lord going to do with a dirty mouth Prophet who just pronounced a curse on himself?
 
verse 9
 
God immediately gives him marching orders.  So what kind of person is God looking for?  Well obviously someone who is available.  But that person who will be used of God is one who understands that He is sovereign, who understands that He is powerful, almighty, nothing is beyond His power, who understands that He is Holy, that everything He does is right, who understands that His Glory extends to all the earth. 
 
He’s looking for somebody who not only understands and has a glorious and accurate view of God, but someone who has an accurate view of himself, who knows himself or herself to be nothing but a sinner, worthy of judgment who has in true repentance cried out to God and been forgiven.
 
God isn't looking for perfect people, God is looking for purified people.  Do you have a true view of God and a true view of yourself?
 
 Have you been atoned for, as it were? Has the coal been placed in your mouth so that you have been purged and purified and your sins forgiven by your faith in that sacrifice offered once for all on that altar of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Then you’re available to serve.  That’s who the Lord is looking for."
 
People who have a right view of God and have had their sins forgiven are the ones who have to answer this cry in verse 8.
 
Listen:  God isn't looking for great, intellectual brilliance, He isn't looking for oratorical skill. He isn't looking for literary genius.  He's not looking for the movers and the shakers and the power brokers.  He's not looking for those people that the world assumes to be the leaders of choice.  What He's looking for is people who have been cleansed.
 
So He says in verses 9-10, "Go and tell His people." And what He tells Isaiah to tell them is quoted in four Gospels, Acts and Romans.  It’s a very important passage. He said go tell them they are living on the brink of destruction.  You go out there and you tell them the Gospel.  But you tell them also that they'll hear it but they won't understand it. You go preach to those people and when you do it you give them the truth and then you tell them that you don't expect them to believe.
 
Their eyes are dull, their ears are deaf, their hearts are fat, they don't understand, they don't see, they don't hear.  They’re not interested in Me, but you just keep preaching.
 
 
 
Now that’s discouraging, especially if you are results oriented.  And in verse 11, Isaiah asked the question I would have asked.  
 
Lord, how long do I do that? Like two weeks?  After all Lord, this could get discouraging.  He said,
 
Verses 11-12
 
Judgment is coming, but just keep preaching.  Preach the message!  Go to this people and tell them about Me, tell them the truth. You can tell them that I'm a God of sovereignty and I'm a God of power, and I'm a God of glory, and I'm a God of Holiness, and tell them that I'm a God who forgives sin because you've experienced that. You tell them but don't expect them all them to hear and don't expect them all to see, and don't expect them all to understand or perceive, and don't expect them to return and be healed.
 
In fact, you know what's going to happen? The implication here and its expanded in the New Testament, the more you preach it the harder their hearts will become. It's part of the judgment. How long do I do that? You just keep doing it until nobody's left. Why?
 
That leads us to the last verse,
 
4. The Promise
 
Verse 13
 
This is a difficult verse to understand, but basically God says, “Preach it because some will respond.  A tenth will be in it.
Most won't listen, most won't hear, but there's a remnant here and there that will.”
 
He says, “It's like a stump after the tree has been felled”, and He calls them the Holy Seed.
 
That's our promise. The Lord is going to use us to bring the saving Gospel to some.
 
Back in 1994, two Christian missionaries answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics in a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage.
 
It was nearing Christmas and they decided to tell them the story of Christmas. It would be the first time these children had heard the story of the birth of Christ. They told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.
 
When the story was finished, they gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins that they had brought with them since no colored paper was available in the city.
 
 
 
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt which the missionaries had also brought with them.
 
It was all going smoothly until one of the missionaries sat down at a table to help a 6 year old boy named Misha. He had finished his manger. When the missionary looked at the little boy’s manger, she was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, she called for the translator to ask Misha why there were two babies in the manger.
 
Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, Misha began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.
 
Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending. He said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did.
 
"But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.
So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.'
 
"So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him--for always."
 
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
 
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him and it was all because somebody decided to make themselves available. 
 
So who is God looking for to touch the Mishas of the world? He's looking for you. Do you understand who He is? Do you understand who you are? Have you been cleansed? Then God is asking you the same question He asked Isaiah, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?”
 
The right response is, “Here am I Lord, and I’m available.”
 
Let’s pray.
 
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