Whalen’s Commissioning-03/12/17

Message: ‘Here I am… send me!’       Text: Isaiah 6:1-9a

Introduction: Nate Saint and fellow missionaries Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian set up camp on a little sandbar in hopes of making contact with the primitive Aucas, known for their fierce infighting and hatred of outsiders. The five missionaries had a deep burden to share the gospel message with the South American people known only for hunting and killing. However, their first friendly contact ended in their death by spearing.

  • Why didn’t the missionaries defend themselves with their guns? Why did they leave five young women widowed, nine children fatherless? Less than three years after the massacre, Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) and Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth, were living with the tribe. They practiced basic medicine and began to write out their language in hopes of someday translating the Bible. But why would they do it?

Even the Aucas didn’t understand what happened on that little beach in January of 1956. As they repeatedly discussed the raid, one question haunted them: why hadn’t the missionaries used their guns to defend themselves?
Knowing that the missionaries were capable of defending themselves and chose not to, was a major factor in the Aucas agreeing to allow Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliot to live with them. The killers had to know why would the outsiders let themselves be killed, rather than kill, as any normal Auca would have done? (Mark Haines)

It’s a legitimate question. Why were those missionaries willing to die? Why were they willing to give up everything?

  • Because they all knew it was a defining moment for them.

If you were here last Sunday, you remember that Simon (Peter) John and James all faced a similar defining moment. No, it didn’t involve dying… physically. But they all understood it meant dying in just about every other way.

  • They gave up their huge catch of fish and the money it would bring.
  • They gave up their fishing boat and supplies.
  • They gave up the comfort of their homes.
  • They gave up their livelihood.

Why? Because they had a defining moment that called them to deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Jesus.

  • Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian all shared a defining moment,
  • represented by a shared faith in Jesus and their call to serve Him… no matter what the cost.

The question that confronts all of us, is the very same one Simon, John, James, Jim, Ed, Pete, and Roger all faced:

  • Am I willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, to be His disciple?

Background: In our text this morning we will see a man from the OT who also had a defining moment and chose to answer God’s call to ‘GO,”

to serve Him at all costs. His name was Isaiah.

Transition: Open your Bibles to Isaiah 6:1. For it’s there we’ll find that when God calls, He expects us to say ‘Here I am, send me!’

  1. Isaiah 6:1-9a Here I am… send me!
  2. Isaiah 6:1-4 Seeing God before serving God

Read: Isaiah 6:1-4

In the year that King Uzziah died… For Isaiah, this was a defining moment. Speaking of King Uzziah 2 Chronicles 26:4 says:

  • And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.

Uzziah had been a good and faithful king when all of Israel was deserting God. It also seems that Isaiah and Uzziah were cousins. Isaiah would have taken his death very hard. And it drove him to the Temple to seek God’s face.

When he arrived, Isaiah had an encounter with God in a way that he wasn’t expecting. God spoke to him in a vision.

In his vision, Isaiah saw God high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple. Isaiah needed to see God… big, mighty, royal and as we see in the text, holy. So much so, that the glory of God filled the whole earth.

King Uzziah was dead, the Israelites were walking away from God, but Isaiah needed to see that God was still on the throne.

Takeaway:

  • Before God calls us to serve Him, He calls us, to see Him.
  • And even in the midst of all that may be going wrong around us, God wants us to see that He’s still on the throne.
  1. Isaiah 6:5-7 Seeing ourselves before serving God

Read: Isaiah 6:5-7

Isaiah saw God, He had an encounter with the Almighty. His defining moment…brought him to his knees, where, before Almighty God, he acknowledged his sinfulness.

Background: Earlier in the Book of Isaiah, we find the prophet Isaiah confronting the people of Israel with their sin against God. But nowhere in his diatribe does Isaiah acknowledge his own sin… until now, when he’s ushered into the presence of God.  It’s as if God was telling Isaiah,

  • Look, it’s easy to see sin in others. But, Isaiah, you need to acknowledge your own sinfulness, before you can faithfully serve me.

Isaiah and Simon’s defining moment had that in common.

  • But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Luke 5:8)

And for Simon and Isaiah alike, when they recognize their sin before Almighty God, God comforts them:

  • To Simon, Jesus says Do not be afraid.
  • To Isaiah, God has one of the seraphim take a hot coal to cleanse his sin.

Takeaway:

When God calls us to go deeper in our walk with Him, when we have an encounter with the Almighty, His intent is to bring us to our knees, sometimes physically, by the overwhelming knowledge that we are

  • So far from God in how we live.
  • So unworthy of being in His presence.
  • So destitute without His provision.
  • So defenseless without His help.

But, He doesn’t leave us there. Like Isaiah, God tells us that by our faith in Jesus, He has forgiven our sin, that even the guilt of our sin has been taken away. So we do not need to be afraid to seek God’s face… In fact, He encourages it.

 

  1. Isaiah 6:8-9a Saying yes to serving God

Read: Isaiah 6:8-9a

Verse 8 is often misinterpreted. Let’s make sure we get it correct.

  • And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Many scholars see God speaking directly to Isaiah. But there are some who see this differently, and I am one of them. Notice what God says Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

There is no indication in the text that God is speaking directly to Isaiah. Rather, form the structure of the Hebrew it leads us to believe that God the Father is speaking to the other two members of the Godhead (God the Son, God the Holy Spirit).

  • He can’t be speaking to the angels who surround the throne of God in heaven because the angels don’t send anyone, they themselves are sent by God.

Now, you might be thinking, OK, so what? Why is that so important? Because it shows that God’s call here is not necessarily specific to Isaiah. Let me say it this way.

  • While God is calling Isaiah to serve Him in a deeper way,
  • His call is also meant for all who seek God’s face.
  • And that includes you and me!

Isaiah, perhaps senses that he’s not included in the conversation that’s going on, but, when he hears God say Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? He immediately jumps in and says Here I am, send me!

Folks, listen. That wasn’t Isaiah being impulsive, just like it wasn’t impulsive when Simon, John, and James left everything, to follow Jesus as full time disciples. It was the result of a process God initiated in their lives.

  • God wanted them to see Him before they could serve God.
  • God wanted them to see themselves in light of God’s presence, before they could serve God.
  • And God wanted them all to respond the same way… Here I am, send me.

Takeaway:

Folks, I think often when we sense God calling us to go deeper in our relationship with Him by serving Him in perhaps a new or unfamiliar way, we say,

  • Let me pray about it. Let me discuss it with some Christian friends. Let me send out a fleece to see if this is really God speaking to me.

But, it’s often just a ploy to avoid the inevitable or find a ‘spiritual sounding excuse’ to get out of what we know God is calling us to do.

So, when God says:

  • Whom shall I send to serve in the youth group?
  • Whom shall I send to serve in VBS this summer?
  • Whom shall I send to speak to a struggling young family.
  • Whom shall I send to comfort a grieving neighbor?
  • Whom shall I send to help out behind the scenes at the church?
  • Whom shall I send to be extravagant in their financial support of the church?
  • Whom shall I send to reach their community for Me?
  • Whom shall I send to support and advocate for My work with the Beja in Africa?

Christian, will you say Here I am, send me?

Conclusion:

Read: Acts 1:8

  • But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

God is saying; Christian, you will be my witnesses… somewhere.

  • It might be close to home, in your neighborhood or within your sphere of influence.
  • It might be at school, in the workplace or the gym.
  • It might be in your surrounding communities, even in a foreign land.

But, here’s the thing for all Christians:

  • You are called by God.
  • You are called by God to serve Him.
  • You are called by God to the mission field.
  • You are called by God to go.
  • The only question is… where?

And your response the One True and Ever Living God should be:

  • Here I am… send me!