Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out." 8 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!" 9 And he said, "Go and say to this people: 'Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.' 10 Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed." 11 Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate; 12 until the LORD sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land. 13 Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump.
Isaiah is thought to have lived in the 8th Century BC Kingdom of Judah. Isaiah probably began his ministry a few years before Uzziah's death (approx the 740s BC) and lived until the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign. History shows that Assyria will soon threaten the region and will eventually destroy Samaria. The verses above act as a link between Chapters 1-5, which speak of a sinful people, and Chapters 7-12, which show a rebellious people who will not listen to Isaiah. The nation is going to struggle for life, and because of this will struggle to explain why their God allowed their defeat.
But the key to this story is found in verse 13: The holy seed is its stump. Despite the nation facing persecution and ‘desolation’, there is hope for regeneration. Like an oak that has been chopped down, there is hope of new life in its stump. The people of God will not stay crushed but will come back to life.
This story has served as a parable of hope for many succeeding generations. Even when we see our dreams and aspirations chopped down – there is hope of new life in the stump. Here is the good news: God can bring new life to a chopped down dream.
In lovingkindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
O praise His Name, He lifted me!
Words & Music: Charles H. Gabriel
The First Sunday in Lent
Preparation for Ministry
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 106.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.